Head Shy: A Fundamental Fix, Part 1

She turns, kicks, and strikes out 

Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has a method for training horses. He believes that getting horses to behave is simple; it’s training people that’s the real trick. Join him as he tackles some of the most challenging situations with problem horses and problem owners. This week, we’ll watch as Clinton works with a recipient mare who has a very bad head-shy issue. She turns, kicks, and strikes out; she’ll even run you over. Unfortunately, she’s more than just difficult, she’s dangerous.

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A recipient mare is a surrogate mother—she’s a horse that’s used to carry other mares’ foals. In a lot of cases, these mares end up as recipients because they’re no longer wanted by their owners and many of them have behavioral issues. This appears to be the case with this particular mare. However, Clinton knows that she can be trained and become easier to work around, so he wants to help her trust humans and give her a purpose. For about five days, Clinton works with this mare teaching her the basics of his method. By the end of the five days, she’s almost 85-90% over her problems, but he wants to get her to 100% perfect. That’s going to take a few more weeks to completely work out. As always, Clinton works with the mare on the ground using the Fundamentals Series exercises to make sure she’s comfortable around him. His goal is gaining her respect without fear.

Every day that Clinton works with this recipient mare you can see a huge change in her demeanor. Once he has control of her feet, he moves on to teaching her to flex her head and neck. Clinton starts each new exercise with a concept stage before moving on to what he calls the “do it now” stage. He keeps practicing this exercise with her until she immediately responds to the pressure and starts to use the thinking side of her brain instead of the reactive side. With practice and repetition, she starts to get really good at this behavior and it becomes more of an automatic behavior. Practice makes perfect, so repeating behaviors is essential during training and beyond. This helps to solidify new habits for her.

Clinton then moves on to expand the desensitizing process. He wants to make sure that she doesn’t react to any of the tools he needs to use while improving her confidence. He teaches her exercises such as Lunging for Respect Stage One and Two and works on exercises to gain better control her hindquarters.

In order for the mare to continue to make progress, Clinton needs to continually work with her and looks for her to put in more effort every day. At this point in her training, Clinton doesn’t accept a C-level performance from her anymore. If you want your horse to get better, they have to keep putting in a little more effort every single day. Remember, the goal is respect without fear to help build confidence and get your horse to use the thinking side of their brain.

A lot of horses are head shy when you move quickly around their face. They throw their heads up and act silly or defensive, but these habits can be fixed. By working the fundamentals of the Clinton Anderson training method, you’ll start to see healthy changes immediately. From there, all you have to do is stay consistent with your training and make sure to warm up your horse using groundwork.

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 were on the go or at the barn. That’s why we’ve created three 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.

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!


Master your horsemanship training through Clinton’s step-by-step method videos by joining the No Worries Club today. Becoming a club member ensures you get VIP pricing on all of Clinton’s must-have training tools and resources. Plus, you’ll enjoy all the phenomenal benefits that come with club membership!

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