You don’t have to love horses to love the documentary “Buck,” but if you do, it makes watching this film an unforgettable experience.
“Buck” is a people story–it’s a documentary about horse whisperer legend Buck Brannaman’s life on the road transforming horses and people (and I use the term “horse whisperer” as an adjective of respect here, not to say that Buck was the sole horseman who inspired the book of the same name, because he shares that honor with Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, according to Nicholas Evans).
“Buck” is also an inspirational exploration of the positive energy that can be harnessed when you let go of a painful past.
Most of all, “Buck” is a celebration of horses–why we love them, how they help us heal, and how they bring us joy. It’s offered on HorseBooksEtc. for $24.95.
Buck’s way follows natural horsemanship as taught to him by the late, great horseman Ray Hunt, and instead of the old emphasis of “how to break a horse for riding” the lessons these men follow are all about teaching the human to be a kindler, gentler horse trainer.
As Buck explains it, when there are rotten horse behavior signs to be seen, the human is usually the failure, not the horse.
“Rather than helping people with horse problems,” Buck says in his slow drawl during the film, “I’m helping horses with people problems.”
Directed by Cindy Meehl, the movie’s cinematography is beautifully painstaking in its details of the horses that Buck encounters during the nine months he is on the road teaching clinics. The scenery as he travels across America is also larger than life, just like the man, whose ability to instill confidence in a frightened horse seems magical.
Yet not everything in this film is wine and roses. Buck has arrived at this peaceful place of transformation despite of, or perhaps because of? a horrific childhood of abuse at the hands of his father, who pushed Buck and his brother to become trick rope performers even as he scarred their backs and their souls with his beatings.
He tells how he found solace in horses, and it’s clear from watching the film that they find comfort in him.
“Your horse is a mirror to your soul,” Buck says, and even when he points out a painful truth to one woman and she dissolves into tears, he’s as gentle with his lesson to her as he is with all the horses he helps.
Watching the film “Buck” made me laugh and made me cry, but most of all, left me inspired to be the best human I can be, whether with another person or with a horse.