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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a 2002 American animated western-adventure film produced by DreamWorks Pictures. The film was directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook in their directional debuts, and written by John Fusco. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The film revolves the story of a Kiger Mustang named Spirit who grew up with the herd of wild horses in the wild American frontier, until he got captured by TBD.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was released in theaters on May 24, 2002, and earned $122.6 million on an $80 million budget. Spirit was first inspired by the kiger mustang horse, a breed of horse which has stereotypical black hair and an orangish brown coat.


In the 19th-century American West, a young Kiger Mustang colt, Spirit, is born to a herd of horses. Spirit soon grows into a stallion and assumes the role of leader of the herd, whose duty is to keep the herd safe. Spirit is a courageous leader but has great curiosity. Spotting a strange light one night not far from his herd, the stallion is intrigued and investigates. He finds restrained, docile horses and their human wranglers sleeping around a campfire. They wake up, and seeing him as a magnificent specimen, chase and capture him, taking him to a US cavalry post.

At this time, the US army is fighting the Indian Wars and taking over the soon-to-be western United States. Frightened and confused he finds himself and other horses slaves. Then, he encounters "The Colonel", who decides to have the mustang tamed, refusing to believe the idea of Spirit being too stubborn, but Spirit manages to fight off all attempts to tame him. To weaken Spirit, The Colonel orders him tied to a post for three days with no food or water. Meanwhile, a Lakota Native American named Little Creek is also brought into the fort and held captive. Spirit is later supposedly broken in by the Colonel, who speaks his idea of how any wild horse can be tamed. However, Spirit gets a second wind and finally throws him off. The Colonel gets frustrated and tries to shoot him, but Little Creek (who frees himself from his bounds with a knife) saves Spirit from being shot. The two of them, along with other horses, escape the post. Little Creek's mare, Rain, meets them along with other natives who capture Spirit.

After returning to the Lakota village, Little Creek tries to tame Spirit with kindness, but Spirit refuses to be ridden. Little Creek ties Spirit and Rain together and, when he tries to leave, she insists on staying, then shows him her world. Spirit begins to warm up to Little Creek and falls in love with the mare. At the end of their time together, Little Creek tries again to ride him, but Spirit is still unwilling. He then decides that Spirit will never be tamed and frees him. As Spirit asks Rain to come with him to his herd, a cavalry regiment led by the Colonel attacks the village. During the vicious battle, the Colonel tries to shoot Little Creek, but Spirit runs into the Colonel and his horse, deflecting the shot and saving Little Creek's life. However, Rain is shot by the Colonel, knocking her into the river. Spirit dives into the river to try to rescue Rain but is unsuccessful and they both plummet over a waterfall. Spirit finds Rain dying from her injuries and stays by her side until the army captures him. Watching Spirit being pulled away, Little Creek arrives, vowing to free him to satisfy his life-debt and follows the men after tending to Rain.

Spirit is loaded onto a train and taken to a work site on the Transcontinental Railroad, where he is put to work pulling a steam locomotive. Realizing that the track will infringe on his homeland, Spirit breaks free from the sledge and breaks the chains holding the other horses. They escape, and the locomotive falls off its sledge and rolls down the hill back to the work site chasing Spirit while the locomotive itself is getting more and more damaged, causing an explosion after crashing into another locomotive. Little Creek appears in time and saves Spirit from the ensuing wildfire.

The next morning, the Colonel and his men find Spirit and Little Creek, and a chase ensues through the Grand Canyon. Eventually, they are trapped by a gorge. Little Creek gives up, but Spirit manages to successfully leap across the canyon. Spirit's move amazes the Colonel; he humbly accepts defeat, stops his men from shooting the two, and allows Spirit and Little Creek to leave. Spirit returns to the rebuilt Lakota village with Little Creek and finds Rain nursed back to health. Little Creek decides to name Spirit the "Spirit-Who-Could-Not-Be-Broken" and sets him and Rain free. The two horses return to Spirit's homeland, eventually reuniting with Spirit's herd.



  • Matt Damon as Spirit
    • TBD as Young Spirit
  • Cameron Diaz as Rain
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  • James Cromwell as The Colonel
  • Daniel Studi as Little Creek
  • Chopper Bernet as Sgt. Adams
  • Jeff LeBeau as Murphy and the Railroad Foreman
  • Richard McGonagle as Bill
  • Matt Levin as Joe
  • Robert Cait as Jake
  • John Rubano as the Soldier
  • Adam Paul as Pete
  • Charles Napier as Roy
  • Zahn McClarnon as one of Little Creek's friends
  • Michael Horse as a friend of Little Creek's
  • Meredith Wells as a Lakota girl
  • Donald Fullilove as Train Pull Foreman







Box office


Home media

Video games

Television series

A computer-animated television series based on the film, titled Spirit Riding Free, premiered on Netflix on May 5, 2017. The series follows all the daring adventures when Spirit, who is the offspring of the original, meets a girl named Lucky whose courage matches his own.

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