Clinton Anderson: The Method


My husband and I got to attend a Clinton Anderson Clinic last weekend. It was fab-u-lous! I personally, have seen and watched many clinicians in action. This guy, is by far the best teacher, I’ve ever encountered. He speaks with clarity, and explains every move and if you don’t understand, he repeats it until you do. As he works with each horse, if an audience member has a question relative to what he’s doing, he will stop and repeat an exercise step by step, so they can understand.

I was thoroughly impressed by his willingness to help any one who wants to learn. You can tell he loves the horses and their people. What a bad mannered horse will do for him in a short time is astonishing.

As luck would have it, there was a horse he was working with, exactly like Jewels. I got fixated on his every move. The horses name was Badger. He was high-strung and pushy. Badger was hot, running around on the end of the lead rope, as if someone was chasing him from behind. Clinton explained that, if a horses speed is to fast, they don’t take time to listen for cues. That’s Jewels alright! She rushes everything. Clinton’s first order of business with Badger, was getting him out of his space.  He made a hoola-hoop circle and wouldn’t let the horse cross the line. Then, standing at a 45 degree angle to the horses shoulder, he held the lead up towards the horse’s head, stick in the other hand and drove his hind end around a few steps, wanting the horse to face him. He called that yielding the hind-quarters and giving him two eyes. It didn’t take long before the horse got it.

Next, he directed him around in a circle. The horse got faster and faster. That’s jewels! ha ha! Clinton said, that if a horse is rushing around on the end of the lead rope, change directions often. He doesn’t want them to go around more than a couple of times before you ask them to go the opposite direction. Saying the more circles the horse makes causes boredom. Another reason being, if you had to lunge a horse to tire him out by running him in circles, he just becomes fitter and you have to spend more time getting them to calm down before they’ll listen to you. What a novel idea, huh? lol  In my defense, I’ve never had a horse that wasn’t lazy! I’m for ever pecking at Jerzey to get the lead out of her ass. Well, he’s got a cure for that too!

A horse that’s lazy, once you get them to understand what they’re suppose to do, he wants them to leave quickly. If they don’t, whack’em. I don’t usually do that. I hit the ground with my whip. Jerzey got to where she would just passively redirect the circle. The correct way to do it is, set them up and if they don’t turn, whack’em on the side of the neck, making them drive off their hind end, in the direction you asked for. They swing more like a gate then. Clinton explained, there are two kinds of people who don’t know how to train horses. The first one is a barbarian, which make a horse do something. They use cruel forceful methods. Then there the ones who plead with the horse to do the right thing. I’m the latter. ha ha! I’m always afraid the horse won’t like me if I discipline them sternly. I’ve since learned, clear communication and the knowledge to direct them, is the key to understanding. I guess I’ve really always known that, but never utilized the knowledge between my ears wisely.

Jewels and I, have apparently had a lot of misunderstandings in the past, due to (my) lack of knowledge. I’ve worked with Jewels all week using the method. In just 5 short days, an hour a day, she’s become a different horse. She’s not running backwards when I push her. She doesn’t race around the round pen uncontrollably and she isn’t setting back on her ass, when I tie her up with the lead rope. I can’t even fathom what she’ll be like in 6 weeks using the method. I’m going to blog my results daily, so I can keep up with her progress.

Check out Badger! He’s learning from a master horseman.

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"It's better to ride even if you get thrown, then to wind up just wishing you had." - Chris LeDoux.
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