Colt Starting Clinic: Getting Horses to Walk, Trot and Canter

For the past 20 years, Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has devoted his life to creating the best training tools and videos to help bring his method to you. Join him on his weekly endeavors of tackling some of the most challenging situations with problem horses, and problem owners. This week, Professional Clinician Jeff Davis gives us a preview of one of his No Worries Club lessons during the Colt Starting Clinic.

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This episode picks up after the first ride for the horses in the Colt Starting Clinic. On the second ride, participants will continue to work in the roundpen with the help of a flagger on the ground. Then, they’ll gradually take over more control, so they’re cuing their colt and the flagger is participating less. By the third ride, they’ll be in the arena riding in a group.

The main focus of these next two rides will be mostly on getting the horses to move out at a walk, trot, and canter. They’re still inexperienced and unpredictable horses, so it’s important to remember that anything can happen—especially when Mother Nature gets involved.

The horses in this Colt Starting Clinic have already learned several Fundamentals exercises that have focused on both sensitizing and desensitizing. In this episode, nothing new will be added, but rather it will act as a review of things that have already been done. Clinton believes this type of repetition is key to training horses, as it helps them use the thinking side of their brain and will make the second and third ride much safer.

Jeff explains that they will do two rides in one day to help get them as prepared as possible during the short 11-day clinic. At this rate, they’ll get about 10 to 14 rides by the end of the 11th day, which is great for teaching and learning.

Although the horses’ first rides of the clinic were done by Jeff’s assistants, the second ride will give participants a chance to ride their horses. To get the participants prepared, Jeff gathered everyone around the roundpen and worked with one participant and his horse in a demonstration. They went over all the steps you need to take to ensure that the ride goes well—this includes preparing the colt in the roundpen and making sure the horse is using the thinking side of his brain before getting in the saddle.

Now, there’s a fine line to this as Jeff and his team want to be able to help the rider if something happens while still letting them take over a bit more control of their horses. This is why they do the demonstration first. They’re able to provide tips and feedback to help make sure the entire situation goes smoothly and to make sure the colts aren’t acting up or doing anything dangerous. Before participants get in the saddle, they want to ensure that their horses are calm, tuned in to them and using the thinking side of their brain.

To get the colts in this frame of mind, the participants spend ample time warming them up with groundwork. The key is looking out for those “oh, no” spots and learning what your horse reacts to and when. This gives you more information on how to focus your training and what desensitizing may need to be done in order for a safe ride. Throughout this process, you should expect to poke some buttons and see if you get any kind of response that’s negative. This can help you target your future lessons and make the entire riding process safer. Remember, experience is the best teacher, so don’t be afraid to test the waters. If you find your horse is reactive, don’t worry. That’s just what young horses do when they’re inexperienced and you don’t really know what’s going to surprise them or what’s going to get them a little bothered. So, you just have to keep looking around until eventually, you’ve exhausted all the areas where they might get worried…and they’re just not worried anymore. That’s the key to making sure your rides are safe, whether it’s your first ride or your hundredth.

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

No Worries by Clinton Anderson

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