Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman with William Reynolds

There are times when these blog entries just blast out of me. This is not one of them. I had a strong emotional response to The Faraway Horses, and I wanted to represent the power the book inspired in me here on the pages of this blog. I have a feeling that parts of this book may show up in future entries as I process what I read. I know my book pile has changed: more of the books waiting to be read have horses in them. I hope you will forgive me for this somewhat jumbled entry: I am too connected to this book to hold clarity for the moment.

I have long loved horses. As a girl, I was introduced to horses in a way that changed me. I learned to ride then, but it was the connection I discovered that still affects me. Someday I hope to reconnect with horses more regularly. Reading The Faraway Horses allowed me to do that in some small ways. I find some of what Buck Brannaman does with horses simply remarkable. Greater I feel his truth, his gentle, compelling presence with them as a way of being to be true for those of us who seek honest, trusting relationships with others. I believe Buck would say he does that with horses.

"The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see..Sometimes you will."

His work is based on relationship. Often referred to as a horse whisperer, he invites horses to connect with him, and with the horse, he works from a place of respect and trust, absent of control and coercion. He has a unique way of listening to the horse and being aware of each time the horse makes a behavior change that connects with him. In the book he explains how horses are herd animals and how the horse trainer/rider can train the horse to view the rider as the herd. Buck's upbringing was pretty brutal, and throughout the book, he writes about how his father's way of doing things became counter to his own. He sees his work with horses to be the opportunity to not do what his father did to him, to give back to the world what is possible, and to offer humans and horses the relational connections that he witnesses and experiences each time he is with a horse.

"Every time I work with a horse- or a person--that's troubled or scared, I think of how the problems and solutions relate to a human's life, including my own."

I found myself hearing Buck's voice as I read. It is a deep voice, somewhat gravely, definitely cowboy-ish with that accent I associate with my relatives from the South and with wide open terrain of fields. That voice I hear comes from seeing the movie Buck, the documentary film about Buck's work with horses, more than once. The film won the Sundance U.S. Documentary Audience Award in 2011 and has been nominated for an Academy award. While in many ways parallel, the book offered me a chance to listen in to his words more care-fully and hold them closer inside of me.

The endless depth of respect Buck extends to horses mirrors that of close human friends. I know I'll never forget Dottie, the horse I rode as a teen. Although she was not my horse, I felt an honest connection with her. I remember a transparency in her eyes that surprised me and confirmed me. I wonder now what she saw in me, and I wonder what she felt when she was around me. Greatest I wonder what it might be like to have the kind of relationship Buck has with horses with my own horse. 

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