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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Buck

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

When Nicholas Evans went looking for someone on which to model the horse trainer and healer Tom Booker for his 1995 best selling novel “The Horse Whisperer” he found Buck Brannaman. Then Robert Redford hired Buck as an equine technical advisor for the film version, and according to this new documentary, Buck was his double in certain scenes.

This documentary is one of the finest I have ever seen because it tells a compelling and inspiring story that leaves the audience with the sense that they have seen a truly great film – and met a genuine human being.

Buck and his brother were trick rope wranglers from an early age. Their mother, a wonderful woman by all accounts, was a waitress. She died very young but even before she died, the boys were terrified of their father. After her death, he beat them regularly. A school coach saw the marks on Buck’s back and reported it. The boys were placed in a loving foster home; the couple raised thirty foster children – all boys - in their lives.



The film follows Buck through a series of four-day horse clinics that he teaches for nine months of the year. We meet his spirited foster-mother, Mrs. Shirley, and understand the nurturing influence she and her husband had on Buck and his brother, Smoky (though we don’t learn much about him in the film, Smokey spent twenty-five years in the Coast Guard, married and has a family with grown children. Buck said in an interview that Smokey “has had a good life.”) We even meet the sheriff who rescued the boys, one of Buck’s best friends growing up, his wife, and the daughter who has become an excellent horsewoman and trainer herself. This is a film about hope, resilience, self-knowledge and awareness, self-control and respect. If a person develops these character traits, he or she will be successful with horses, other pets, and most of all, people.


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