There is an amazing video making its way throughout the interwebs. And no, I’m not talking about the %$@^&*# jumping cow from Germany, which has gone viral faster than you can say springreiten.
I’d heard about “Buck”, a new documentary about the life of trainer Buck Brannaman, but until I saw the trailer yesterday, I hadn’t paid much attention to the fuss being made over it. Honestly, not until one magic word was attached to it:
That’s right, mainstream. I live for the day when horse sports get their own “mainstream” TV channel, a lá Golf TV. I dream of riders making the Star Tracks section of People Magazine, just likes sports stars Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Apollo Anton Ohno (you know, the speedskating guy) do on a regular basis. Hey, anything’s possible!
Those days may still be so far off in the future it seems like they’ll never happen, or, they may be closer than we think. Which brings us back to the big fuss that a lot of “mainstream” people are making over this documentary that could maybe, possibly, be a mainstream hit. In January Sundance Selects/IFC Films picked up the rights to the film, and after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, it won the 2011 Audience Award. The documentary follows Buck as he teaches clinics, works with horses and recalls how his childhood shaped his horse philosophy. Buck is widely acknowledged as the inspiration for Robert Redford’s character in The Horse Whisperer (no, it wasn’t Monty Roberts. . . ), but he has mostly kept a low profile over the years. That may change now that first-time director Cindy Meehl has captured his story in a way that everyone, riders or not, can relate to. I’m no film critic, but the editing, the clips, the soundtrack (go Pearl Jam!), it all pulls you right into the heart of the story:
And that’s the big, giant, missing link. If you’re reading this blog it’s safe to assume that you’re some kind of rider, and it’s safer to say that you’ve heard all about natural horsemanship training methods to the point of just being tired of all that round pen, rope halter nonsense. But I think that what we horse people tend to forget is that the concepts these guys are quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) promoting will never fail to blow the minds of our non-horse counterparts. Horse whisperer Zen is captivating, and the well-done story of this “cowboy philosopher” could very well go mainstream.
Whether you’re a show jumper, dressage rider, polo player or some other participant in horse sports, Buck’s lessons in horse training apply to you. No matter the discipline, partnership and good communication are the best horse training tools we have, really. We horse people may understand the whys and hows of Buck’s methods, but to our non-equestrian friends, it will all look like magic. So don’t just go to see the movie. Tell your friends who don’t know horses about Buck, and take them with you. The film gives us one more reason to love horse sports, but it may give countless others their very first.