Kids and animals seem to go together like peanut butter and jam when it comes to heart-warming sentimentality. Following the lead of films like Fly Away Home and My Dog Skip, Director Peter Markle combines a teenaged girl and a spirited horse in Virginia's Run to give viewers a feel-good movie aimed at young teens and tweens.
Nearly three years ago, Virginia Lofton (Lindze Letherman) and her sister Caroline (Rachel Skarsten) lost their mother in a freak riding accident. In what may have been a rash decision motivated by pain, their father, Ford (Gabriel Byrne) sold the offending animal to a neighbor and forbade his daughters to ever ride again.
But when Twister gives birth to a foal on a dark and rainy night, Virginia braves the storm to be by the mare's side and assist in the delivery (briefly shown). As the colt matures, the teen breaks her ban and sneaks out for midnight rides without the consent of the horse's wealthy and arrogant owner, Blake Raines (Robert Guy Miranda) or his spoiled son, Darrow (Kevin Zegers). But her secret is uncovered when Raines hires a new trainer, Jessie Eastwood (Joanne Whalley). Driving on a quiet, country back road, the horse instructor nearly collides with the ghostly colored animal and the confident young rider.
Endowed with an understanding of girls and some common horse sense, Jessie warms up to the bereaved Ford and tries to convince him to let Virginia ride again. With the local Memorial Day Endurance Race only weeks away, Virginia could challenge the self-important Darrow who'll stop at nothing to keep his title as reigning champ.
Experienced equestrians may squirm at the obviously manipulated race scenes and the improbability of Virginia's chances. But there are few other concerns aside from mild profanities, cheating and some brief moments of violence. Shot on the picturesque shores of Nova Scotia, Canada, the film makes up for a tried and tested story line with some visually appealing cinematography and gentle humor.
Virginia's Run is one story that will likely send young, female horse lovers galloping into theatres by the herds.