Buckin’ A+ Cowboy Ethics

Every once in awhile a quiet, brilliant soul rises noticeably within the fray that is the American hyperactive media machine. The latest is Buck Brannaman, a plain spoken cowboy who has practiced the art natural horsemanship for over a quarter century. Among his more notable mottoes:

I don’t help people with horse problems so much as I help horses with people problems.

Buck and Cindy by the round pen on location

Buck Brannaman has been  working with, retraining, starting and restarting equines for most of his adult life. Recently a very satisfied client of his was inspired to shadow him for as long as it took to get enough footage to turn his life, his way of being, into a documentary. Director, Cindy Meehle, founded Cedar Creek Productions in order to create a home for this wonderful piece of work. She and four other hugely gifted and skilled women collaborated to create this Audience Award Winning entry at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. With her background being in couture fashion Ms. Meehle may at first strike you as an unlikely candidate for being able to get this story right. Wrong! She nails it! Probably because she’s a horse woman herself.

Her film is respectful, down to earth and as naturally beautiful as the methods of the man she is filming. What rises to the surface in this film making it much more about broader perspectives than just human interaction with horses – is how it illustrates human interaction with self in the context of horses as only one area where personal cause and effect is immediately recognizable. Mr. Brannaman teaches that in order to work well with horses one must first understand one’s own relationship with them and be open to learning their ways in order to maximize positive and effective communication.

Creative Consideration

Let’s be like Buck! Here’s how:

Wearing this hat will make you feel different

  • Get an awesome cowboy hat and wear it. Buck seems to like Stetsons. This one’s pretty cool.
  • Pay attention to the body language of those you wish to communicate with.
  • Use as little ‘pressure‘ as it takes to do anything all week.
  • Be firm yet respectful.
  • Add this film to your Must See list on Netflix. It isn’t in wide release but momentum may be building.
  • Get the song that closes both the film’s trailer and the film itself: Just Breathe by Pearl Jam. (that’s the live version – it’s also on iTunes)

Creative Consideration

In your sketchbook or journal – document an unpleasant time in your childhood and record the benefits that resulted from that experience. That is exactly what Mr. Brannaman did in his book The Faraway Horses”, some of which is covered in the film. His childhood was less than ideal in so many ways – but set the course of his life. It probably could have gone either way – he chose the path that while maybe not easier has provided meaning and substance in deep seated foundational ways.


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