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Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has a unique and impressive partnership with horses. He understands that while horses are beautiful creatures, they possess a strength that can be dangerous when things go wrong. To make sure things don’t take a turn for the worse, Clinton works with clients to help them gain their horse’s respect so they can develop a safe and healthy partnership. In fact, he believes that getting horses to behave is simple; the real trick is training people. Join Clinton weekly as he tackles some of the most challenging situations with problem horses and problem owners. In this week’s episode, Clinton helps Jasie train her horse Virgil. The trick is, Virgil is deaf and relies solely on body language for communication.
Since Virgil is deaf, Jasie has developed a number of hand signals and body language signs to help communicate with him. However, he doesn’t always seem to listen. How he behaves usually depends on his mood, and when he’s having a bad day, he doesn’t want to do much of anything. At times, Virgil will even push or nudge Jasie around and get in her space. Clinton recognizes this as a sign of disrespect that could lead to injury. He tells Jasie that when interacting with Virgil, she needs to be number 1 and Virgil needs to be number 2, every single day.
Clinton also addresses the fact that Virgil is deaf. He tells us that it isn’t really a big deal when it comes to training; gaining his respect is what’s important. To combat this, Clinton aims to teach Jasie how to be effective with her body language and groundwork skills.
He begins by showing Jasie how to make Virgil stop running her over and nudging into her. He does this by teaching Virgil to respect his space and learn how to back away from him. It doesn’t take long before Virgil starts to pay attention to Clinton’s cues and doesn’t invade his personal space.
Once Clinton has seen positive responses from Virgil, he brings Jasie in to work with Virgil so she can be coached on how to continue to train the gelding. He starts by showing her Lunging for Respect Stage 1, which involves sending Virgil in a circle so that he yields and gives her two eyes. Jasie starts by pointing up high to the left, asking Virgil to go out on the circle. Once he starts moving, she walks a small circle, shortens the rope, and whenever he starts looking outside, pulls and releases the rope to get his attention back. They repeat this exercise until Jasie starts to feel confident in her ability to control Virgil.
To ensure Virgil understands Jasie’s cues, Clinton has Jasie exaggerate her body language to keep his attention and make sure that he listens. However, Jasie struggles with keeping Virgil focused and Clinton jokes with Jasie that each time Virgil turns his nose to the outside, Jasie has to pay Clinton $20. This seems to do the trick, and as they continue the training session, the key takeaways from training start to stick. Clinton says that this is a technique he uses often as it helps to remind people that there are repercussions to their actions, especially when it comes to training your horse. When you bring money into the mix, people start to pay more attention and catch their own mistakes. That’s half of the battle when it comes to training horses—making sure their owners know what they need to do and are doing it consistently.
As the episode comes to an end, Clinton talks about how important consistency is in training. He believes if Jasie continues to work Virgil for the next 10 days, he’ll be a completely different horse. But she needs to put in the work and gain control of him to get there. If she doesn’t, Virgil will end up hurting someone and causing damage at some point or another.
Remember, gaining your horse’s respect is the only way to safely work with your horse. That’s why Clinton Anderson offers a variety of training material for both foals and horses alike. To learn more about the Clinton Anderson training method, or to get information on any of the products seen on today’s show, head over to our website!