Riding with Buck Brannaman – A Series

Posted in: Horse Training

I would like to consider myself a professional horseman. But the truth is, I’m merely on the journey.  It’s true that I get to spend my days horseback, but just because someone makes a living doing something, doesn’t mean they’re as good at it now, as they will be in 10 years, or even 20.  There’s always something new to learn when it comes to riding and teaching horses. I know people that train horses for a living that could care less about the horse, and even less about whether or not they’re considered a horseman. That’s not me. To me, horsemanship is about the human taking responsibility for the horse. It’s about timing. Softness. Feel. Foot Cadence. Balance. Harmony. You learn to realize that any shortcoming in the horse’s performance is your fault. It’s about looking at things from the horse’s perspective.

So how is it, that someone like me (who has made a living horseback, and rides daily), chooses which clinics to attend and why? Why have I been riding with Buck since 2010?  Why will I continue to ride with him once a year as long as my health, my checkbook, and my schedule permit?

Because horsemanship is a life-long journey.  Some people might consider me to be a horseman, but I pale in comparison to Mr. Brannaman.  Thankfully, Buck is wise enough, dedicated enough and kind enough to share his knowledge with the world. And I do mean the world!  He spends about 40 weeks a year on the road, so chances are there’s a clinic near you! And if you’ve never been to a Buck Brannaman Clinic, I would highly recommend it-  with the caveat that they’re not for everyone.  They’re not for the weak-hearted, the easily offended, the impatient, or anyone who isn’t ready to take full responsibility for their weaknesses.

So who is Buck Brannaman?

In the words of journalist Tom Brokaw- “[he] is part guru, part psychologist and all cowboy. He is a nineteenth-century man in a twenty-first century world…”

He isn’t just your ordinary, run of the mill horseman/clinician and to me he certainly stands taller than anyone you see on RFD Tv. Not that there aren’t some handy folks on that channel. But there’s a difference between mechanics and feel. You can see it in his horses. You can see it in him.

He is an author,  was an advisor in the movie “The Horse Whisperer”,  and was featured in the award-winning documentary, “Buck”.

He’s a master at reading the horse’s mind, body and soul and he is able not only to communicate that effectively to the horse, he’s able to help you, as a student, learn to think, learn to communicate, and learn to take responsibility for your horse’s shortcomings.

He, is a student of horsemanship that goes above and beyond most, by studying classical dressage all the way to the early masters such as Xenophon (as close to that classical dressage as we’ll get today is the modern Bridle Horse). He’s played polo, rides with George Morris (world renowned jumping horse trainer), helps dressage riders Olympic Level Competitors, buckaroos (who cowboy for a living), professional horsemen (even other clinicians), to the greenest of the green riders, the world around.

There isn’t one thing he does best- he is a master of communication with horse and rider. By choice he’s one of the less commercialized clinicians of the “Natural Horsemanship” movement, and if you were to ask me I’d say he’s the only one that you need follow.  I have reasons for that, which we’ll delve into as we get further along in these discussions.

Stay tuned: there are 6 posts in this series!

Posted in: Horse Training

About Jenn Zeller

Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...

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