If you live within driving distance of a movie theater, go see the movie about horse trainer extraordinaire Buck Brannaman, titled simply, “Buck.”
It’s more than just a documentary about Buck’s life on the road transforming horses and people. “Buck” is an inspirational exploration of the positive energy that can be harnessed when you let go of a painful past.
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 in this case, the mirror held up to his is full of light.