Each week as I review another trainer that I’ve learned from or been inspired by, I think back through the 10 years or so of personal experience and think of the biggest changes I’ve made in my own system of training horses. Most of the time it was when I hit an obstacle in training that I couldn’t work through with a horse. Not only physical obstacles but psychological ones as well. The obstacle that led me to Clinton Anderson’s method was inconsistency. This problem is at the fore front of most problem horses and also starting young colts under saddle. My results were hit or miss, sometimes I could connect with a horse and the things we worked on would help solve the problem and it wouldn’t come back but most of the time I would become very frustrated and try to invent my own ways of trying to solve the problems. Both of these would never result in the outcome I wanted and then the mess would ultimately become worse. Does this sound familiar?
This problem was the same problem that Clinton Anderson faced as a young polo player growing up in Australia. Searching for solutions he found two mentors that would give him all the information and answer all his questions he ever had. Gordon McKinlay shaped the basics horsemanship and fundamentals of Clinton’s, Downunder Horsemanship, that we know today. Ian Francis later influenced the finishing and advanced horsemanship that honed Clinton’s showmanship and performance horse training. He apprenticed under both these Australian Legends through his teens and went on to start his own training career in Australia and later moved to the USA where he started Downunder Horsemanship and one of the most successful RFD TV Shows that launched him into the spotlight. He was the first trainer to win The Road to the Horse 2 times, this iconic event has become the centerpiece for many great trainers. This also established his name in colt starting and fundamental Horsemanship that has made his method famous for being easy to understand and simple to follow for everyday horse owners.
Clinton’s personality and no nonsense approach to horses and their problem people has become the biggest part of his success and also made him and his method iconic. This is the part that affected me the most about his method, he always had a clear answer to all problems and obstacles when working with horses. His simple Eight Steps to Success give the trainer every possible variable to achieve the same great outcome, soft responsive horses built on respect and trust. Consistency with this method pushed my limitations far beyond what I ever imagined and sticking to the steps in order made my training predictable. I owe most of my growth in training to this man and his method and he still inspires my work. He has made it very clear for the horse to be successful ‘he must have many hours of long rides, wet saddle pads and concentrated training’. If ever I stop getting results, I always go back to that quote and usually within a day or two I get incredible changes in my horses.
Clinton has put his method into DVD sets that are easy to follow and handy ‘arena mates’ booklets to refer to in the field. He also has several books, the one that I still refer to the most is his first book, Establishing Respect and Control for English and Western Riders, outlines all his exercises both on the ground and riding. This was the second horse related book I ever bought and I used it throughout my teens starting colts. I’ve gone to several of his clinics and still have the notes I wrote down from the first clinic I attended. Seeing him first hand is an experience that I won’t soon forget. His charisma and humor have stamped their mark on my approach to my own horse and people problems that I deal with each day.
This was one of the first horses I trained for compensation when I was 16 yrs. old.