How to Avoid Creating a Barn Sour Horse

Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has developed an effective method to train horses, regardless of their age, history, or any behavioral issues and past traumas. Join him on his weekly endeavors of tackling some of the most challenging situations with problem horses, and with problem owners. This week we’ll watch as Clinton shows us how to avoid creating a barn sour horse.

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Clinton begins this episode by telling us that one of the biggest mistakes people make with their horses is bringing them immediately back to the barn after a ride. If you go on a training trail ride, as Clinton calls it, and get off the horse as soon as you get back to the barn, saddle them up, and put them away, it’s going to create a problem. When you do this, you facilitate your horse in developing a degree of comfort and connection to the barn. Over time, your horse wants to go back into the barn because they’re comfortable there and they know the barn is a place that they can relax and avoid working. This problem can get so bad that your horse may not even want to leave the barn at all. It becomes a circular issue—the more you try to make a barn sour horse leave, the more he fights to stay.

Rather than waiting until your horse develops this problem to fix it, be proactive with how you end your rides. Every time you get back to the barn or wherever your horse technically “lives,” give him five to 10 minutes of a job to do. Make him work before you put him back in the barn. You can do circles, serpentines, rollbacks, spins, anything. What you do doesn’t matter so much as the act of doing it in general. This teaches your horse that just because he’s home, doesn’t mean it’s time for him to relax right away. If you avoid unsaddling your horse straight away, you’ll avoid creating a barn sour horse.

Clinton reiterates that these five to 10 minutes of training are essential to avoiding this problem. After you’ve had your horse do the work, then you can get off of them, unsaddle them, hose them off, and ease into the barn. Clinton tells us that to strengthen the reinforcement and avoid barn sour incidents, he ties his horse up for a couple of hours. He does this on what he calls his “tree and post of knowledge.” This gives them a little time to think and avoids creating patterns that your horse begins to anticipate. Plus, when you tie a horse up for two or three hours after a training session, you’d be amazed how they retain the information. They also seem to become more respectful because they’re humbled by this action. It shows them who is really in charge.

The absolute worst thing that you can do is to unsaddle your horse, put him in the barn, and feed him immediately after a ride. When you do this, pretty soon the horse is going to anticipate this behavior and try to get back to the barn earlier so that he can be fed and relax. There are a lot of people that wonder why or when they’ve taught their horse bad habits, and this is exactly that moment.

The way that you do this might not be exactly as Clinton describes, because your ability to do some footwork and tie them up before taking them home can vary based on where you live or how much room you have, so be creative. You don’t have to be galloping around a lope or in a training circle. Instead, just give your horse jobs to do and finish with him engaged on you and thinking about you as opposed to finishing with him thinking about his food and the barn.

Clinton Anderson has developed a method to help train any horses, regardless of their problem. It doesn’t matter your what your experience level is, if you follow the Downunder Horsemanship Method, you’re going to see results. Unfortunately, up until now it was nearly impossible to access the method when you’re on the go or at the barn. That’s why we’ve developed the Downunder Horsemanship app, which gives you access to digital training kits and allows you to download videos and training content directly to your mobile device or view them on your computer. The Downunder Horsemanship app also offers over 86 hours of free, in-depth training content. You can access all the training material through three different levels by joining our No Worries Club.

To learn more about the Clinton Anderson training method, become a member of the No Worries Club, or to get information on any of the products seen on our show, head over to our homepage and download the Downunder Horsemanship app today!


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