Horse Sense: A Trip To Buck

“Discipline isn’t a dirty word. Far from it. Discipline is the one thing that separates us from chaos and anarchy. Discipline implies timing. It’s the precursor to good behavior, and it never comes from bad behavior. People who associate discipline with punishment are wrong: with discipline, punishment is unnecessary.” – Buck Brannaman

Some girls talk to their hairdressers about life. Cowgirls talk to their farriers. We’ll joke about these things: how people have babies without having animals, how we get snarled at for treating people the way we treat our horses, about how the world would probably be a better place if everyone was a true horseman.

All joking aside, there are rich truths to these things. We’ve seen them arise in our own families and we shake our heads, not because we know it all but because we might know a better way – the way our horses have shown us. We’re not ones for nonsense, because the horse isn’t either. The only true way to teach a horse anything is to work with their nature and understand how they think. One of my most loved qualities about a horse is their ability to hold you accountable for your actions. If you’re mean, they will be fearful. If you lack the ability to be firm, they might kill you. They are mirrors of their owners, and in (more) truth, I don’t think the majority of this world could handle that – staring at oneself and seeing who they truly are.

Buck Brannaman came to Bozeman at a perfect time, first because my young horse, Lucy, has recently served me challenges I don’t exactly know how best to overcome. I needed his words and actions to help me navigate these obstacles that are sure to be ahead for she and I. Second, because I look to horses to better navigate through my own life. Why is that one trembling, why is this one angry, why is that one so calm. Which horse am I? Life, and horses, are easier to understand when I can see versions of myself and my horses in others. What worked, what didn’t, what can I take from this? Horsemanship has no graduation. It’s a wave of learning, ever rolling in.

While our Bozeman weekend was filled with lots of great horsemanship inspiration, it was a much needed getaway for Chris and I, too. We don’t have human babies but our ten animals keep us pretty busy, picking up toys and throw up and cleaning and feeding until we’re blue in the face. It’s a lifestyle we couldn’t live without but it sure was nice to bounce around Bozeman without a plan, eating and spending way more than we should’ve, but of course, laughing all the while.

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MSU students in the Colt Starting class listen to Buck’s narrative ride

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