Ben Masters is the “mastermind” of Unbranded. In 2010, he and two friends completed a 2,000-mile ride along the Continental Divide. They were broke at the time and adopted some $125 mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management to supplement their string of quarter horses. They were surprised to find the mustangs outperformed the domestic horses. Intrigued, Masters looked into the wild horse controversy and found a sad and complex situation: 50,000 unwanted wild horses and burros living in government-leased pens and pastures and in need of permanent homes. He decided to do something about it. The Unbranded idea was born.
Masters recruited riders Jonny Fitzsimons, Thomas Glover, and Ben Thamer to join him on his quest and brought Director Phillip Baribeau on board to guide the film’s production. Masters then inspired and persuaded organizations and individuals from around the world to join the Unbranded mission, which resulted in a successful Kickstarter campaign and crucial funding for the project. During the ride, Masters was charged with the mapping and logistics for sixteen horses, four Aggies, and three alternating cameramen traveling through unpredictable terrain with changing landowners, agencies, and restrictions.
A native Texan, Masters graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in wildlife biology. During college, he attended classes in the spring, led horseback rides in Yellowstone during the summer, guided Wyoming elk hunts in the fall, and managed the Jacalon Ranch in South Texas over the winter. Masters, who is CEO of Fin & Fur Films, LLC, is an accomplished photographer, an experienced horse trainer and packer, a dedicated conservationist, and main author of the book Unbranded.
“It was a very easy decision for me to put everything on hold after graduation and go on this trip. I’m a city boy whose heart belongs in the mountains.” Thomas Glover hails from the big city of Houston, TX but took to the mountains like an old school packer.
While getting his degree in Construction Science at Texas A&M University, Glover spent his summers leading horseback rides in Rocky Mountain National Park and one fall guiding elk hunts in Wyoming. His reliability, mapping, and horseshoeing skills were crucial to the success of the trip.
As a kid, Thamer spent every spare minute camping, fishing, hunting or skiing, which “taught me to appreciate the natural world and thrills that only Mother Nature can provide.” He admittedly obsessed over the cowboy lifestyle and wore out copies of Lonesome Dove.
Thamer immersed himself in college, finishing with a degree in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M. He always did what was responsible and expected, "I joined a fraternity and started heading down the conventional path to a job in an office, wife, kids and a house on a cul‐de‐sac. Although I enjoyed my time in college and gained a ton of knowledge, I always felt pulled in a different direction. When Masters asked if I wanted to go on this trip, I couldn't say no."
Thamer's quick wit, willingness to be the cook, and vet skills made him an ideal traveling partner. Thamer now works in the Texas Cattle business.
Jonny grew up on a cattle ranch in South Texas. He’s been on horseback since he could walk and is an accomplished horseman with skills in polo and training horses. He graduated from Texas A&M December 2012 from the School of Liberal Arts with a History degree. Jonny alternated his summers between working on a horse ranch in Argentina, chasing poachers in Tanzania, and working dude and cattle ranch in Southern Wyoming. He is currently working as a petroleum landman in Texas. Jonny is the guy you can rely on to get things done, and stay calm in a crisis. He is razor sharp, has a wonderful dry sense of humor, and his experienced horsemanship was a huge asset to the team.