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Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship is a true master when it comes to horses. His method for training has proven time and time again to be easy to understand and effective and something that anyone can do. This is because Clinton believes that getting horses to behave is simple; the real challenge is training people. To be able to enjoy a horse, the horse needs to be respectful and trust you. If not, things can get dangerous. Using the Clinton Anderson method, Clinton helps horsemen learn how to communicate with their horse, earn their trust and respect, and gain control of their body. It doesn’t matter what problems your horse has; with this method, you can fix it.
In this week’s episode, we’ll watch Clinton work with Melissa and her Tennessee Walker, Star, to overcome her tendency to ignore authority.
Melissa describes Star as a little wild, a horse with an attitude that needs to be trained. She recently purchased a roundpen to help with training, but finds it difficult to keep Star still during mounting and dismounting. This is a concern for her as it’s not only scary, but also dangerous. At some point, Melissa fears that either she or Star will get hurt. Clinton reminds us that this is a sign of disrespect and to fix the problem, we need to start from the ground up.
Before training begins, it’s important to understand why Star is exhibiting this behavior during mounting. In this case, it’s a classic issue of lack of respect for the owner. To fix this problem, Clinton tells Melissa that they need to go back to the source. Star seems to be using the reactive side of her brain, meaning she gets nervous and starts to fidget. Clinton aims to activate the thinking side of Star’s brain instead.
Clinton explais that in order to activate the thinking side of the brain, you need to move the horse’s feet forwards, backwards, left and right and reward the slightest try. This is the Clinton Anderson method. Clinton works on yielding Star’s hindquarters so she moves her feet and follows his motions. This let’s her know that Clinton is the one calling the shots and if she wants to move her feet, that’s fine, but it’s going to be on his terms.
Clinton moves Star around the pen and encourages her feet to move as a warm up before addressing getting in the saddle. When he’s ready to work on her mounting issue, he acts like he’s going to put his foot in the stirrup, pulls on the saddle, and makes Star think he’s going to get on. When she starts to move, Clinton follows her and keeps repeating the motion until Star stands still and relaxes. He wants her to realize that if she wants to be reactive and move her feet, that’s fine, but it’s not going to make him go away. After doing this, standing still seems like a reward to Star.
Throughout this episode, Clinton continues to repeat this exercise. When he tries to get on Star and she starts to walk off, he immediately gets down and starts moving her feet. When he approaches her again, she’s left alone so that she can begin to understand that standing still is a reward. He also stresses the idea that getting her to back up is a good practice to counter-balance her desire to move forward. While she’s standing still, Clinton gets on Star, but doesn’t make her move, then gets back off. This reinforces the idea that stillness is the best option.
Through continuing this exercise, Star learns that standing still while people get on and off is the best and easiest path to follow.
Towards the end of the episode, Clinton tells us that if he were training Star, he wouldn’t even consider riding her for a week. Instead, he’d focus on gaining her respect and trust on the ground. It takes work and commitment to get your horse trained and to gain his respect.
Clinton Anderson is dedicated to helping horsemen everywhere understand how to gain their horse’s respect. 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 Clinton’s website