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I sometimes question the decisions of the Dipson Theaters’ booker in putting some films at the Eastern Hills Mall rather than one of their theaters in the city. In this case, though, there’s no better location than the edge of the area’s “horse belt,” because if you have a horse or simply like them, you’ll want to see this documentary about Dan “Buck” Brannaman, the man whose career inspired The Horse Whisperer.

Which is not to say you won’t enjoy the film even if the closest you’ve ever come to a horse is the kind on a merry-go-round, because Brannaman’s is a story about empathy. The training seminars he does around the country are based on the premise that the worst thing you can to do a horse is to “break” it, a verb connoting distance, pain, and competition. As boys, Buck and his brother were part of a rodeo trick-roping act run by their father, who beat them on a nightly basis. This lasted until it was discovered by school officials, who put the boys with foster parents, and memories of how he healed in a loving environment inspired his treatment of horses.

You may not learn much about the specifics of Brannaman’s methods, nor is there any of the “whispering” technique on display. For the most part the film is about building relationships between two creatures so that they can work together. (As he says at the beginning, “A lot of time rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.”) And if those are lessons you have no use for, well, I hope it’s warm there in your cave.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Buck

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