Monday, March 02, 2015

A Conversation with Buck Brannaman - Full Article

October 10, 2011
by Annette Venteiche

Buck has been my friend and mentor for more than 18 years. He has changed the course of my life and the way I think and feel about horses and people. It was a privilege and an honor to interview Buck on behalf of Arabian Horse World.

I didn’t know there was a better way to train horses until I watched Buck at a clinic in 1993. While my sister was attending Buck’s clinics, she kept telling me how great he was with young horses. At that time I was working in Kentucky at Paramont Arabians. I was winning some pretty good prizes and thought I had it all figured out. So I flew out to Buck’s clinic just to appease my sister. I was flabbergasted.

I took my first colt IXL Premier Edition (VF Premonition x Raya Royale by *Bask) to him in late 1994. I bawled the whole week. Buck was pretty tough on me. My colt was spoiled and Buck had to be pretty firm to get ahead of this colt’s naughty energy. Buck held me completely accountable for it. He said, “I’m having to be this firm with the colt because for three years he’s been allowed to be a tyrant. It’s your responsibility to help them be better from the time you halter break them so they don’t have to go through this.” And he spent five days roping that colt’s hind legs. He got him to come out the other end, but it was a lot of work.

I left that clinic and as soon as they became available I bought every Buck Brannaman book and video I could get my hands on. I took that colt back to Buck’s clinic the following year and he was stellar. Buck was pretty proud of what had taken place during that year with that horse.

Another Arabian Buck helped me with was the Half-Arabian mare LBC Isabeaux by MHR Nobility. I later sold her to Molly Purdy and the Rookers took her from there and I think between Carmel and Shawn riding her and Molly riding her, and even other amateurs, she’s gone on to win at least 15 National championships in the open, the amateur, and the youth division as a Half-Arabian Park Horse.

I brought her along using the methods I’d learned from Buck. I rode her in a stock saddle and a McCarty rein. When I took her to Louisville she’d never been to a horse show. I was worried about that, but Buck just encouraged me to cover country with her. He said, “Give her every reason to be afraid and then come out the other end.” We’d come up on deer and all kinds of scary things out in the woods and because I’d get her through all those things she learned to believe in me.

At Louisville she won her first section unanimously and ended up Top Ten. When I was waiting for them to call the Top Ten, Jim Stachowski and Molly Purdy were there trying to buy her. Sheila Varian walked over to me and said, “Girlfriend, you just gave the boys a riding lesson.”

Buck changed me. At a recent roundtable discussion in Montana, Buck said, “When I first met Annette, she was pretty difficult to be around — just like her horses, really uptight. And over the years I’ve watched a transformation take place, not just with her horses but also with her kids and her other relationships.” He’s right.

I caught up with Buck recently when he was here at the McGinnis Meadow Cattle and Guest Ranch in Libby, Montana, where I work, and he shared his thoughts about the film, his horses, and life.

How has the film changed your life?
Not at all. Except in one big way: I hoped that the documentary would spark interest in making a film based on my book “The Faraway Horses.” I have been trying to get this done for over ten years but producers felt that my story wouldn’t be interesting to the general audience. This documentary changed all that. It seems it was compelling to people whether they were horse people or just plain folks — a story that anyone could relate to...

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