Local Val Geissler shares 5 inspirational takeaways from 'Unbranded' film and life

(Cody, Wyo.) - 3,000 miles, 16 wild horses, 4 men, 1 "Uncle Val," and a mission to ride across country from Mexico to Canada on an adventure of a lifetime, all to prove the worth of wild horses. Cody's Val Geissler has been an army officer, poet, singer, rancher, volunteer, and a horse-hand all his life. Now he can add mentor and a cameo appearance in the award-winning documentary, Unbranded, to his list of credentials - not that he's keeping track. We had the privilege of attending the screening of 'Unbranded' last night at Big Horn Cinemas, and caught up with Val to uncover 5 inspirational takeaways from a hometown cowboy on the film and life. *Embrace the unexpected - *Val first met Ben Masters, the Producer, author and rider of the film back in 2010, three years before the Unbranded adventure began. Val and his wife Cindy are caretakers of a Forest Service Cabin on Hawk's Rest, and Ben came upon the cabin during one of his pack trips. Val explains the encounter, "I invited the boys up to the cabin for a warm fire and dutch oven meal, and we instantly became really, really good friends." Shortly thereafter, Ben shared his adventurous idea to ride wild horses from Mexico to Canada. Ben asked Val if he'd be part of it and help train the horses. Without hesitation, Val said, "Son I'll do whatever. There ain't nothing we can't do and damn little we won't try." [image: 0 (3).jpg] *Above: Val and Cindy Geissler at the Big Horn Cinemas screening of Unbranded.* *It's all about the pie - *'Unbranded' has gained national attention, winning multiple awards at prestigious film festivals across the country such as Hot Docs' Film Festival Audience Award and Telluride's Mountain film Audience Award. Val explains the film's success with "a perfect pie analogy." Val explains, "This film, like a perfect pie, is full of the perfect ingredients, that perfectly laid crust, it's mixed just right, cooked just right, and it tastes perfect. We all contributed and did our best job. And now we have momentum. It's so wonderful. Never did I expect this to happen at my age. It's really special." *Relationships are everything - *Val provided the boys with the BLM horses, helped train them, and went along for part of the 3,000 mile adventure. "When my boys began the ride in 2013 they were 23 year old kids. They didn't have a lot of experience, especially training and breaking BLM horses. I helped them for 30 days and then they were ready to ride them." Val laughed and told the camera guys to "just keep your butt and mind in the middle." Though there was never a day Val didn't have feed and water ready for the horses, Val was more than a horse trainer on this journey. He became a mentor, friend and 'Uncle Val' to the entire crew. Masters explained, "He was really there to teach us. He gave us four months of his life, his personal horses, countless dollars in expenses, hard won experience, and only asked for one thing; to continue his love of backcountry horsemanship. We could've searched the entire world and couldn't have found a more perfect individual to help us through the journey, film, and life in general. We love you Val!" Val certainly means a lot to the crew, but the crew and their families mean just as much to Val. When he broke down near Flagstaff, Arizona, three of the riders' parents jumped in and helped him. "The film and everything that went into it was a joint effort by many." [image: 0 (4).jpg] *Above: Val Geissler with family friend at Big Horn Cinema's screening of Unbranded.* *Family doesn't have to be blood -* "This is my hometown. There are people who are our family...and family doesn't have to be blood. This is where my people are, and you guys come first. But don't be calling me a 'movie star.'" *Serve others - * "I think you judge yourself in life, your success in life, if you serve and do things with other people. That's my thought." Val enjoys spending time volunteering at the Senior Center. *Feature Photo: Val Geissler with Phill Baribeau, Director & Cinematographer at Big Horn Cinemas in Cody. * #reboot #news