Annie first found her love for horses after her daughter, Charlotte, fell head over hooves for the elegant equines as a tween. The pair have been taking trail rides, dude-ranch vacations, and horsemanship workshops ever since, and this year, they couldn’t be more excited about their upcoming trip to study with Buck Brannaman, the real-life inspiration for Robert Redford’s fictional Horse Whisperer, and one of the leading advocates for natural horsemanship.
Annie knew she wanted to try a workshop with this extraordinary horseman after watching the 2011 documentary Buck, which chronicles Buck’s travels around the country—for an amazing nine months a year—to help “horses with people problems.” The transformations he’s able to create from animals previously considered difficult or even lost causes are nothing short of astounding.
Buck’s philosophy is nonviolent and not based on punishment, as are many traditional training systems. His compassionate, gentle approach helps horses feel safe and cared for around their human companions, so that horse and rider can work together as a harmonious unit. By paying close attention to how horses think, behave, and communicate with one another and with other species, Buck is able to encourage them to respond positively to and put their confidence in their two-footed handlers. Along the way, something magical happens. Showing respect for these powerful yet sometimes fragile creatures is not only infinitely more humane than more exploitative types of training, but also has an extremely high success rate, with horse and human forging practically unbreakable bonds.