A thousand words beyond the Hill

James Branaman

“A lot of people call the way I break a horse like a ‘whisperer,’ but I don’t call it that, I just call it love and tender care.”

A few miles outside of Cave City, past a house turned into a barn, in what used to be called Whiskey Hollow, Mitchell Bunnell is talking to a horse. Bunnell lives on Lee Malden’s farm where he trains Malden’s horses. His style differs from that of many trainers.

“A lot of people are rough with horses . and mean to them, beat them. I don’t do that.”

With a gruff country accent, wearing a sleeveless shirt, Bunnell is stout and rugged. But his appearance doesn’t match his character. He often talks to a horse as if it were a baby, more like it was his own child, caressing and kissing it on the nose.

Bunnell comes from a long line of horsemen. He was taught as a child by his father and has been caring for horses since. Even though he sometimes gets hurt, Bunnell says the horses do not do it intentionally. He has broken ribs, an arm, leg, hand, had four concussions, and “too many knots and bruises to count.”

Bunnell loves the craft.

“Anytime you take something from the wild and make it calm, make it beautiful . to make it where you can enjoy them, it’s worth it.”