This is the story of a wild mustang who sees the beginnings of the Old West as he is continually captured by humans who try to break him.
There are a total of two females in this film (neither of which speak because they are both horses) and they both are simply personifications of two of the boxes which women are always put into.
First, there’s Spirit’s mother who doesn’t really do all that much. She raises him and the two have a connection, but she has zero story-telling importance.
Then there’s Spirit’s girlfriend Rain. At one point, Spirit is captured by a tribe of Native Americans, and Rain is the steed of one such Native named Little Creek. She’s spunky, but she doesn’t really differ all that much from other romantic interests. Except for the fact that she’s in the movie less. I don’t really think I can even call Rain a main character.
The only purpose Rain has is to be Spirit’s girlfriend, and she doesn’t even have a moment of glory. Sure, she acts with courage at one point when the Native village is under attack and she rushes back to save Little Creek. But do we see her jumping through gunfire or forcing US soldiers off their horses? No, but we see Spirit doing that quite a bit.
Also, this wouldn’t be a proper love story if the guy didn’t get to save his lady at some point. During this fight between the Natives and the soldiers, Rain is shot and falls in to a river. So, Spirit jumps in after her and keeps her from drowning. Then, a little later, Little Creek finds her and, presumably, manages to get the bullet out of her because (spoiler) she shoes up at the end of the movie not dead.
I also have a problem with how Spirit finally gets back to freedom. Little Creek helps Spirit escape his final human-made prison and reunites him with Rain and then sends them on their way. Now, even though Rain has been Little Creek’s horse (presumably) awhile, the goodbye between Spirit and Little Creek is much more heartfelt and drawn out than the goodbye between Rain and Little Creek.
Furthermore, Rain goes off with Spirit back to his herd, even though she is happy in the Native village and loves Little Creek. This is the third example of a girl who sacrifices her home and heritage for a man’s home a heritage. If you forgot, the first two are Ariel (The Little Mermaid) and Jane (Tarzan). And yet, we have exactly zero examples of guys who give up their way of life for the love a girl.
Basically, I think this movie has not acknowledged the progress which animated movies have made in regards to female characters since the 1970′s.