From the Bookshelf: The Faraway Horses

I do owe you a report/review on The Last Queen, which I promise I'll get to, but I need to get caught up on one final vacation read, Buck Brannaman's The Faraway Horses.  I picked this up (thanks to wifi at our rental house!) on vacation for a nice easy read.



If you aren't familiar with Buck Brannaman, he's the horse trainer who Robert Redford's character in The Horse Whisperer is based on, and he served as a wrangler/trainer/consultant for the horses in that film as well.

While I was mostly interested in this book for the horse-related anecdotal stories about his life (he began as a kid trick-roping prodigy with his older brother), as well as various horse-training tidbits, the human story of a kid who really had a tough go as a youngster and where he is today would be of interest to anyone who likes memoirs, I think.  His mother was a severe diabetic and wound up dying when her two boys were fairly young, although they had already entered the rodeo/trick roping circuit by that time.  Their father, who was an unstable personality even before his wife died, drank more and hit the kids more after her death.  Buck and his brother eventually wound up in foster care and from his account, it was the second chance that saved his life.  His foster parents instilled a lot of traditional, basic good human values in him, including the value of hard work, a kind word, and treating creatures with respect.

The book follows his career as a horse-trainer from his late teens up to the current day, and for someone who personally has had a couple of strong personality horses (albeit ones willing to work with a human partner, but definitely with their own sensibilities about who was right and who was wrong in a dialogue between human and horse), and one horse who had a lot of baggage from his prior career on the racetrack, I really appreciated the stories about working with different horses with different needs.  If nothing else is certain in this life, it's that everyone - horse/human/whatever - is an individual who needs to be approached in that way.

I found this a great summer read.  Interesting, entertaining, nothing too cerebral - and a nice portrait of a man who has devoted his life to working with horses.  Having read his memoir, I'd be interested in seeing some of his classes, or just having him over for dinner.  He seems like a decent, genuine guy who likes horses - hard for me not to like that.

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