Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has devoted the past 20 years to creating the best training tools and videos available to help bring his method to you. With a little persistency, his methods can get any aggressive or disrespectful horse to behave. His training is unlike others because it starts with training the owner. The Clinton Anderson method is a fundamental method that many horse owners need in order to communicate more effectively with their horses. Clinton teaches people how to gain their horse’s trust and respect, while ultimately learning how to keep them under control. This week, we watch as Clinton shows us how to teach your horse to cross water.
Sooner or later, you and your horse are going to run into some water either on the trail or around your own property. When this happens for the first time, it’s important not to make your horse feel like you want him to go in the water, because the more you say to get in the water, the less he’ll want to go. Even just a puddle can be intimidating when a horse crosses it for the first time, which is why training is so important.
Find a puddle to work with or you can easily make one yourself by letting the hose run for a bit in the arena or on a dirt path. Then, establish a starting point – a place where your horse is comfortable being next to the puddle – that may be 10 or 15 feet away from it. Keep in mind that how far away you start from the puddle will depend on how scared your horse is of it. If he’s really frightened of water, you may even have to start 50 feet away from it.
Once you’ve established your starting point, begin to trot a circle around the puddle, being sure to keep your horse’s feet moving with energy. Every one-and-a-half circles, turn your horse 180 degrees in toward the puddle and circle around the puddle in the opposite direction. Eventually, as you circle the puddle and roll back into it, the horse will get lazier and stop putting in as much effort, which will cause him to get closer and closer to the puddle until one of his hooves steps in the water. Every time the horse encounter a small step in the water he realizes that it won’t hurt him, which helps to build up his confidence.
The next time you turn him, he might take two steps into the puddle, but he doesn’t have to panic because you’ll turn him right back out of the water again. Go around the other way. Then turn again. Now he takes three steps into the water. Eventually, he’ll get a little lazier so that when you turn, instead of doing a stop and a rollback, he’ll actually cut through the center of the puddle. It might be a slow process, but it works. Eventually your horse will have the confidence it takes to accept the water.
The key here is to not rush your horse. Let him take a drink from the water, play in the water, and get comfortable with it—just don’t let them lay down in the water.
Once your horse is moving calmly through the water, let him stop and investigate it. If he wants to paw or drink from it, let him. Allowing your horse to perform his own “safety check” is a great way to build his confidence. Every time the water touches him and he doesn’t get hurt, he gains more confidence. Once he’s performed his safety check, continue to ask him to cross in and out of the water at the walk until he’s relaxed and confident. You may have to cross in and out of the water 10 times, or you may have to do it 100 times. Do whatever it takes to build the horse’s confidence.
When you’re on the trail, if you come to a water crossing in which there is no room to circle your horse around the water and roll him back into it, use Approach and Retreat. Encourage your horse to approach the water as close as he will get to it without having to be forced. At whatever point that is, stop him and then back him away from the water. Continue to approach and retreat, encouraging the horse to get a bit closer to the water with each approach.
When your horse eventually steps in the water with a front foot, don’t push him any farther; instead, retreat. Back him out of the water. Next time you ride him up to the water, he’ll put both of his front feet in the water, and you’ll back him out of it. With repetition, the horse will calmly walk through the water.
The key is to introduce water crossings to your horse in a controlled environment and start by using a shallow puddle and gradually work your way up to building his confidence to cross through bigger bodies of water. It will take time and patience to build your horse’s confidence, but doing so will ensure he’s able to conquer much larger obstacles down the road.
Using the Clinton Anderson method is the key to getting the most out of your partnership with your horse. That’s why we’ve created three ways to get the content you need, at the price you want. You can now access all of the training material at three different levels and download them straight to your device. Our basic level allows you to purchase and download training content to your phone or tablet at our standard prices with no annual fee. Our No Worries Club membership offers low monthly prices with 50% discounts on all purchases plus 8 digital videos per year, 4 digital journals per year, and access to the No Worries Club website all for $19.99 a month. For the ultimate experience, opt for a premium membership and you’ll get access to all of the benefits of the No Worries Club plus thousands of dollars of horse training delivered right to your fingertips. Plus, with our new Mobile Method, you’ll get maximum results in minimal time.
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