I’m a film fan and enjoy that my town, Bend, Ore., celebrates independent filmmakers each year at the BendFilm Festival. And if a horse film is screening during BendFilm, I make sure to see it.

This year’s selection included “Herd in Iceland,”  a beautiful documentary short (28 minutes) about Icelandic horses in their native country. The film by Lindsay Blatt and Paul Taggart earned a documentary short special mention at BendFilm. Additionally, it won Best Short Documentary at the Black Hills Film Festival in Hills, S.D., and is an award winner in the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, Ind., where it's showing Oct. 20-26, 2013.

"Herd in Iceland" theatrical trailer

For centuries, Icelandic law has prohibited the importation of horses into the island country. And once a horse leaves Iceland, it can’t return. That means the sturdy, five-gaited Icelandic horse is free from disease exposure and influences of other breeds.

During the long days of Iceland’s summer months, the horses—some 2,000 of them—are turned out as a mixed herd to graze the high country. As the weather begins to change in September and the days grow shorter in their march to near 24-hour darkness, horse owners collect their horses for the winter. This annual roundup includes food, dancing, and festivities to celebrate the horses and changing season.

“Herd in Iceland” follows owners as they gather their horses from the high country and enters their private, rural lives as horsemen and -women. It investigates the horses, their personalities, and what they mean to those who, breed, raise, train, and export them. The filmmakers interview the father whose daughter loves horses but doesn’t know if she wants to continue her family’s breeding and training tradition; life partners who are separated by decades but joined by horses; and the urbanite who wouldn’t want to spend the season any other way.

I left the film struck by the panoramic beauty of Iceland, its horses, and its people, and I’m definitely adding a ride across the Icelandic moors to my horsey bucket list. Mostly, though, living and working in a U.S. horse industry that’s often divided by discipline, breed, and belief, I’m drawn to the film’s ideal of people coming together, unified by the horse.

To experience “Herd in Iceland” yourself visit the film's screening calendar or purchase it on DVD or as a digital download.

Have you seen "Herd in Iceland," or do you have a favorite horse-themed documentary film?