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"I'm helping horses with people problems." Buck Brannaman
If you love horses, Buck will not buck you. If you don't love them, this documentary will make you love Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for the novel The Horse Whisperer and technical adviser to Robert Redford on the film of the same name.
Interestingly enough, you don't see him whisper; he just snaps and waves a couple of red flags to convince the animal he cares about them. His results, even with the feistiest and most deadly horses, are remarkably successful. Buck is a soft song of praise to a wrangler psychologist whose gift with horses defies analysis, so unassuming is he, so gentle that he appears not to be working at all.
His interaction with humans is just as successful with clinics all over the West to show owners and trainers how to tame the liveliest colts. His loving relationship with his wife and daughter, who performs at rodeos with him, is a testimony to his belief that humans are key to the happiness of the animals.
His no nonsense advice is nowhere more effective than when he tells a rancher about the effect of her neuroses on the troubled horse he is attending to. Tough love.
When Buck asks, "Why let an animal live in fear?" it is apparent Buck has a connection with horses that goes beyond breaking them for riding. When he describes how a horse naturally fears a human on his back in the same way one jumped by a lion does, the lesson about empathy is clear.
Buck is a cowboy with a remarkably wry sense of humor and self-effacing pride. His tough love melts into a universal love that straddles the beast and human worlds.
The back story about his abuse by his father adds to his credibility and mitigates the otherwise thin deconstruiction of his persona. While I am frustrated because of the film's unwillingness to probe deeper into his talent and his psyche, what you get is what you get: a man gifted with horsesand humans.
Greetings again from the darkness. I made a point to attend the opening
night of the film as its subject, Buck Brannaman, was slated to hold an
audience Q&A after the film. Unfortunately, he was running a bit late,
so we only got about 8 minutes of his time. Still, this remarkable man
made an impression ... an impression of authenticity and realism. He
may perform a "show", but his is no "act".
The inspiration for, and technical adviser on, the film "Horse Whisperer", Buck Brannaman explains early in the film that a horse views a human tossing a saddle on his back much the way he would view a lion attack. Such is the manner in which this man makes his points to the eager and often doubting horse owners who attend his clinics. Buck then proceeds to win over horse and human alike with wit, strength, character, kindness and toughness.
First time documentarian Cindy Meehl does a decent job of presenting the similarities of horse training and child-rearing. Buck's philosophy stems from the earlier work of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, but is further influenced by the less-than-stellar parenting tactics of his father. Buck and his brother Bill (stage name Smokie) were child rodeo stars who performed rope tricks under the firm hand of their dad. It is clear from the footage that they feared their father. In an unlikely twist of fate, the boys are rescued from the abusive environment thanks to the actions of a football coach and deputy sheriff. To fully understand the brave actions of these two men, one must take into account the normal custom in rural America of minding one's own business. These men didn't do that and Buck was given a new life.
Watching a quick clip of the "old" horse training techniques really brings home Buck's more gentle and understanding style. He stresses the importance of understanding the horse and being clear with one's affection and intentions. His flag waving and lead rope actions can win over a horse in a short time. The surprising part is that the horse's owner learns every bit as much as their horse. Buck is clear in that the issue with most "problem" horses can be tracked right back to the owner. The same can be said for most kids. Just as he says trying to bribe a horse with carrots and sugar leads to a spoiled, unresponsive horse, the same argument can be made for that type of parenting approach.
The frustrating part of the film is that it doesn't really climb inside the head of Buck. We see a glimpse of a man who has overcome childhood atrocities, but we also see a man who loves his family ... yet spends months at a time away from them. We see fire in his eyes as he addresses a horse owner who has the gall to keep 17 studs in her pasture. It's obvious he fights his own demons towards those who mistreat animals, yet as he lectures we wonder if his care is really for the horse more than the person. It was also strange that no real mention of his brother was provided in the film. We could say it's none of our business, but the film brings up the issue of childhood and then leaves us hanging on the brother.
Truly the inspiration to Buck's turnaround is his foster mother. She lights up the screen as she talks about Buck as a child and cracks wise with her observations and the telling of a joke. Her love for Buck is obvious and we hope he realizes just how fortunate he is to have had her in his life.
This is an inspirational man who is making a difference in the lives of people and horses. He has overcome childhood obstacles to make the world a better place. His cowboy philosophy is pretty simple. Everyone carries some darkness and baggage, and we can all make our own choices on whether to let that affect our value and enjoyment in life.
Remarkably raw, thought-provoking, and engaging, Buck sheds a new light
on the long-standing relationship between man and horse. Never before,
have I seen any fault in the ignorant and generalized view of horses.
For most of my life horses have just been animals that are utilized for
transportation and sport. But I've never considered how wrong I have
Buck Brannanam, "the Horse Whisperer", brings a new perspective to the table. Rather than continuing the tradition of beating horses into compliance, he recognized at a young age that horses must be treated with more respect and empathy. Unfortunately, the idea was to "break down the horse" (Brannanam). However, Buck inquires, "why let an animal live in fear?" (Brannanam). He understands that there needs to be mutual understanding between horse and man, since they are also sensitive creatures.
This genuine empathy that Buck has for horses almost appears to be a reflection of Buck's escape from his traumatic childhood of horrific abuse. He suggests that how one handles their horse reflects how they handle their loved ones. He further ads that, "People's horses are a mirror into their soul" (Brannanam). Similar to how one must have control over their temper with a child, one must also control their emotions when training their horse.
Likewise, this philosophy reflects how Buck interacts with the horse owners at the clinics. As much as his job is to train the seemingly difficult horses, it's also to train the people how to respect the horse. He believes that when horses seem to fail at learning and becoming compliant, the human is generally the one at fault, failing the horse.
All in all, I found this documentary entertaining and enlightening, and would most certainly recommend this movie.
"God had him in mind when he made the cowboy." A documentary following
the real life "Horse Whisperer" Buck Brannaman. Talking a little about
the movie, but mainly focused on how he starts the horses and how and
why he does what he does. I've ridden a horse once in my life, and it
was on a Yellowstone led ride so I don't think that counts, so I was
watching this just because I saw Buck on Letterman and because he lives
out here. This is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have ever
seen, and this is a movie that appeals to all people, not just horse
people. It's hard not to like Buck after hearing his story and
listening to him talk. This is a definite must see. Overall, there is a
line in the movie that sums it up best..."I went in convinced I wasn't
gonna appreciate anything I saw." We were both wrong. Very good film. I
give this an A.
Would I watch again? - I think I would *Also try - Horse Whisperer
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Saw "Buck" today. Most memorable lines: "A horse can feel a mosquito
land on its butt..." "You can move a horse with your energy. It's a
dance." "I live in the moment." "I haven't grown up yet." In the film,
Robert Redford says that Buck is the "real deal" and he is. Of the
three men that Nicholas Evans based his popular novel, "The Horse
Whisperer" on, Buck Brannaman is the sole surviving one. This biopic
shows Buck's "day at the office" as he travels from ranch to farm,
teaching groundwork, horsemanship, colt starting, ranch roping and
cattle work. He misses his family but when together, it is obvious that
it is quality time for all.
It may seem heavy-handed in our politically correct society to take someone's money for a service and then tell them something they may not want to hear. It may not seem like good customer service, but is it better to placate--the easier path--or to help? As someone with a lot of his own baggage, Buck recognizes it in his clients and knows it builds braces, hardness and even shut-down in their horses. He calls it as he sees it. Some can take it and learn. Others pack and leave.
Buck's candor and dry wit are reminiscent of another cowboy, Will Rogers. It gets under your skin and sticks like a burr in a blanket. It has a sense of timelessness, ancient wisdom, mystical, yet somehow, something that is known telepathically to herd creatures. He translates for the human.
"Buck" is a movie about a genuine human being who cares about others and--yes, more importantly--the horses who need an advocate to express their feelings. It shows that instead of letting a hard start in life be a stumbling block, it can be a challenge to a more elevated spiritual level. A win/win for all.
If some get the feeling that Buck prefers horses to humans, understand that horses speak truth. Their reactions reflect the treatment they have received and it can be read like a book. He says, "Your horse is a mirror of you. Some may not like what they see." Some might.
"Buck" barely flips the pages of Buck's life experience in the 88-minute final cut of the 300 minutes filmed, but that 88 minutes is intriguing to many--even those who have never touched nor owned a horse.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Fine horsemanship becomes a way of life." For Buck, this could not be
more true. As one interviewee in the documentary stated, horsemanship
becomes about how you treat your spouse or how you discipline your
children. It becomes about how you treat people and how you treat
The astounding 88 minute documentary "Buck" follows the life of a soulful and wise cowboy who runs horse training clinics around the country. The documentary investigates the connection between man and horse. Because of the physical abuse Buck's father put him through as a child, Buck connects with horses. He found safety and companionship in horses.
Buck demonstrates a method of horse training which advocates mutual respect between cowboy and horse. Buck discovered this style of horsemanship from Ray Hunt, who was a sort of father figure and mentor for Buck. Instead of using abuse and intimidation, Buck uses his energy to move horses. Buck experienced first hand that abuse and intimidation is no way to raise a child. Buck teaches that a horse is like a child and that you have to be a parent to the horse. Instead of dwelling on his childhood or becoming like his father, Buck transcends his childhood and becomes the father he never had. He treats horses the way he should have been treated by his father.
Although Buck and others tell his story, the documentary would not have as much value if you didn't see the connection between his present and present in almost every frame. Buck's story may seem to be repetitive, but it gives the audience a deeper understanding as to why Buck is the way he is and why he treats horses the way he does.
Buck has learned to control his emotions and resolve personal problems when dealing with horses. His approach to horse training is as much about people as about horses. You see that when people bring their horses to Buck's clinics, their own personal problems come out.
Towards the end of the film, a beautiful but dangerous stud who was oxygen deprived and was raised in a house was brought out. The horse cannot be trained, and the decision to put down the horse is made. Buck teaches that humans are always at fault and that it is never the horse's fault for how his life has been. Buck reprimands the owner of the dangerous stud for the way the horse was raised. He advises her to work on her own problems when he learns that she owns a group of studs because horses are "mirrors to your soul."
Overall, the film is entertaining and inspiring. You learn that taking care of a horse has a lot in common with raising a child and how you treat others. Even if you don't have a horse, you can apply Buck's horse training philosophy to raising a child or relationships with others.
If you are looking for a movie to get pumped for and to watch with a
bunch of your friends, do not watch this movie. "Buck" serves as the
perfect film for a moviegoer who wishes to enjoy a moving yet
informative film that will make you rethink everything you know.
Buck Brannaman is has drastically changed the lives of many horses. Touring across the United States for nine months out of the year, Buck provides four day clinics in which he helps fellow horse lovers how to interact with horses in a structural yet caring way. He helps individuals see healthier ways to train their horses, rather than use dangerous techniques or have a dangerous attitude. In the past generations, people would torture horses in order to make them tame. They would use torture, ropes, whips, and many other scary devices to try to conquer the animal's soul by force. These practices were inhumane and a stain on our relationship with animals. Thank goodness that these are not common practices today, however, most of us are still not able to conquer the challenge of training a horse in a perfectly tame and respectful manner. Buck Brannaman understands horses and truly wants others to be able to understand their horses as well. In his clinics, he compares horse emotions to that of human emotions in a way that people can understand.
Buck Brannaman says at one point in the movie that your "horse is a mirror to your soul." You may wonder where that idea may come into play in a documentary about some horse whisperer, but this idea of introspection and finding your inner self comes into play every once in awhile. Some other interesting discussions that arise throughout the film include the ideas of speciesism and the close comparison between child rearing and horse rearing.
I started watching this movie, hoping that I wouldn't fall asleep from the knowledge that I couldn't grasp with my mind's butterfly net. But thankfully, "Buck" ended up becoming one of the the most interesting and captivating documentaries I have ever seen. This movie is the bomb and be careful when you watch it because your mind will explode.
"You can discipline and discourage, or you can discipline and
encourage." Buck Brannaman, better known as the Horse Whisperer, is
really good at the second half of that quote.
Buck Brannaman has had to go through a lot in order to become the person who he is today. This spellbinding documentary follows the life of the Horse Whisperer and the awe he carries with him wherever he goes. He is the psychiatrist that works on the relationship between the horse and the human. It's Buck's story, though, that really sets him apart from others that might be like him. He has had to overcome numerous mountains in order to be the person people know him as.
Every interview that was shown in the documentary was emotional and truly heartfelt. The people that truly know Buck really understand the difficulties that he had to go through.
Switching gears, the music and camera work were on point. The shots that were captured and the music that was played with every interview, every story, every moment made the documentary what it is, outstanding!
Honestly, I was not expecting Buck to be a movie which I would
thoroughly enjoy, but I was presently surprised by this documentary. I
believe this movie is well composed and in some cases a step above a
lot of other documentaries. Throughout the film there are emotional
transitions that seem rough, but are placed well to give the movie a
good cadence. To add to the cadence of the film personal stories from
people who have had their horse tamed by Buck Brannaman are added and
give insight to how Buck is so inspirational to them. Humor is
sprinkled throughout the film, by Buck, to emphasize how such a scared
soul can heal and overcome the hardships he endured in his younger
years. He does this with his hard work and dedication to better himself
and save an animal he understands so well.
As Buck Brannnaman puts it, he doesn't help people with horse problems, but instead horses with people problems, and throughout the movie this statement becomes more and more believable. Classic movie clips are given to show how horses used to be treated by humans and the physical and emotional pain we put them through. In one extreme case presented in the movie we see the more stern side of Buck when he confronts a woman who has let her horse become dangerous and in turn now endangers the horse, and as Buck puts it "the human has failed the horse". A relationship between a horse and its owner is that of up-most respect and this is what Buck instills in people he teaches so the horse no longer feels it has a people problem.
Overall this was a successful documentary that didn't have the big Hollywood feel to it. Cindy Meehl's first shot at directing is one that punches above the waistline and should be watched by anyone who has been searching for an off-the-beaten track film.
Most people are unfamiliar with the unique bond one can have with a
horse. However, Buck Brannaman is very unlike most people.
The foundation of the film lies within Buck's violently disturbing back story. We find out, early on, that he was abused by his father throughout his childhood. As the documentary progresses, we learn more and more about Buck's incredible journey of self rebuilding. He has gone through extreme hardship to become the outstanding man that he is today.
Buck's history and inherent sensitivity allow him to relate to horses in ways the majority of us cannot. As, experienced horseman know, horses are remarkably sensitive and perceptive creatures. So much so, that they can sense a person's emotional state and recognize their personality. With this, Buck shows us how he builds an unbreakable relationship with his horses based on trust and mutual respect. At one point Buck is questioned about a particularly naughty colt.
He responds with, "That horse is a mirror. All of your horses are a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you might not like what you see in the mirror. Sometimes you will."
Buck is a cowboy that understands the true depth of these animals. No horse is inherently evil. Just as Buck knows, if one is only given punishment they will lose all trust in others. A person has failed a horse when that horse loses faith in human kindness. Buck, however helps us to succeed in gaining this trust. Not surprisingly, he advises us to start with self reflection.
The film makes one contemplate one's own character and emotions. Horses can teach us more about ourselves than any other organism on this earth. The message of this documentary is clear and backed with extreme validity. Buck teaches us to take a look inside ourselves before judging the world around us.
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