Over the last couple of years, Patrick Bradley has become very familiar with the Netflix series “Spirit Riding Free.”
As the father of two young girls, who also happen to be major horse enthusiasts, he’s caught glimpses of the show since its premiere two years ago. Even though the series hasn’t been online for a long time, it managed to rack up eight seasons, so there’s plenty of content for his daughters to take in.
“My girls are so into horses, we have one now,” Bradley said. “They’re head over heels for ‘Spirit Riding Free,’ and so are all of their friends. I’ve watched them fall in love with this show, so it gave me an idea.”
Working with the crew from Cheyenne Frontier Days, Bradley wanted to find a way to bring some new, family-themed entertainment to the rodeo this year, all themed around his daughters’ favorite TV show.
The folks behind CFD loved Bradley’s pitch for a new event. Even better, this new activity wouldn’t actually be held at Frontier Park, but at the Kiwanis Community House in Lions Park.
Next Saturday and Sunday, Bradley and his team from his company, B-Positive Productions, will bring “Spirit Riding Free” to life.
The “Spirit Riding Free: Unstoppable Experience” will take place three times on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, with each performance at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The event is geared for fans of the series of all ages, but it’ll be best enjoyed by children ages 5 to 12.
The “Spirit Riding Free” series is set in the 19th century in a small frontier town and follows a 12-year-old girl named Lucky who encounters a wild mustang she calls Spirit. With her two new friends, the girls and their horses go on various adventures.
The show is actually based on a 2002 animated film, “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” where the titular character is captured during the American Indian Wars. When he’s freed by a Native American man, the two embark on an adventure to return Spirit to his home. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature.
The event will begin with a 30-minute theater show inside the Community House. Stars from the YouTube series “That’s The Spirit” will be in attendance, leading the show. There will be sing-a-longs, music and a chance to see the series’ latest trailer for the upcoming ninth season.
But that’s not all.
After the theater show, guests can head outdoors and meet real-life versions of Spirit, the titular horse from the show and movie it’s adapted from. This breed is known as Kiger mustangs, a strain of feral horses found in Oregon. DNA tests have shown these horses are descendants of Spanish horses brought to America in the 17th century. Kiger mustangs are some of the most popular horses purchased by private owners.
Besides getting to meet the “real” Spirit, kids can partake in a hobby horse obstacle course, get a fake tattoo at the event’s tattoo studio and win various prizes through games.
Bradley recommended that anyone coming to the event should wear appropriate clothing, noting that “if you’d wear it to the carnival or the Indian Village, it’d be good for here.”
Also, while this is a ticketed event, you don’t have to have a ticket to CFD to attend “Spirit Riding Free: The Unstoppable Experience.”
While it’s still too early to say if this will become an annual event, Bradley does hope that it could return next summer.
“I think people are really going to enjoy this,” he said. “The show is all about people who love horses, and it really taps into that frontier culture. It’s a natural fit to have during CFD time. It’s wholesome entertainment based on relationships between young people and their love of animals. What’s not to like?”