Your horse is a mirror to your soul, Brannaman tells one group, before demonstrating how treating them with compassion can tame the wildest of beasts. Buck had to learn patience and respect the hard way. As children, Buck and his elder brother, Smokie, were celebrity rope-trick performers, but after their mother died, the brothers were relentlessly beaten and abused by their father, until they were taken into care by a foster family. They helped to rebuild Buck's confidence in humans and nurtured his love of horses. His foster father taught him to shoe a horse, aged twelve, and he went on to train under celebrity horseman Ray Hunt. He then had to overcame his crippling shyness in order to set-up and run his own clinics.
Brannaman's horse philosophy could just as easily be applied to humans - he can't always perform miracles as demonstrated by a moving sequence involving a colt that was brain-damaged at birth. Sometimes, as Buck points out, the trauma is not caught early enough or runs too deep. But he is as gentle with the owners as he is with the horses, even when they are clearly to blame for their animals' distress.
Once he has calmed a troubled horse, his aim is to make horse and rider work as one, and his success rate is certainly extraordinary. Meehl's Buck provides a truly fascinating glimpse into the life of a remarkable man.
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