Clinic Junkies, Spectators and the Blue Bull

August 2011.  Another wonderful Buck Brannaman clinic has passed.  There were the usual contingent of clinic regulars (diehard junkies), a strong percentage of welcome new riders, and a terrific turnout of sincere spectators. 

Jodi Seaton's MinPin "Sadie" atop Bill Seaton's horse "Elka." This is a dog friendly clinic. This year, I didn't count them, but there was a pack of good natured and well mannered dogs.

Spectators came from the surrounding area (several states) and both American Coasts (California, Oregon, Washingtonand Florida) with a few delightful Canadians thrown in for fun.    It was intense learning and a social gathering, which I often refer to as a “huge party with horses and dogs.”  

 In addition to the clinic, we enjoyed a prime rib dinner with friends involved in the filming and a screening of the movie, “Buck.”  Special guests included: Betsy Shirley, Johnny France, Janice Cleverly, Film Editor Toby Shimin, Director Cindy Meehl, Brian Meehl and friend-in-tow Bobby (hereinafter recognized as “the New York charmer”).

Spectators in THEIR chairs. Evidently, the movie has raised some people's expectations. Someone called and asked me for "reserved seats" at Buck's clinic. "Reserved seats?" I responded, "Shoot, there aren't even seats. You've got to bring your own chair."




It was a joy to have Documentary Filmmaker Cindy and entourage re-join us for a clinic. Filming and Cindy’s dedication to integrity created a bond that will last our lifetime.  For Editor Toby, it was the “real deal,” her first chance to see us in person after watching us all on film for hours on end.  When I asked Toby about the live experience, she joked, “I miss the music.”   Me, too.  That evocative music will be in my brain, forever.  

Editor Toby Shimin, Brian (Mr.) Meehl and the witty Britt Long (best one-liner in the movie).


 As a testiment to our good taste, Craig had Tee-shirts made for those involved in the documentary.  These Tee shirts were based on an incident at Sundance, when Buck was standing next to the movie poster (giant photo of Buck) and a clueless movie goer asked him, “Have you seen the movie, “Buck?”  To which Buck simply replied, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I have.”     Hence, the tee shirt… front side:  Have you seen “Buck,” the movie?”   Back side: Seen it. Hell, I am Buck!

Director Cindy Meehl modeling her commemorative Tee-shirt. Have you seen, "Buck," the movie?Cindy's tee shirt, back side: Seen it. Hell! I made it.


Cindy's tee shirt, back side: Seen it. Hell! I made it.










There were also many emotional moments.   At dinner, Johnny France gave a toast acknowledging his own debt to foster mother Betsy Shirley.  After the movie screening, Buck expressed his love for the people in his life and thanked Johnny, Betsy and Coach Cleverly’s widow Janice for saving his life.   Not a dry eye in the house.

Johnny France, retired Madison County Sheriff giving a toast to Foster Mother Betsy Shirley. Johnny was Betsy's first foster son and Buck was her last. Life can be a circle.

 The clinic itself was terrific.   I learned a lot (as usual) and my horses made break throughs (as usual), because I made some comprehension break throughs.

My dressage mare Jemima and me cross dressing. Western hat, English breeches, dressage saddle and hackamore. Works for me.

The spectators got a special thrill when the Big Blue, Longhorn Bull decided to check out the surroundings. Jumping two fences, the bull ended up in the seating area. People started scrambling, until Buck quietly announced, “Leave him alone, he’s fine.”  Big Blue wandered around the people and chairs, around the indoor arena, over to the other side of the outdoor arena, where he jumped the fence to get back inside the arena.  Rather amazing to watch all that blue tonnage heft itself over a five foot fence. Chaulk it up to one of those “Western” life experiences.

Big Blue exchanges looks with a couple of calm spectators.

Working with Longhorns has a physical and audible harmony.  Horned animals demand respect from riders and each other.  They don’t hurt one another, they respect each other’s space.  Riders have to respect those horns, too.  The sound of horns touching (clacking) is soothing, somehow.  Buck and I agreed, it has a pleasant, musical sound.  

The weather was perfect, the people a joy, the horses comforted by their riders, who all improved.  Being Buck’s sponsor is an honor and a blessing. 

For more information on “Buck” the movie, go to


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *