Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Emergency! And thoughts on Buck

There's Been An Interruption

There's been a wee interruption in Beautiful's training schedule because of horse back rides and the 4th of July weekend. Last Friday a big group of us went out on the trails for four hours of fun. My daughter came with me for her first trail ride of the season.

Call 9-1-1

Her horse, Cowgirl, (above) is amazing! She can just jump on her and go, go, go! Cowgirl has been this level-headed since she was a three year old and they first started training together. Actually, she has been this level-headed since we purchased her as a weanling and hauled her up the snowy, treacherous roads of Hwy 95 through the heart and soul of Idaho. From the Southernist point to almost the Northernist point, Cowgirl, as a weanling, was the model of calm and intelligence.

This is what happened....

Cowboy and I were on one side of the trailer tacking up while Shiloh was on the other with Cowgirl. One second it was peaceful and quiet, I was brushing Cowboy, and the next second the whole trailer was being yanked around and Cowboy was starting to pull back as well. He was looking at me for some direction, but it was clear that he was 50/50 about going beserko.

The sad thing about emergencies is that you aren't given time to think things through. Hmmm...he's pulling back...I can do one of three things....number one..... Don't think so.

The good thing about emergencies is that you find you're actually pretty smart when you don't have time to think. When I saw Cowboy was 50/50 on the whole beserko thing, my hand was at the rope before my mind had time to catch up, and I untied him and had the rope through the loop and in my hand. When he calmed down (which took seconds rather than minutes) I tied him back up and went around to see what happened.

Cowgirl had pulled back and her main cinch was broken. We don't know if it broke first and caused her to spook or if she spooked first and then broke it when she pulled back. Of couse, better it broke back at the trailer than on the steep trails; that could have been a disaster for my daughter. And, what is a disaster for the daughter of my heart and soul, is a disaster for me.

Disaster averted...she removed the broken saddle and replaced it with an extra we had in the tack room, and we were able to ride.

Finally, The Movie, Buck!

As you all know, I've been talking about the movie, Buck, for months and months now. Just when I was losing hope I'd ever see it, it came to Spokane. My friend and I met beforehand for a glass of wine and then my daughter joined us at the mostly packed theater.

I want to start this review off by saying I don't believe in personality driven training programs. In other words, just because I like Buck Brannaman's way with horses does not mean I want to be Buck Brannaman. It does not mean I want to go to clinics with Buck trainees or buy Buck endorsed products or become a Buck groupee.

I DO think Buck, like other great horsemen and women, has dedicated himself to learning about horses and doing the least amount to get the maximum results and communication--something he can model and teach others. His god-given sensitivity, a combination of his natural personality and having grown up with an abusive father, has given him an awareness of the horse that few people ever get. However, it also comes from dedicating himself to and spending almost all day every day with horses. Like a great musician, painter, writer, he put in the time and learned the essentials, and now he's a Master.

He has a quiet hand that comes from having a quiet mind. It was a joy to spend an hour and a half with him in the movie. I only wish it could have been longer.

Can All Horses Be Fixed?

If you haven't seen it yet, there was a large portion of the movie which covered the training of a "broken" horse--broken in the sense of having been ruined. How that stallion turned out to be so mean, we'll never know (we can guess), but it sure was sobering to witness.

It gave the movie an edge of melancholy because there was not a happy ending for that stallion.

Could Buck have worked him and got him to being gentle enough to ride? Probably. He did accomplish a lot the day he worked with him roping his feet. Could the lady who owned him keep him gentle? No. Even the paid trainer could not get anywhere with that horse and was almost killed in the process of trying.

It was interesting to me that the documentary ended on such a realistic note. Sometimes you don't get your happy ending. The director did not tidy it up or sugar-coat it for us, and maybe she accomplished what she was after. I walked out of that theater thinking of what a great responsibility I have to NEVER have any part of creating a dangerous horse. It is my responsibilty to make sure my horses develop in a way that is safe, stimulating, and respectful. It's my responsibility to make good choices.

Did you see the movie? What were your thoughts? I'd love to hear everyone else's reactions to it.

***Since I wrote this an article and interview were published that address the stallion. Here it is.

Together Time On a Bicycle Built For Two!

Do you want some together time with your son or daughter? I have an idea! Get them on a bicycle built for two and you will have them tethered to you. A captive audience!

On the 4th of July my husband and I took the kids on a beautiful ride along the river. At first they rode the tandem, but later we switched and I rode it with my daughter.

A fabulous day.


  1. I very much enjoyed that movie even though I felt the whole thing was pretty bittersweet. Buck's separation from his family was pretty poignant- it was obvious that there's an awful lot going on there under the surface.

    I was really struck about how much his friends and family care about him. Buck has learned to talk about his past in a matter-of-fact way but his friends and family can't.

    My non-horsey husband even enjoyed the movie. He's been pretty negative about my mare, thinking that I'm crazy to work with her, so when I agreed with him that that horse needed to be put down he felt better about my perspective on things. Even at her worst, Gwen was never anything like that horse.

    Speaking of which, I think Buck really cut that woman to the core- which was exactly what she needed- and I absolutely agree with what he said after she left. I only hope she was able to hear his message.

    Oh- and I'm not sure how far Dan is going to get in horse training if he keeps dropping his guard and turning his back like that. I would have kept both eyes on that horse at all times. When he walked away from the corral and almost got nailed in the head I literally shouted in the theater.

  2. I always think that any horse can and will pull back, especially the ones you think won't do it.
    I haven't seen the movie, but hope to.

  3. I felt the bittersweetness you're talking about, too. You made good points. Maybe if there's a happy ending for Buck it will be that people will bring their horses to him and he can stay home with his beautiful Wife.

    Well said about the stallion and the lady owner.

  4. I live in Colorado and saw "Buck" about a week ago. I loved the film and have been in several of his clinics so, that was fun to re-visit what goes on in the clinics. I remember at one of the first clinics I went to Buck said that he rarely rode other peoples horses that were brought to the clinics because he had had his share of bad experiences on animals that were like that stallion in the film. He said people would bring in these out of control untouched horses to see if they could prove he couldn't handle them. I thought Buck was right on in his assessment of the horse's owner and questioning why she felt the need to have 14 studs on her property. It had to be obvious to her that this horse had such a predator personality, that's why she brought him to that clinic, which was a colt starting clinic, and wouldn't bring him into the round pen with the other horses. She thought he was going to be able to fix something that was ingrained into that horse because of a) a difficult birth to b) the fact the only training he seemed to have was to be thrown out with a herd of studs from day one. She thought he was going to work a miracle and in the end there are horses that just can't be fixed for what ever reason. I was more upset that after attacking the trainer she finally woke up and decided to have the horse put down and then proceeded to try and load him back into a trailer. If it was me, I would have have done the only humane thing left for that horse and put him down on the spot rather than stressing him out further and having to get Buck involved just to get him into the pen so they could force him into the trailer to be taken back home to be put down. He should have been put down right there and hauled off. Other than that I think the film was well done and showed exactly how Buck is and the wealth of knowledge he imparts is amazing! - Sharla

  5. Shirley--you're right about horses pulling back. We have to always be prepared.

    Sharla--Thanks for your input--that was interesting and thought-provoking. You couldn't help but think an injustice had been done that horse from the get-go. And what you said about that being a colt-starting clinic? I respect Buck for not doing it for them--that wasn't his job--though it was obvious he could have done it--though I doubt it would have transferred to the owner. I have a friend who trains and her saying is always that she can train the horse, but who's gonna train the owner?

    Good for you for going to the clinic--I bet you learned a lot (Was it colt starting?). I'm hoping to audit the one in Dayton at the end of the month--probably just for a day. There's a lot to learn watching someone with his understanding. Someone needs to film some of those clinics and sell the DVDs--if they haven't already done it.

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  7. What a nice afternoon you must've had on the Fourth. It's such a pretty place for a bike ride, especially with that waterfall. We had a laid-back Fourth, at home with a small cookout and hanging out around the house.

  8. Linda, I broke my horse and did all of his training using the Brannaman DVD's and going to 3 clinics with him the year I broke him. We did the colt starting clinic first then later that same year we did horsemanship 1 & 2. Hombre is 7 now and he is the outstanding, calm horse he is today largely because of Buck's methods. After seeing the film it gave me the bug to go one more time, to a cow working clinic. Hopefully next year someone in the area will sponsor one. You won't be disappointed if you go to audit! - Sharla

  9. Cowgirl sounds like a real sweetheart, glad nothing dangerous got a chance to happen and you all had a nice ride.

    The bicycle ride looks like a wonderful day spent together with some gorgeous scenery.

  10. Thanks for the review, I can't wait to see that movie!

  11. I went to see BUCK on July 3rd, really enjoyed it. As an added bonus!!! Buck was there! after the movie. He did a Q & A session and even moved it outside onto the sidewalk! It was a very small one screen theater.
    Some one asked Buck it that lady still has all those studs, and he said "Unfortunatly she does" I didnt get it so much from the movie, but I do believe after hearing him talk about it, she did have that little yellow stud put down. Sad that the horse could get to that point. I got to have Buck sign both of my books by him, that was great!! I thought it was great that his daughter is joining him out on the road in the Summers now!
    Oh and he shook my hand lol he has the biggest, warmest, gentle hands!
    I live outside of Portland, Or. we drove into the city to see the movie.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.