Can you beat this origin story?

Buck’s drunk dad beat him “unmercifully” for not putting on a perfect trick rope performance when he was a kid.

A gym teacher and sheriff helped to free him from his father after seeing welts on Buck’s back and legs.

Buck then dedicates his life to breaking violent horses others say are impossible to break. His clientele comes to him in tears….but he fixes things. He’s a “Horse Whisperer”.

I want to be as good a man as Buck!

Notes: Thanks to Steven Messler of Tate for pointing Buck out way back when.

If you love horses, you might want to check out 2 articles I wrote: The 17 Best Documentaries About Horses (that’s got Buck listed as #2!) and The 14 Best Documentaries About Horse Racing.


Where to Watch

You can watch Buck for free on:

Other options (including renting it on Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Microsoft.com) might be here: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/buck

Note: I streamed Buck on Netflix but it’s not on there any more (as of September 29, 2023).

My Favorite Parts (includes Spoiler Alerts)

  • Rodeo Beginnings: As children, Buck and his brother were roped into performing rope tricks at rodeos, a skill their father taught them.
  • When Buck was a kid, his football coach Cleverley made Buck shower in PE and noticed the whip marks on his back.
  • Coach Cleverley and local sheriff France plucked Buck and his brother from their abusive father Ace’s house and placed them in a foster home. Tom Dorrance taught Ray Hunt and Ray Hunt taught Buck.
  • Horse Training Clinics: Buck travels nine months out of the year, conducting horse training clinics. These clinics teach owners and trainers how to better understand and communicate with their horses.
  • Approach to Troubled Horses: Buck believes that often, when a horse is troubled or problematic, it’s reflecting issues with its owner. He often says, “I don’t help people with horse problems. I help horses with people problems.”
  • “It’s no different with a horse than it is with a kid. You can’t always be a kid’s best friend. First you have to be a parent.”
  • Buck seems to be be far the best person in the world at breaking horses.
  • Buck says most people with horses are 90% physical/10% mental. He recommends reversing that.
  • “Natural Horsemanship”: Buck is a leading proponent of “natural horsemanship,” a philosophy of working with horses based on understanding and respect rather than dominance.
  • Rescue Story: There’s a particularly moving segment in the film where Buck helps a violent and traumatized stallion. This serves as a powerful metaphor for his own past and the healing he’s undergone.
  • “The Horse Whisperer” Connection: The character of Tom Booker in Nicholas Evans’s novel “The Horse Whisperer” and the subsequent film adaptation directed by Robert Redford is partially based on Buck. Redford consulted with Brannaman during the making of the movie.Buck works as Robert Redford’s consultant in the movie “Horse Whisperer” (1998)
  • The Buck doc premiered at Redford’s 2011 Sundance Film Festival and Sundance still distributes it.
  • Personal Life: The documentary touches upon Buck’s personal life, including insights from his wife Mary and their daughters.
  • Good soundtrack including Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe”.