I had a bunch of movies in my iTunes rental queue that needed watching, so this weekend, I sat down with my knitting and the documentary, “Buck.” What a wonderful film about the power of love, patience, and acceptance!

Buck Brannaman inspired the novel “The Horse Whisperer,” and consulted on the movie that Robert Redford made based on the book. He is a well-respected teacher of “natural horsemanship,” and give clinics all over the U.S. and overseas, working, as he says, not with people who have horse problems, but with “horses who have people problems.”

Brannaman is also a survivor of years of brutal physical abuse at the hands of his father, a stage parent of the ugliest kind, whose sons learned early that the options were to practice their rope tricks or be beaten to a pulp. They got really good at the rope tricks, performing at rodeos and appearing on television and in commercials. The beatings never really ended, though.

Fortunately for Buck and his brother, their finally lives changed for the better when they were placed in foster care with a rancher and his wife, Betsy and Forest Shirley. The Brannaman boys were saved by love and hard work. Despite being just two boys in a herd of more than 20 foster kids at the Shirley’s ranch, they were valued and accepted for who they were.

As an adult, Buck has “devoted [his] life to trying to do something good.” And his lessons go so far beyond horses. He teaches the importance of both love and firmness, of being fair and consistent. After working with a dangerously troubled horse, Brannaman makes it very clear that it wasn’t the horse who created his problems, but the owner.   He says, “Whether you’re going to have a horse or a dog or children, with that comes a great responsibility, not just to feed them and have a roof over their heads but to teach them right and wrong and do all the things to help them be able to fit into the world.”

I hope that you’ll find and watch this film. You will be moved by Buck Brannaman’s story and his philosophy will resonate long after the final credits. You don’t need to be a horse-person, or an animal-person. You just need to be a person-person.

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