Over the years, Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has developed a method for training horses regardless of their age, history, or any behavioral issues and past traumas. Join him on his weekly endeavors of tackling some of the most challenging situations with problem horses, and problem owners. This week, we watch as Clinton works with a group of No Worries Club members in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Clinton’s goal of this episode is to get the group outside of the arena so they can train their horses on the trail. However, before doing this, it’s important to make sure all horses and riders are up to the challenge. During this installment, Clinton tests the group’s skills under saddle and shows us the minimum riding exercise to make sure that when you leave the arena, you’re safe, in control, and have your horse’s respect—the necessary ingredients for a great trail ride.
The group begins in the arena with a mixture of emotions across the faces of the horsemen. To make sure that everyone warms their horse up correctly, Clinton tells them that he wants them to focus on their horse and pretend they’re the only one in the arena. He says that if they can’t handle riding in a group, then they have no business going outside the arena on the trail with all of the potential distractions and dangers. This is the first test and if his riders can’t handle it, they’re not going to be able to handle the rest.
The first exercise he asks the group to do is One Rein Stops. He reminds everyone to put their horses on a loose rein and let the horses go wherever they want—do not steer them. After letting the horses go forward a few strides, he instructs the riders to sit back in the saddle, slide their hands down one rein and pull the rein up to their hips. They hold the reins at their hips until their horses comes to a complete stop and softens to the pressure. As soon as the horses do that, the riders drop the reins and release the pressure. Getting a handle on this exercise is essential as it could save your life on the trail. After practicing the exercise at the walk, Clinton has the group accelerate into a trot and continue practicing the stop.
Next, Clinton has everyone lope off. The group performs One Rein Stops at the lope—stopping the horses every three to five strides. It is very important that you can the exercise at all three gaits because it indicates that you have good control of your horse and that your horse respects you enough to continue listening. Clinton continues to have his riders practice the exercise, mixing it up so that they sometimes ask the horse to trot off and do a One Rein Stop and other times lope off and do a One Rein Stop. While this seems redundant, making sure that you can get your horse to stop is one of the best ways to ensure that you, your horse, and all of the riders around you are safe and out of danger. When one horse spooks, it can create chaos that leads to injury if you’re not able to quickly get the situation under control.
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