July 23, 2011

Buckin' Good

A hot Saturday proved perfect for meeting a friend in Winston-Salem and checking out the new documentary about Buck Brannaman.  If you have no idea who that is, Buck is both the equine advisor and the man upon whom Robert Redford's character was based in the 1998 film, The Horse Whisperer.

A great theater always helps, so we tucked in at the Aperture in downtown Winston -- you can order up a beer and a baked-from-scratch treat and enjoy your film in fine style.

And enjoy we did.  I knew Buck by reputation, had read about him, seen video of him and his incredible bridle horses, and tried to attend one of his clinics when I first bought Solo.  Alas, they were always full.  He has remained one of the only touring "cowboy" clinicians that I truly respect, perhaps THE only one that I know of.  After you watch the film, it's clear why.

Despite a brutally abusive childhood, Buck became a sensitive and empathetic horse trainer who studied intently under Ray Hunt, who in turn learned from the legend, Bill Dorrance, the man who first showed America that you don't have to hurt and terrify a horse to train him.  Buck Brannaman took all of this on the road and nine months out of the year, tries to help horses by teaching people feel, compassion, respect, and understanding.

The film itself is getting a great reception, both from horse lovers and those outside equine circles.  I think even without being a horse-crazy nut, it's easy to connect with Buck's story and there is something simply beautiful in watching him interact with horses and humans.  His family and friends provide glimpses into a man of a quality that everyone wants to be closer to, either simply in association or in emulation.

Not all stories end in triumph and there are horses so damaged, ironically by people who thought they were being kind, that even Buck cannot undo the havoc that human betrayal has wrought.  But here, too, Buck is able, through what is I am sure extreme frustration and sorrow, to teach and to guide people in hopes of avoiding repeated experiences in the future.

You may have to do some hunting to find it; check your local independent theatres and call and request if they are not currently carrying this movie -- it is worth the effort and worth the watching and I hope it continues to build its momentum!!


  1. Buck, Hunt and Dorrance were legitimate cowboy trainers looking for a better way to produce good working horses.
    The New Age, buy-my-special-halter NH marketers took what they did and made it into a money industry. Some people don't get the difference - they shouldn't own horses.

  2. I just wish I had thought of convincing people to buy magic halters. *sigh* I would be a terrible entrepeneur -- I never realize how much money dumb ideas can make you!

  3. I loved that movie!! It was so amazing! I wish I could kidnap Buck and have him be my instructor from now on. I'll be watching that over and over again. He's also the only "celebritized" trainer that I've ever seen that doesn't try to market his stuff, if he even has any stuff. He got super respect points for that.

  4. Glad you got to see the movie. I was captivated through the whole movie. Wonderful! My non-horsey husband went with me and he enjoyed it very much. He didn't take a nap like he did when I took him to see "March of the Penguins"

  5. Hahah, glad I'm not the only one who was formulating kidnapping plots!

  6. It was an awesome movie & I got to watch it with a fellow horse lover, eventer79. And yes, I too am fantasizing about spiriting Buck away so he can teach me his amazing skills. ;)

  7. Blue, I'd be willing to share, we could keep him like, in Danville and split the difference. ;-)