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Charlie Carrel, a horseman from Wyoming, bonds with a troubled horse. After years of work together, they fight the odds and compete at a top level Grand Prix to prove the actual worth and ability of Utopik.
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Running Time
Short Film
14 minutes
Documentary, Short


“Utopik” is a moving story about a relationship between a horse and rider. Humans and horses evolved together over the millennia to form a unique and special bond. The challenging sport of Show Jumping relies heavily on the ability of a rider to form a deep connection with his horse. Based on military exercised practices over thousands of years, the duo jumps a series of obstacles in a stadium. Riders competing at the top level in show jumping seek horses that are reliable and brave as the event can be dangerous.

The horse Utopik initially had promising ability to jump well but suddenly went crazy. He flipped over at a complete stand still, crushing his previous rider’s hips. In addition, only a year later, he fell down and stopped breathing. Riders in the Southwest heard about the incidents and he quickly became a horse that was shunned. His rider at the time, became afraid of Utopik and turned him out for months in a pasture with nothing to do. As a last resort, she decided to send Pik to Charlie Carrel in Wyoming to see if he could help.

Charlie Carrel is a rider and trainer in Sheridan, Wyoming. Unlike most equestrian show jumpers, Charlie came from a western riding background. He grew up on a working cattle ranch in Bernie, Montana, 50 miles from the nearest town. His father was a well established horse trainer and cattle rancher. Charlie was introduced to show jumping by his father who worked with the Government training military remount horses.

Charlie’s passion for horses and the sport is inspiring for all people . He breaks colts, rides, trains, and takes in a lot of horses that most people would consider failures. Charlie believes in Pik, agrees to take the troubled horse in, and the story begins.

Filmmaker Notes:

Other than the Olympics, the sport of Show Jumping does not receive much media attention. It is a fusion of determination and dedication to the formation of a relationship with an animal. The stakes are high and the danger extreme. I knew it might be a challenge to draw interest from a non-equestrian audience. However, the journey the pair take together parallels all dysfunctional or broken relationships and the possibility of recovery.

Animals can teach us much about life and ourselves. They can change a person for the better and make us more human. I also wanted to seek universal themes hidden within each horse and rider and the similarity to our own relationships.

The story of Charlie and Utopik is the story about second chances and redemption for both a horse and rider.

Film details
Year(s) screened
  • 2018
Where to Watch
Festival screenings
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