Training Tip: Move Your Horse’s Feet in the Saddle Bay

Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has developed a way to train horses, regardless of their past problems or traumas. It all begins with training the owners to gain their horse’s respect and understand how to properly control them. Join Clinton on his weekly endeavors of tackling some of the most challenging situations with problem horses and problem owners. This week, we watch as Clinton shows us a training tip on how to move your horse’s feet in the saddle bay.

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Clinton begins the episode by demonstrating the process of backing his horse into the saddle bay. Once he reaches his destination, he ties his horse up using a tie ring. When it comes to tying horses up, Clinton prefers to use the Aussie Tie Ring. He is not a fan of using cross ties because if the horse gets startled or for some reasons reacts and jumps forward or backward when cross tied, he can potentially get injured and even flip over. So if you use cross ties, you must be careful.

So, how do you gain a horse’s respect, even after they’ve developed some bad habits? By moving their feet forwards, backwards, left, and right. Every single time you make your horse move his feet around you rather than you moving your feet around him, you’re earning his respect. So every time you need to change which side of your horse you’re on, ask him to move out of your personal space, not the other way around. In doing so, you’ll gain more respect and help instill good habits.

Clinton then demonstrates what he means with his horse. He says if you want to change sides, you’ll just move the horse over by gently touching his forequarters and hip, using light pressure with your fingertips. If your horse is well trained, he’ll respond to the pressure and move over with no resistance. He then repeats this to demonstrate how effective it is. Every time Clinton changes sides, he’s not walking around the horse. Instead, he asks the horse move away from him. It’s a simple yet practical learning experience that all horsemen can benefit from. Every single time that you move your horse’s feet, you’ll gain more respect, so try to do it as much as possible.

This includes when you saddle your horse and have to change sides. Clinton repeats, “Every time you get to change sides, you gain a little more respect.” He likes to make a little bit of a game out of it. He never ducks underneath his horse’s neck. Instead, he always goes around the back of them and just moves them from side to side. Clinton reminds us that his horses already know the Fundamentals level of the Method and are already respectful because they’ve gone through his training program. When you have a brand new horse that doesn’t know the Method and is pushy and disrespectful, the last place you want to try to train them is in a tight, narrow, claustrophobic place like a saddle bay. Why? Because if the horse goes to kick you or do something silly, you’ll be in danger. Instead, you need to go to the roundpen or an arena—another safe, controlled environment—and work on the Fundamentals. Once you’ve taught your horse the groundwork exercises in the Fundamentals Series, then this “game” Clinton is demonstrating can be part of your normal, daily interaction.

Incorporating ideas like this as you’re working with your horse is how you maintain his respect. Clinton says to look at respect like a muscle. If you don’t use it every day, you’ll lose it. The horse respects Clinton, but if every day he moves around him rather than making the horse’s feet move forward, backward, left, and right, every day the horse will just get a little bit more disrespectful. Then, he might try to nip, then he might try to kick, and it just snowballs into bigger issues. Horses don’t misbehave out of the blue. If your horse just up and kicks you, he’s been telling you for months that he’s going to kick you, but you haven’t been reading the signs enough. Remember, horses will be great followers if you are a great leader. Never forget that. Be a great leader, and they’ll be a great follower.

Clinton Anderson has devoted over 20 years to creating the best training tools and videos available to horsemen worldwide. To learn more about the Downunder Horsemanship training method or become a member of the No Worries Club, download the Downunder Horsemanship app today!

No Worries by Clinton Anderson

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