Buck | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


A doc that looks at one man's gift: breaking horses with respect

Horses, like dogs, are man's longtime co-workers. But Buck Brannaman isn't convinced that humans and horses are interacting correctly, particularly during the critical period when an untrained horse is "broken." Buck takes a holistic approach -- more gentle firmness and respect for the animal's perspective, and less restrictive tackle and indiscriminate whipping -- swearing that any rider and horse can learn to function as one complementary and happy unit. Cindy Meehl's documentary follows Buck as he leads numerous training sessions, out on the road for 10 months of the year. The film also recounts Buck's unique background as a child rodeo star who performed under the command of his abusive father's whip. Thus, Buck believes he has a hard-won affinity for how a mistreated horse might feel. Late in the film, Buck meets a horse who, like himself, is the product of a dysfunctional upbringing; but not every sad creature can be mended with love and discipline. Recommended for horse people; others may find the 90-minute Buck padded, though many of Buck's equine lessons are all-purpose food for thought. Starts Fri., July 8. Destinta Bridgeville.

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