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People and Horses Relations: “Buck” by Cindy Meehl Essay (Movie Review)


People’s constant attempts to train animals in order to exploit them in the future are based on the definite historical processes and the characteristic features of the social development. From this point, the animals’ exploitation often depends on the usage of rather aggressive methods of training. To find an effective approach to training animals, it is important to understand the nature of their behavior and reactions.

Buck Brannaman, an American horse trainer, accentuates that relations between people and animals are often the reflections of their interpersonal contacts and behaviors. That is why, to achieve the desired results, it is necessary to treat horses with references to the principles of sensitivity, security, and trust.

Buck Brannaman’s approach to training horses can be discussed as unique in comparison with the other techniques which were traditionally used by horse trainers and cowboys because it is based on the methods which are opposite to abusive breaking horses, and his approach was discussed in detail in Cindy Meehl’s documentary film “Buck” (2011).

To examine Buck’s complex methods, it is necessary to pay attention to the perspectives from which they can be analyzed completely. Buck Brannaman’s approach is explored in the film with references to Buck’s childhood as the background and significant factor for forming his attitude to training horses and with emphasizing psychological issues of the work which depends on human-animal relations.

The main perspective from which it is possible to explain the Buck’s choice of his approach and development of its principles is the reference to this real character’s background. Buck Brannaman’s childhood was not happy because his mother died when he was a young boy, and his father was rather aggressive in attitude to Buck and his brother that is why the characters of the film often refer to Buck’s childhood as ‘abusive’ (Buck, 2011).

However, presenting the pictures of Buck’s successful communication with horses which depends on leadership and trust in contrast to the character’s stories about his childhood, the author of the film draws the audience’s attention to those conclusions which Buck made, having analyzed his experience and background.

It is impossible to hope for effective training and understanding between a horse and a man when the training methods depend on violence and punishment. Buck developed his methods and philosophy of training horses basing on the idea that horses react to aggressive techniques of upbringing as children react to any types of punishment.

Thus, Buck accentuates the fact that his memories about childhood influenced his vision of effective and ineffective relations not only between people but also between men and animals. Training horses and preparing them for being ridden, men are inclined to use methods which can give immediate results as submissiveness and obedience.

Nevertheless, Buck states that breaking horses’ will as breaking children’s will, trainers or teachers cannot achieve their goals successfully and provoke opposition. That is why, Buck comes to a horse only with the intention to help the animal and the owner and with such words as “Nobody’s here to hurt you” (Buck, 2011).

Therefore, the concentration on Buck Brennaman’s background with references to his memories and discussions helps to understand the trainer’s way to choosing alternative methods of preparing horses for being ridden. Children’s upbringing is effective when it is based on the understanding of the children’s nature and their behaviors, and animals as well as people should be also treated according to the peculiarities of their nature (Miller & Lamb, 2005).

In spite of the tensions and abuse which boys experienced in their childhood, they were the local stars. Thus, Buck was famous for his tricks with ropes when he was only six years old, but his success and popularity with the public were the results of his father’s using violent and abusive methods to train children. That is why, the inner opposition of Buck to the violent methods of training is the result of his attitude to his personal experience.

The author of the film accentuates the significance of Buck’s early experience because the aspects of the character’s background become the important factors for the boy’s further development as a personality. Buck Brannaman rejects violence as the effective method for bringing up children and training horses. The keys are in ‘understanding’, providing ‘security’ and taking ‘responsibility’ for actions (Buck, 2011).

It is also important to pay attention to the fact that following all the aspects of effective upbringing and communication, Buck has no enough time to concentrate on his family, his work does not allow him spending much time with his own children. However, Buck states that he always tried to avoid the mistakes made by his father, interacting with the other people and his children (Buck, 2011).

The aspects of the human-animal relations are often based not on the obstinate character of an animal, but on the character of a man who is responsible for training his horse or any other animal with references to the animal’s nature. According to Buck Brannaman, “your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will” (Buck, 2011).

That is why, Buck concentrates on demonstrating the significance of mutual understanding between the horse and its owner. To emphasize this idea, Cindy Meehl presents an important episode in which Buck Brannaman discusses the absence of possibilities to work with the horse which was not treated as it was necessary because of the owner’s failures.

Commenting on the situation, Buck states that “the horse didn’t fail us. We failed him” (Buck, 2011). Thus, the human-animal relations should be based on meeting the animals’ needs with following the owner’s goals according to this horse (Miller & Lamb, 2005).

The psychological aspects of the human-animal relations are presented in the film with references to Buck Brannaman’s approach to the problem. The horse trainer emphasizes that “rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems” (Buck, 2011).

From this point, Buck refers to his main idea that the behavior and characters of horses are the reflections of their owners’ behaviors. That is why, the appropriate attitude to horses and concentration on their security is the representation of the owners’ correct attitude to any kinds of relations which are based on understanding, but not on violence.

Cindy Meehl’s “Buck” can be discussed as the successful attempt to explore such controversial issues as the relationships between people from the perspective of their relations with animals. Thus, the author states that these processes are interdependent with the help of concentrating on the biography of Buck Brannaman, accentuating the peculiarities of his background and psychological issues of interactions between horses and their owners.


Buck. (2011). Web.

Miller, R. & Lamb, R. (2005). Revolution in horsemanship. USA: Lyons Press.

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"People and Horses Relations: "Buck" by Cindy Meehl." IvyPanda, 17 Apr. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/people-and-horses-relations-buck-by-cindy-meehl/.

1. IvyPanda. "People and Horses Relations: "Buck" by Cindy Meehl." April 17, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/people-and-horses-relations-buck-by-cindy-meehl/.


IvyPanda. "People and Horses Relations: "Buck" by Cindy Meehl." April 17, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/people-and-horses-relations-buck-by-cindy-meehl/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "People and Horses Relations: "Buck" by Cindy Meehl." April 17, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/people-and-horses-relations-buck-by-cindy-meehl/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'People and Horses Relations: "Buck" by Cindy Meehl'. 17 April.

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