Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Tag and Buck

I was tagged, I think by two different blogger friends and I can't recall who at the moment, but I am finally getting to it!

Here are the rules:

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one. Pick the Closest.
Tag five people to do the same.

The book that is closest to me, since I am reading it any chance I have a free moment since I purchased it Sunday evening at the local bookstore, is:

The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman


And that's when things fell apart. The moment I got on the colt, he pulled back and bucked forward. We had a hell of a time, and then I'd peel myself off. After a little bit of this, I was sitting there thinking things were going pretty well. I was enjoying the elevated view when the colt pulled back again and broke the halter rope six inches from the halter. If that happened to me today, I would be in a six-foot tall round corral, from which it would be hard for a horse to escape. On that day, however, the only thing I had surrounding me was a hog-wire fence about four feet high. The ranch didn't have a round corral or an arena or anything like it, just a hog pen. There are moments in life where certain odd thoughts go through your mind, and this was one of them. The sun wasn't quite up yet, but that sky was a bright blue. I remember thinking how pretty it was. Then, after a nanosecond of stillness, off went the colt bucking and kicking with me pulling leather for everything I was worth.

It is a fascinating book so far. Buck has had quite the life, as a child of abuse, foster care, and a stint as a pretty successful trick roper (he was in the Guinness Book of World Records.)

Another interesting tidbit about Buck Brannaman. I did not know this before the clinic this past weekend. But Buck was consulted by Nicholas Evans before he wrote his book The Horse Whisperer. Now the book was good, but the movie is one of my all-time favorites and I always loved Robert Redford's portrayal of Tom Boker's character. Little did I know he was based on Buck! Buck was also Robert's body double in many scenes and was a consultant on the movie set. Buck also used one of his own horse's, Pet, for one of the horse actors that played Annie's damaged horse, Pilgrim.

While at the clinic, I noticed people filming Buck with large, professional looking camera equipment. I overheard someone saying that they were making a documentary about him. I am assuming they were filming footage for this. I have read online that they are making a motion picture about this book The Faraway Horses, so I am not sure if this is the same as the film or not, but I am assuming it is.

My cousin K over at the Saddle Mountain Rider blog asked me via email what some of the differences and similarities were of Buck Brannaman from the Parelli and Ken McNabb clinics I have also attended.

This is my perspective. Remember, I have only watched Buck in a clinic one weekend, I am reading up on him now but do not have a lot of experience with his "way" yet.

I felt that all three horseman have similar overall concepts regarding the understanding of horse behavior and natural horsemanship. I felt they (at least Parelli and Buck) credit the same people (Ray Hunt and the Dorrance brothers.) Buck follows the vaquero cowboy tradition, which really values horsemanship, pride and artistry in their equipment, and solid roping techniques. To me, it appears that Buck's work leans toward working cow/rope/ranch horses, but also applies to any style of riding. In fact, there were a few dressage riders in the clinic. I think his manner was true to his character- he cussed, was direct with the riders, told it like it was, yet was as soft as fleece and humorous, too. No doubt about it, Buck gets to the point. He's honest and appears to notice everything.

Now the horse's Buck rode last weekend, oh wow. His horses were true QH's, no little munchkins that you see dominate the reining barns these days. I believe they were younger and green (Saturday morning Buck said that the horse he was on, he just "pulled it off the hill" from back home. That horse didn't look off no hill to me!) His horses had huge hindquarters, and were almost more Thoroughbred in type. They were real working horses, that could cut cattle or rope, yet could do dressage with all the skills he teaches them. They were really athletic, calm, and responsive. I would love to know the breeding of his horses, if anyone knows, please share!

One interesting thing I noticed about Buck is that he is completely the opposite of the more commercialized natural horseman out there today. In fact, on Sunday, I actually asked the woman at the table where you pay for auditing if they had any of Buck's books or videos, because the flyer I received via email had mentioned a limited number might be available for purchase. She pulled a plastic bin off the floor of the dusty arena, set it on the table, took the lid off, and let me peruse the few books and DVDs inside. I mean, could you be any less commercialized? This was completely the opposite, of say, the Parelli event I attended last spring. I have nothing against marketing and hey, it works on me! In fact, I wish there was more Buck "stuff" because he'd make a few bucks off me if there was! But I honor his intentions, which appears to be to share his gift helping people become good horseman, not making a ton of money. Please note that I am not implying this is the Parellis' goal, I am a Parelli fan as well and I believe they truly love horses and educating people. I am just comparing the approaches.

In regards to riding, I think that the Parelli's have accessible information and equipment to everyone at all levels and they have really broken down step by step so that people can study at home. I love the Parelli groundwork I have taught My Boy. However, when it comes to riding, it gets a little weird for me (riding w/two carrot sticks, bareback, bridleless, etc.) I am not sure I am comfortable with these methods. I am sure they build upon the groundwork skills and are a stepping stone to communicating without carrot sticks. If anyone knows more specifically, please let me know. But since I have a choice, I think that Buck's approach to snaffle work and his approach to building a soft feel and responsiveness in horses makes more sense to me.

Fellow blogger Latigo Liz over at Cowgirl Up is posting soon about her experience riding in the Buck Brannaman clinic.

For more information about Buck, you can go to his website here.

As for the book tag, I'm not going to tag anyone specific....if you would like to participate, please consider yourself IT!


  1. I am so happy to hear you say what I'm hearing!! You are such a good little student - I'm proud of you!! You're right - no flash, no marketing showplace, no ego...I could go on and on. This, besides the fact that he is freaking amazing with horses and is so natural and at ease makes it so easy to learn from him. My granny's (old-time horsegal/born 1899) biggest compliment she could bestow on a person was "he is just so common" seems befitting of BB and a few others. They are so good they don't need the ego and all the accompanying flash. I admire that so much!! Good for you PG - keep the info coming - like I said before, you're very good at relaying information you have soaked up.

  2. PG, You are inspiring me to get my report done. :)

  3. Buck is pretty darn cool. I like it when there is less marketing and more riding. My father in law got suckered into a lot of buying of videos and monthly videos and montly news letters. It's cost him about 1500 if not more. And I do not see much of a difference in the way he works horses??? Sigh.

    I am glad you had a great time, and I would have loved to have gone. I love that picture of him roping and jumping!! So cool.

  4. I know I should be commenting on what a great horseman Buck is, and I will, I really will. I'm still a little distracted by the yummy photos. He is one tasty bit of cowboy, if I may just say. I'm a little weak in the knees. I think I'd better go lay down...

  5. Oh I need to tell you this last weekend we met this young fella, he is two time world champion trick roper! He did some of his tricks for us! He is awesome! I tried to get some pictures, it was in the evening. So no photos.DAng IT. And Sista.. You don't need to know how to cook to rope a cowboy! Dontcha have an apron!? he he! (wink)

  6. Hey, have you heard about the farm tax laws that WA might change? It might affect your sister if they consider themselves a farm right now.

    Spread the word to any WA horse people so we can all sign the petition and contact our state reps!

  7. I am glad to see that you are branching out, Pony Girl!

    Horsemanship is rather like psychology, with all of it's different theorists and ideas, isn't it? Thus the need for "eclectic" horsemanship, as you already!!!

  8. I'm glad you posted this. Opportunities for clinicians for me are few and far between. I've heard of BB, but know nothing about him...I'm sure I would like him. I've already checked for his closest clinic to me in 2009...but it's not on his website yet. I'll keep checking back.

    But, I've never been a fan of "trainers" or "horseman" that put on a dog and pony show with gadgets and "their" I can only train my horse with "their halter"...not my thing. the the's worked for years. It's how you use it that's important.

    Look forward to more posts from you!

  9. The riding time is what I appreciate about Buck and some of the others like him. I do like and find extremely useful the Parelli groundwork, but after a certain point, ya just need time in the saddle to get the results you want.

  10. If you liked this read his book Believe after. I got a signed copy off of for $6.00. Love this guy. Want to attend one of his clinics!

  11. I kind of had the same experience with a Mark Rashid clinic, he's very understated and non commercial but he genuinely loves teaching about horses. Parelli groundwork helped me tremendously - but the hard sell - yeah, it turns me off. Plus, they seem to skip over the entire 'starting your horse under saddle' part! Mind you, my horse is very prepared for it , with all the groundwork he has had!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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