I wanted to share my thoughts on a Buck Branamann clinic I attended, to hopefully save some other people from the same disappointment and waste of money.
I’ve never really been into “natural horsemanship” but I think there are some fundamentals that can help no matter what discipline you’re in. I saw the documentary, “Buck”, and really liked some of what I saw, so I signed up for a 3 day clinic nearby.
Day 1 - Buck comes in the arena without saying a word and starts working a horse for 30-45 minutes without explaining anything. We are all watching, and I’m seeing some of his corrections, the “good deal, bad deal” or “plan A, plan B” that you see in the documentary. Ok, fine. Then he stops and says, “Any questions?” For a really green rider, what they just watched wouldn’t mean much. You had to know a lot to see what he was doing. So there’s almost an hour of time that isn’t used in the most efficient way. Next we moved on to walking circles for two hours. Yes, there were things he told us to work on, but with 35 people in the clinic, there was barely any personal instruction.
Day 2 - Same thing at the beginning. Buck comes in and works a horse again without saying anything. “Any questions?” So we stand around for another 30 minutes with people asking questions, then it’s back to circles for another 2 hours, again with barely any instruction. We trotted for 10 minutes at the end working on “soft feel”. Basically get your horse to collect/frame up/round his back (whatever you want to call it) for a few steps, then release. My horse is broke to death. That’s not hard, but the more advanced riders weren’t given another task to do, so day 2 was another waste.
Day 3 - Same freaking thing again with Buck working the same horse from day 1. Today we only spent an hour on walking circles, then moved on to trotting with the soft feel, and finally trotting, leg yield to the rail, then pick up a canter. That was it.
Did I pick up a few nuggets of info? Sure. Was it worth the $750 I paid? Absolutely not.
Besides that, I found him to be downright offensive at times. He was trash talking people who had attended the clinic the week prior, putting down other disciplines (anyone who shows a horse is basically an idiot because all of the maneuvers are overdone for the judges). He barely had a complementary word to say about anyone or anything except Ray Hunt and riding on a working ranch.
Most of the people there were women who were genuinely afraid of their horses, afraid to trot or canter their horse, genuinely fearful. They’re not working on a dang ranch!! The reason he does so much stuff at the walk is because it gives these women something to do where they can feel like they’re successful with their horse without actually having to ride.
He talks about all this foot control and body control. That’s all well and good, but when you’re working cattle, you don’t have time to place each foot. You need your horse to sidepass 10 feet to the left, it just needs to go. I don’t care which foot moves first as long as all 4 feet get there in a timely manner.
I’m sure some Buck devotes will get on here and tell me I’m a POS and an idiot because I don’t “get it”. Fine. Then I don’t get it. I had a super nice, broke horse that I took to a clinic and instead of learning anything, he was putting people and other disciplines down. I don’t need to pay good money to listen to an insecure person try to prove their worth.
If you really are considering riding in a clinic, please go audit one first. I think you’ll find the reality to be very disappointing.