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‘Buck’: Helping Horses With People Problems

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
June 21, 2011

Buck tells the story of Buck Brannaman, a cowboy who channeled a childhood of abuse into a unique career as what some have dubbed a horse whisperer. The film about his life is part of the American Film Institute’s Silverdocs Festival.

Traditionally, horses have been “broken” by trainers — taught to obey their masters’ orders through harsh means of discipline. Brannaman, however, chooses to “start” horses.

“It’s really all about getting the horse comfortable, where he realizes you don’t mean him any harm,” Brannaman tells NPR’s Neal Conan. The horse learns he doesn’t have to defend himself, or fear the human. More and more, Brannaman says, his method for working horses is becoming generally accepted, at least in the U.S.

Cindy Meehl, the film’s director, started out thinking Buck would be a film about horses. But it became more about people. “I realized that everything he was teaching, everything I had learned from him was translating into my life,” she says.

“Horses do reveal a lot of things about us. And some of them are real good, and some of them aren’t so good,” agrees Brannaman. Sometimes, that means when he works with a horse and his owner, Brannaman learns some tough truths about the human in the relationship.

“I haven’t made a great reputation on sugar-coating things,” he says. “So I don’t guess I’m going to start now.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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