Monday, May 28, 2012

Horses With People Problems

OK, so now I'm through with handling sheep. I've hosed my shoes down to get rid of the odiferous clumps of 'stuff' caught in the treads. It's time to move on...or maybe, it's time to look back; I have a final Buck Brannaman post to share with you. There isn't much I didn't love about Buck. I loved his smile. I loved how humble he was. I loved his wry humor. I loved his calm assuredness around horses. I loved his direct approach with people - however, I might not love it so much if I were on the receiving end!

Buck claims he doesn't work with people who have horse problems, he works with horses who have people problems. Throughout the movie and the demonstration he pointed out examples of this.

During the demo, within seconds of his work with the gray Mustang he pointed out that the mare was 'bracey' on her left side. Even though she hadn't been ridden, the mare had been handled quite a bit, and we humans tend to work on the horse's left side. He stated that horses "are keen on figuring out if they can make you move your feet." So this sweet little gray mare had learned to be pushy and to move into people, even Buck on his huge horse, to see if she could take control of the situation. As she hadn't been handled as much from the right side, she hadn't acquired this habit on that side, and was much softer and much more willing to yield.

The paint horse that Buck worked with was a green 4-year old. His owner explained that she had done a lot of ground work with the horse and had begun to ride him. She'd ridden in the arena and had also gone out on the trail a few times. Buck spent a lot of time desensitizing the horse to the rope. The horse absolutely hated being confined by it. She put on quite a show, and Buck, in his droll manner commented, "I'd like to see a little better response to a rope than that!"

Buck explained that using a rope around the neck with the hondo and knots he uses is far safer than having a horse in a halter. Once the horse gave in to the rope around his neck, Buck made him move his feet. He began to allow the rope to touch the horse on his back, sides and around his legs. The first time the rope touched his legs, the horse kicked out violently. "I'm not crazy about that immediate response, wanting to  kick," Buck commented. He went on to suggest he wouldn't particularly care to be on the horse and fall, getting hung up in the stirrup, and having his head 'back there' where the horse was kicking the heck out of the rope!

As Buck continued to work with the paint, he settled a bit and would turn in towards Buck. Buck spoke the horse's mind, "all I gotta do is turn and look at ya and that makes everybody happy." Buck went on to say, "Uh , not so much, me.  I need you to move your feet." The horse began to trot around the arena quite happily. However Buck noticed that he had 'tuned out'. He asked the owner if she had done 'some' lunge work with the horse, knowing the answer before it was given! Apparently Buck recognizes that lunging can be unproductive and he abhors lunge lines. He commented that, "some people are scared of ropes, but they should be terrified of lunge lines." He explained that ropes (as in lassos) can be organized quickly and easily, but the web lunge lines that most of us use can get tangled, are often looped up in our hands and make it too easy for us to get hung up in them. He made some sort of comment about hating to see us being dragged by a foot or hand around the arena or across the field! Two things that Buck noticed, the horse turning in and the horse mindlessly trotting around the circle are people problems. The behaviors aren't constructive. I do lunge my horses, and I've begun long lining them, as well. I need to look into this a bit more to make sure I'm not doing something that is unproductive, or worse, counterproductive.

When Buck began working with the gray Mustang, she was reluctant to move her feet. Out of fear or perhaps just because she wasn't quite sure what to do, she froze. As he began to push her to move, Buck explained that "the horse has to learn to move his feet without being in trouble. A lot of times they'll move but they'll move through escape, through self preservation. Then if a person doesn't know the difference,  if they don't notice, they get on and then they're a little disappointed in themselves that they got on and wish to heck they hadn't." (Another example of Buck's brand of humor!) But, there's moving... and then there is moving out of panic. Shortly after Isaac mounted the Mustang Buck had him moving around. The first time she trotted, the gray became concerned and started to canter. You could see she was about to buck. She was about to lose control. Buck spoke quickly to Isaac, almost harshly, telling him to pet her. Buck was so quick to avert disaster and a bad beginning for the mare. This may have been where he told him to, "rub bald spots on her." It was amazing to watch, but the gray calmed down and came out of panic mode.


  1. How I would love to have seen Buck work with the horses! Thanks for sharing your notes, very interesting!

    I lunge and long line, too. Not so much anymore, we are trying round pen work. But I do think it can be beneficial if done correctly. And yes, I am a major klutz with all those lines!

  2. Sure this is your last Buck post??? Interesting insights that man has.

  3. Awesome equestrian pictures, thanks for posting.

  4. Thanks for posting that. I found it all very interesting. Would love to attend a Buck clinic someday

  5. Even though I don't ride any longer, I would have enjoyed watching Buck in action. Some people have such a good understanding of horses.

  6. You got to go to a Buck clinic??? Will have to go back and catch up. Stupid crazy spring...


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