In the 1990s natural horsemanship techniques were thrown into the spotlight with the Robert Redford film “The Horse Whisperer.” Buck Brannaman was the real horse trainer, or some might say people trainer, that inspired the lead character in that film. Although several people have claimed to be the inspiration for the film, author Nicholas Evans said, “The one who truly inspired me was Buck Brannaman. His skill, understanding and his gentle, loving heart have parted the clouds for countless troubled creatures. Buck is the Zen master of the horse world.”
About 30 years later, the documentary “Buck” took a closer look at Buck Brannaman and introduced him to a wider audience than the devoted horsemen that follow him once again. “A lot of times, rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems,” he says at the beginning of the documentary.
Some call him a New Age kind of clinician whose teachings go beyond horses. “All your horses are a mirror to your soul,” he said. “And sometimes you might not like what you see in the mirror.”
Brannaman believes in building respect but not fear in the horses he trains. Having grown up a child of an abusive father, Brannaman has talked about how he found comfort in the friendship of horses. The compassion he sought as a child he now channels into his training philosophy. “The horses need to respect you,” he said. “But sometimes people confuse respect and fear. They’re not the same at all.”
A student of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, Brannaman now teaches clinics worldwide and this fall he will be in our region for two clinics.
- From Sept. 30-Oct. 3 he will be in Walkertown, North Carolina, (about 2-hr drive from Roanoke) for a Colt Starting and Horsemanship clinic at Sullivan Farm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- From Oct. 7-10, he will be in Lewisburg, West Virginia, (less than 2-hr drive from Roanoke) at the State Fair of Virginia grounds for a Foundation Horsemanship and Horsemanship clinic. Call 828-899-2051 for more information.
“I often tell people in the clinics, the human possesses the one thing that means more to the horse than anything in the world, and that is peace and comfort,” Brannaman told ABC News in 2012. “That’s all they want.”
Buck Brannaman in the news
- You Can Also Lead a Horse to Nirvana
- Buck Brannaman, The Horse Whisperer
- Buck Brannaman on Horse Herd Behavior and Yielding Softly
- Horse Whisperer Buck Brannaman Talks About Being the Subject of a Sundance Award-winning Doc
- ‘Buck’: Real-Life Horse Whisperer’s Story of Abuse, Finding Comfort With Horses