OneSkater had the incredible opportunity to spend a few days in Ojai, CA with five gents from Homeboy Industries and our friend and Teacher, Buck Brannaman.
Buck is one of the finest horsemen on the Planet _ and even though his teachings are centered around ‘the horse’, his message never fails to hit most of the ‘humans’ at his clinics on a very deep and personal level. I know many people who’s lives have changed as the result of watching or participating at his clinics – so OneSkater thought this would be an ideal introduction: Homeboys, Horses and Buck. And it was.
We met on the first morning way up in the canyons of Ojai, we were a pretty colorful bunch as we walked up to the arena where the clinic was taking place. We didn’t exactly look like cowboys or cowgirls, ‘cept it’s always a great way to get a front row seat – cause people aren’t exactly sure who or where we’re from, and ‘Why?’ exactly are we at a horsemanship clinic. But this is also a wonderful thing that happens when one extends themselves to a certain ‘un known’. When a mystery or a particular fear can be lifted from any given situation, or specifically a certain group or type of people, community or we should say, communion always grows_ and so started the day.
To have these gents travel so far from what is home and to have the folks at the clinic be in such close proximity to a group of people that they had probably little understanding of except what they had read in the papers and had learned to either fear, mistrust or dislike or all of the above created a particularly rich pallette from where we began.
Most people come to Buck’s clinics for help, support and direction – and generally the riders can be split up in to the usual groups: some of whom listen to Buck’s words and then quietly get to work, those that are there, it seems to prove to themselves that the work is too hard and that they just aren’t up to it, those that want to lean on someone else’s work hoping that it will somehow rub off on them just by being there, those that are full of fear and looking for a way through it, and those that seem to feel that they deserve special attention. Sounds like your average kinda group scenario, ‘cept here, we are all focused on one thing: the relationship between the horse and the rider, where it works better, feels softer and with a greater understanding of this living partnership.
In the clinic, there was a gal that was ridng an ex-racehorse. The horse seemed to be a little bit too much for her, nothing ‘bad’, just a little squirty, just a little fast – but again, let’s remember, she picked the horse – the horse probably didn’t pick her. As the morning went on and the horse became more and more tense about his unfamiliar surroundings – he got a little more squirty, a little faster – and the rider became more and more panicked, clamped down on the horse harder and harder and everything just got progressively worse – for both of them. So at one point, the usual point, we hear the rider call out, “Help me, help me,” and in comes Buck _ long story short: had she taken the time to send her horse some, or any message of comfort rather than doing the exact opposite – which basically was to punish him cause she was too nervous to do anything else,, things might go differently. She then wondered outloud in front of the clinic, if the horse could in fact be helped or maybe she should just give it away or put it out to pasture somewhere.
This pretty much sent a common thread ringing through the gents from Homeboy, most of whom have lived a life of TOTAL abandonment, often making some wrong choices, as did that horse out of fear - where if not in the right supportive hands, those choices perpetuate and, well, it never has a happy ending for horse or human. We have all been there, done that to a greater or lesser degree.
Lunch was filled with big conversations and processing of what had happened in the arena that morning _ for all of us. Meanwhile we failed to mention that Buck had another rider work with the ‘race hose’ and as always, what happens at these clinics, the horse started to make 180 degree changes in a very short amount of time. We watched that little horse get softer and lighter and more comfortable as his new rider simply offered him comfort, support and a clear direction.
For the rest of our trip, the Homeboys kept talking about how such a troubled horse could make such dramatic changes with just a few adjustments and how could anyone give up on something so beautiful and so naive just because it didn’t know the way ..
Thank you Buck, thank you Boys, thank you Father Greg for never giving up.
We are honored.
Spread The Love, Everywhere.
Buck Brannaman’s Award Winning Documentary.