Turn a Spook into a Training Opportunity

Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has developed an effective method for training horses. It’s training the owners that poses a real problem. Join him as he tackles some of the most challenging situations with problem horses and with problem owners. This week, Clinton explains how horsemen everywhere can turn a spook on the trail into a great training opportunity.

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Some horses spook easily—it’s part of their nature. It’s how you respond to those instances that will determine how your horse acts in the future. Clinton tells us that regardless of what he’s doing, he’s always on the lookout for things that could potentially cause alarm in his horse. When he’s going down the trail, if there’s something that your horse spooks at, instead of avoiding it, use it to your advantage. Everything becomes a training opportunity when it’s handled the right way. Do the same thing if your horse comes across something that they shy away from.

For example, say there’s a big boulder up ahead on the trail. While it’s just a boulder, a lot of horses seem to get spooked by something like this. Clinton is riding his horse Goose, and says that as they approach the boulder, he sees Goose staring at it and starting to get nervous about it. Rather than giving into Goose’s uneasiness, Clinton uses the boulder as a makeshift fence to roll back into. Clinton trots the gelding in a circle in front of the boulder and then turns back into it. He acts as if he were in the arena practicing rollbacks.

The trick is learning to use whatever your horse is frightened of as a training opportunity. When your horse is reacting or frightened, you want to take his nervous energy and direct it in a constructive manner.  As Clinton works with Goose in front of the boulder, loping circles and rolling back into it, Goose slowly begins to realize that the boulder isn’t as scary as he thought. Eventually, Goose stops looking at the boulder and ignores it completely. Depending on your horse, it could take one to two minutes, five minutes, or even 10 minutes to build his confidence in the spooky object. The key is to stay there and keep hustling his feet and redirecting him until he’s tuned in to you and no longer worried about the object. Once you can tell that whatever was spooking your horse is no longer on his mind, you can continue down the trail.

Clinton explains that the boulder example is only one application of this approach. You can use anything that spooks your horse to train them in the same manner. To get the most out of this exercise, always be on the lookout for opportunities around you. Use your imagination. Even a small rock on the ground can be a chance to get in some extra training. Start trotting some circles around it and moving the horse’s feet. See a log on the ground that gets your horse’s attention? use the same exercise. Clinton calls this technique training on the trail, and it gives your horse a reason to engage with you. Trot around the object that’s causing your horse to get tight and nervous, then once you can tell it’s not bothering your horse anymore, continue business as usual.

Clinton Anderson has spent the past 20 years of his life devoting his time to creating the best training tools and videos available to horsemen all over the world. Unfortunately, you can’t bring your TV into the arena to watch videos. That’s why Clinton and his team have been hard at work developing a platform to deliver the training in a whole new way, a way that brings 20 years of horsemanship and puts it in the palm of your hand. Now, you can access the mobile method and get everything at the touch of a finger.

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 access all the training material through three different levels by joining our No Worries Club.

When you become a No Worries Club member, you get up to a 50% discount on any of your purchases. Plus, you get eight digital videos and four digital journals a year, and access to the No Worries Club website—the largest collection of method material and resources in the world. With the No Worries Club, you can be assured you’re going to get exactly what you need at a price that’s right for you. It’s a free download. So, what are you waiting for, mate? Get started today.

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!

No Worries by Clinton Anderson

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