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Equine Therapy: “BUCK” The Movie

horse in paddockBefore Ceasar Milan came onto the scene, people thought that fixing bad behavior in dogs had little to do with the dog owner, and even less to do with the relationship he/she had with the dog.

Well, we now know that the way a dog acts is often a telling reflection of the way the owner handles him/her. And what Ceasar has done for dog owners, Buck Brannaman has done for horse owners. The newly released movie, “Buck” tells the story.

Weaving easily between poignant moments at several of Buck’s four day colt starting workshops and glimpses into his home life and horrific past, the movie sheds light into horse and human relationships in a way not seen before. As the inspirational force for the movie, “The Horse Whisperer,” with Robert Redford, Buck has taken the teachings of the late Ray Hunt, and embarked on an non-stop journey to encourage people to re-think the nature of the horse and the way he is trained.

In one of his well attended seminars Brannaman describes riding the horse as asking a prey animal to “allow a predator (human) to crawl on his back,” then adds that he’d also like to “strap some pieces of dead animal (saddle) on the horse’s back too.” The movie then intersperses interviews with several of Buck’s friends, followers, and clients, that have seen miracles occur with their mounts, and in the process, given cause to reconsider not just how they approach their horse, but their life as well.

In one emotional moment, Buck tells the owner of a very dangerous stallion that, “she ought to enjoy life more,” when she reveals that she has 18 other stallions at home who are equally untrained. Later, when the painful decision had been made to euthanize the horse, Brannaman explains to the audience that “humans wronged that horse,” and that the horse, “could have been something.” In this illuminating scene, the movie drives home the point that horses are, after all, reflections of their humans, and further, that “we can’t blame the horse for what has happened to him.”

Using several example from human life, Brannaman continuously encourages the audience to see things from their equine partner’s perspective, and in so doing, improve their understanding of the horse. However, perhaps more than asking the viewer to reconsider the nature of horses and horses training, Buck asks that people look at the horse’s behavior as the mirror into the soul that it is.

Even for the non-equine enthusiast, Buck is a fascinating film that is both funny and insightful, in it’s message that horse training is about much more than riding a horse.

Equine Therapy: “BUCK” The Movie

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2011). Equine Therapy: “BUCK” The Movie. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Jul 2011
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