Arrow: The Stolen Life of an American Mustang

Los Angeles, California | Film Short


Heidi Hornbacher

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $3,670 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

41 supporters | followers

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Twenty years after being stolen, trafficked across the American West, and nearly killed, Arrow is saved by a woman determined to find out who he is. When she learns he’s a rare Choctaw Mustang she knows she must reunite him with the man who raised him and who still safeguards this special breed.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Our film showcases what happens when women support each other and their creatures. The writer/director is a woman who fights for women’s stories to be heard. The subject of the film is a woman whose commitment to this horse rescue and to finding her voice resulted in her divorce and starting over.

The Story

***We've reached our basic goals! WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP to reach our stretch goals to knock this out of the park with an addtional camera person and a robust festival run. We also want to make a personal matching donation to help feed the horses for the winter based on how much we raise here.***


This horse should be dead by now.

When Gabriela McAlister found Arrow in 2013 he just wanted to die. And he was about to get his wish in being sold to the proverbial glue factory. He was stuck in a sketchy Los Angeles tourist trail ride stable where he endured horrific abuse. But that was just the end of a long trail of abuse, neglect, and struggle over 20 years as he was stolen from loving owners, shuffled around the country, used as a stud, and finally gelded and beaten as too spirited and unsafe.

She’d learn all that later, though. For now, she only knew there was something about this scarred black horse with the dimmed eyes. She made a promise to save him and she had to keep her word.

Through subterfuge, sacrifice, and a daring deal, Gabi rescued him and over years of slow and gentle therapy she reignited his will to live and his magnificence. As this little mustang impressed everyone from upper-crust Hunter/Jumpers, rodeo barrel racers, and sought-after veterinarians, Gabi worked to uncover the secrets of his past. Meanwhile, her marriage fell apart and Arrow rescued her right back.

At last, her persistent sleuthing paid off. She learned Arrow was an extremely rare black roan Choctaw Mustang from a vaunted bloodline. These are the horses who came over with the Spanish Conquistadors and shaped the American West. These are the horses who walked the Trail of Tears. These are the horses made famous by Viggo Mortensen in Hidalgo. These are the horses who are being protected still by an old Oklahoma horse man named Bryant Rickman.

When Gabi finally connected with Bryant, he wanted to know who had his horse and her heart dropped, knowing he might demand Arrow be returned. But when he saw all she had done for him and saw the horse he had become, he knew Arrow had, against all odds, found his person.  Working together, Gabi and Arrow have made remarkable differences in the lives of animals they’ve helped save and people they’ve uplifted.

Help us now as we take Arrow to visit Bryant and the herd he comes from. Help us tell the story of this extraordinary horse, his herd, and the people who are sworn to protect them no matter what it takes.     

We need your help to create a moving record of this unprecedented reunion, make sure it’s high quality, and get it out into the world so that more people understand the value of these national treasure horses and aid in their survival.

We are creating a documentary short and a novel telling Arrow’s exciting and important story. It’s the real life American version of Black Beauty and we believe it will be just as inspiring. 



We've reached our funding goal which means we can reach for our stretch goals:


The first for an additional $1400 would be for me to bring a sound person/second shooter with me so this isn't all on my shoulders. I've shot lots of documentary stuff on my own but having a second will mean it's just that much higher quality. 


The second stretch goal is $1000 toward our eventual festival run. Entering all those festivals where people can see Arrow's story adds up fast.


Finally, based on how much we raise during this campaign, we will make a personal matching donation to to give winter feed to the American Heritage Mustang herd at Bryant Rickman's farm. This would mean we get to help feed these horses and ensure they stay happy and healthy over the Oklahoma winter. We would love to be able to do this for them. 


Keep sharing about us! 

Thank you, friends!




Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Getting Arrow (and Heidi and Gabi) There

Costs $1,400

Gabi, Arrow, and Heidi need to trailer across the state to where Arrow was born & pay for lodging.

Post Production/Edit

Costs $1,000

To help Arrow's message reach a wide audience and help stop animal abuse, we need a kick-ass edit.

Heidi's Travel

Costs $600

We need to get Heidi from LA to OK with gear and then in a rental car to Gabi and Arrow.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Writer/Director/Producer: Heidi Hornbacher


A graduate of UCLA’s screenwriting program, Heidi has written numerous features, treatments, and TV pilots for various independent producers. She’s judged for the Slamdance Film Festival screenwriting contest and co-founded the Slamdance Script Clinic. She and her husband founded PageCraft Writing in 2008 offering script coaching and writing retreats in LA and Italy. Her clients have gone on to find representation, win contests, and become working writers. Heidi has written, directed, and produced numerous commercials, music videos, and electronic press kits for various artists. She’s currently making a documentary film about British artist Paul Whitehead.


Subject/Producer: Gabriela McAlister-Jackson


Gabriela is a holistic healer who has been professionally working with people and animals for the past 20 years. She developed Connected Energy® Healing which helps in all situations of dis-ease addressing the energetic, emotional and physical causes creating challenges for her clients. She is traditionally educated, speaking English and Spanish fluently and is conversant in French. She has a corporate background and attended law school. She realized in the middle of her corporate career that true happiness and peace is achieved by following one’s life mission and purpose from a loving and confident place. She became a healer helping people and animals through emotional and physical problems that western medicine and/or holistic medicine and yes even training could not accomplish. Her work is the missing connection in treatment plans for people and animals. She has effectively helped people and animals all over the world as her work is not confined to location. For her US clients she works over the phone and for her international clients she use Skype. She is married to her best friend of over 15 year with their East German German Shepherd Baldr and three rescued Choctaw Spanish Mustangs, Arrow, Jack, and William, living a busy but quiet life in a small town in Oklahoma.

Current Team