Monday, November 22, 2010
DVD Review:* Buck Branneman "from ground up"
This was a hard review for me to do. Why? Because many post Parelli students can't say enough good things about him. Mainly that he teaches much more advanced stuff in timing, feel and bio-mechanics. However, most of these people have taken lessons from him, a clinic with him, ridden with him or a student of his...RECENTLY and are not in a colt start situation.....HUGE difference from watching an 18yo colt starting clinic dvd.
This dvd set brings me instantly back to the "catwalk" incident with Pat a few months ago. I don't think I have blogged about it yet....guess it is high time to do THAT! But that is an issue for another post. But the relevence here, to this review, is this:
During the "Pat and Cat Show" as it infamously became dubbed, I was on the Horse and Hound forum, and defended PNH, as I answered about 200 questions from Parelli Haters, explaining what Parelli is, what NH is, and trying to explain/defend some VERY old videos of Pat trailer loading (circa 1980'ish) Linda and Barney (the one eyed horse circa early 2000's), and Linda and the Grey Arab. So I thought to myself, before I condemn a man for a video that is nearly 20ys old, I would have to give him the same respect I asked people to give Pat for his 20yo video. Why? For God sakes, they are 20 years old. I would hope that ANY horse trainer is significantly better now than they were 20ys ago. After I watched the first dvd, I asked some current Buck students/post parelli students if this dvd was indicative of the man/trainer he is today. Of course I was told no, it isn't....but I was also reminded that any good horseman will do what ever they feel is required, based on a split second gut descision, in the face of staying safe, more like alive sometimes, and what will help the horse make a change for the better, while hopefully giving the horse as much 'choice' in the matter as possible, and this includes the likes of Pat Parelli. I have seen dvd's and video footage, not so old mind you, up to and including Catwalk, where Pat has done just that. It may not always be pretty, it may not always be appropriate for the venue or audience at hand. But being a master horseman means helping the horses who cross your path, WHEN they cross your path. We can't always be so choosy.
As I have said in another dvd review, the dvd doesn't always reflect the "in-person" clinician, nor thier current teachings, and thus, this review does not mean I suggest that one should not seek out auditing or riding with him, which is highly recomended BTW! And I was highly impressed with his trailer loading dvd, though would like to see how he handles a "Problem Loader". But if the person also has NOT made any thing current, and they currently sell these old dvd's, I guess we are left with no choice but to judge them based on what is available. Since I am not rich, and don't have alot of clinicians coming to my area, I can do no less than judge each dvd, from a "home study" student perspective.....the same way I judge Pat and Linda. Either the material is suitable for home study or it isn't. So without further adu, here is the review:
Part one: **
First, I would try to order these two parts together, as this one ends in a "to be continued" in the middle of a session with a horse....ooops. so keep that in mind if renting, try to get them together. The dvd starts with some difficult to hear audio, because the venue is aparently directly below a small airport! This is basically a colt starting clinic, and the first thing I notice is that he is on his saddle horse, driving the colt from behind.....hmmmm, how interesting! Remember in a previous review I said, most of the great masters, actually DO use the water hole rituals, in thier own version....again.....how interesting!
The next thing I notice is that since this is in the infancy of NH becoming "popularized" this is back when most colts were pretty much left alone, and brought in as rank colts to be started, so this is a real plus for Parelli students, that with all that we have learned, are learning, should we be in need of a 'colt start', our horses should 1000% ahead of the game, and not have to endure the harshness that even a master NH horseman can dish out, to save his own hide, while starting a horse that someone else did not prepare them for! Do your homework people....
I was a bit uncomfortable with some of the harshness, but also know that when you only have a day to make a difference in the lives of 6 colts.....you become 'efficient'. It was evident to me that Buck knows what he is doing, what he is looking for, and gives the release needed when the horse gives him what he asks. Compared to some of the cruelest, all too common 'breaking' methods that have been done for centuries, this clinic did it's job of the time period, and showed people that there is a better way, and thank god, it is even better now than it was then. As he is working with the first colt, in the background, outside the roundpen, are the owners of the next colts, and lets just say.....'oh boy' do they need to learn a thing or two, and clearly are in the right place at the right time. The antics going on, and the ignorance of the handlers, use to be common place too. Since most of the people I hang out with are either Parelli or well educated/experience horse people, thankfully I don't see this too often anymore, nor can I say it is me!
Buck is a buisness man. He is about getting to the business side of the horse and not wasting time. I think for more advanced students this is a good lesson. We often are not confident enough, and cause the horse to wait longer than he should to progress. We do tend to baby them a bit in our own fear or ignorance, and they can infact handle a whole lot more, a whole lot sooner, the better our own skills are, so this is refreshing to see one just get on with it, and not drag it out 7ys from halter starting to saddle starting.
There is definately some things to be learned here. More experience for our eyes in charting horsenalities. Looking for the change in the horse. watching for the foot falls, watching the horses body language (eyes, ears, tail etc) and generally seeing how someone else may do things, or what they look for. And just what might take place at a colt starting clinic. Maybe not with our own horse, but someone elses who has not prepared that horse properly.
Part two: *
This one is the continuation of the ex-racehorse that he was restarting, who didn't want to go forward, from the end of the first video. This was a good representation of alot of our horses I think, as many of us have some 'stubborn' horses. Then there was a horse in this part that made it very difficult for me to watch. I couldn't help but think that given more time, it couldn't be done differently, and what made it very difficult for me to do this review. It is a 2yo stud colt that had been allowed to get so unruly that he was seriously hurting people. I think few probably thought much of it at the time, though there were a few questions asked regarding my concernes. It reminded me of Pat and Cat, and brought up some questions for myself, and reminded me, just why it is so important to help a horse before a problem gets out of hand. The horse was basically choked down with a lasso. You could see and hear him struggle to breath, with his tongue hanging out. Some may suggest that the horse wasn't yielding to him. But my answer to that is he really didn't offer the horse much other choice. Yes he saved the life of the horse and human and the problem was solved in the end, but at what cost. Nothing forced is beautiful, and this is little more than the very thing we all ran away from....with release at the right time. Call it what ever you want.....coming thru.....but all I saw was a horse that was not given the chance to respond to a less forcefull request, so how on earth does anyone claim to propose what this horse might have done if ask nicer by a master.
It is this reason that I only give this dvd set 1star. I think a higher level student, or those that rescue, might find more value out of it, for just what a horse might be capable of, and to see higher level solutions to more difficult problems. But for the average udnergrad.....I only give it 0 stars, and advise if you do watch it, to watch with caution.
I was really hoping that I would see more ground work stuff, and not with vile unstarted horses. I am told that his "Groundwork" dvd is more what I am looking for, so it is next on the list. Also hope to attend one of his clinics coming up in april, and compare the dvd to the man.