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Reviews for Teen Horse Whisperers

Sentimentality lurks at the heart of Lucy Kaye’s film about a dedicated teacher using a horse sanctuary to help the excluded children at a school in Liverpool back into a trusting educational environment, but luckily it never takes center stage. What does is the teacher, Bernie, one of those people whose patience with and compassion for both horses and kids can’t fail to win us, and them, over. In a half hour doc there’s the occasional frustrating sense of a fascinating story being rushed, but on the whole Kaye’s skilful editing captures the tentative relationships being forged between horses and children. Along the way, Bernie gently helps the children see how the animals and their experiences act as a metaphor for their own issues with trust and fear. 

Time Out 23rd Feb 2011


Lucy Kaye's rather lovely First Cut documentary looks at the work of Impact, an alternative school in Liverpool, and the Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary. It shows how pupils with behavioural issues are encouraged to work with unwanted, wild horses, who need taming before they can be reintegrated with their herds. The parallels between the animal and human adolescents are obvious but this makes the task ahead of the teenagers no less of a challenge, as they must first confront their own difficulties before addressing those of the horses.

Guardian 25th Feb 2011


Another lovely film from a series that should be persuading the soap opera audience to make the switch to documentary. This features a group of young Liverpudlians whose behaviour has seen them exiled from mainstream schooling. They now attend “classes” at a horse sanctuary, and in learning to work with big, injured, frightened animals, they are taught to control their own moods. Sunday Times 20th Feb 2011


A mellow, wise little film tells a tale of disruptive teenagers on Merseyside and their unlikely therapy programme. A brilliant woman called Bernie runs a charity in bootle that brings the teenagers together with rescued horses. The students must win the trust of the horses (which have behavioural problems of their own) and learn how to assert themselves, without being threatened or giving up. A lot of it comes down to body language and confidence- so there’s one big life lesson right there. It’s therapeutic just watching the sessions as horses and teens tame eachother, thought it’s no surprise when we learn that this enlightened programme faces closure as a result of cuts.

Radio Times 19th Feb 2011


Run by Bernadette Langfield the Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary in Liverpool specializes in taming horses with behavioural problems, horses that have been deemed “difficult”. Langfield believes these stunning creatures have a natural ability to pick up on our emotional states, and she is utilizing this gift to the benefit of both horses and people. The latest in the First Cut series of debut documentaries is this charming and touching film by Lucy Kaye, following a group of problem teenagers a sthey spend two months with Langfield. The results – for both human and horse – are quite astonishing.

Daily Mail 19th Febuary 2011


This is nice. In a rough part of Liverpool, Bernie runs a scheme to help troublesome kids; she pairs them up with troublesome horses. You'd think it would cause havoc, that you'd end up with feral teenagers and asbo ponies running wild together through Merseyside. But, weirdly, they help to calm each other down. The horses were considered unmanageable and were destined for the knacker's yard. But Bernie explains to them (she's a horse whisperer) that the way to an easier life, or indeed any kind of life, is via her programme. And she says pretty much the same to the kids. They are wary of each other at first. A kid called Ryan does a horse impression at a horse called Simba. "Do you think that helps, making sounds like that?" says Bernie. Simba's not impressed either. Bernie shows Ryan how to gain the animal's trust, with words and movements. And apples (it's just bribery really, not horse whispering). Soon, Ryan's leading Simba around the yard, confidently. Bernie's scheme, and her ponies, are threatened by the cuts. They'll probably be slaughtered, Bernie too, boiled up for glue. Which will then be sniffed by Ryan and his mates, because they'll no longer have long-faced role models. Yeah, good one Mr Cameron, pony killer.

Guardian 26th Feb 2011

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