Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has tried and true method for training horses. It’s training the owners that poses a real problem. Join him as he tackles some of the most challenging situations with problem horses and with problem owners. This week, we’ll watch as Clinton works to show us the best way to fix a pair of horses who can’t seem to leave each other’s side.
Sometimes, you come across a pair of horses that are inseparable. No matter what you do, they can’t be without each other. While this doesn’t seem like it would be a serious problem, horses with separation anxiety can cause a lot of difficulties and it can lead to dangerous situations for both themselves and their owners. Most often, this type of bond occurs when the horses are pasture buddies who have been stalled next to each other for a few years. They create a bond that keeps them both calm when they’re together but causes problems when they’re apart. When you go to try and ride the horses, this becomes problematic as they need to stay very close to each other, which leads to dangerous situations on the trail. Luckily, you can fix a buddy-sour horse with the proper training.
Clinton tells us that to fix this separation anxiety, you need to train the horses together but allow them to rest separately. You need to work the horse in close proximity (but with individual trainers) and then give them rest and praise when they’re separated. Over time, this will have them come to see being together as work and being alone as relaxing. It’s going to take some time, as you’re fighting natural herd instincts, but it is possible to disengage them by slowly spreading them apart.
The best way to do this is to start slow and have two trainers working together. Focus on really putting them to work and then when they get to rest, have them rest apart from each other. When you do this training, after about four or five times, over the course of a few days, the horses will start to disengage. See, the more you try to separate them, the more they want to be together. But when you work them in such a close proximity, it will get them to use the thinking side of their brain and they’ll start to associate being together with having to work. Clinton compares it to using reverse psychology. Clinton and his apprentice show us how to do this by demonstrating two-horse training and resting cycles.
After a thorough training session where Clinton and his apprentice work their horses’ feet, they allow the horses to rest about 50 to 100 feet apart while giving individual praise. Slowly, they increase the distance between the two horses during rest so that the horses start to gain their own, individual confidence and stop relying on each other for comfort. The two won’t be comfortable on their own right away, but with persistence and repetitive training, they’ll eventually gain their independence and become safer to ride and interact with. During the resting periods, you just need to remember to allow your horse to completely relax so that they realize that being separated from their buddy horse equals rest and a chance to chill out. The more often you do this training, the more comfortable they’ll get.
One important caveat to remember during this training is to never let your horse rest with the other horse. This will end up reverting their training and destroying all of the hard work you’ve put in.
Clinton Anderson has developed a method to help train any horses, regardless of their problem. 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 created three new ways to get the content you need at the price you want. Our Downunder Horsemanship app gives you access to your 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 100 hours of free, in-depth training content. You can also access all of the training material through three different levels by joining our No Worries Club.