Do You Have a Clinton Anderson Success Story? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Do You Have a Clinton Anderson Success Story?

I have just begun taking lessons with a CA Ambassador with my horse. I'm curious if anyone has used his methods with success.

After 8 days off my horse was full of it, and wanted to spook at some new trailers at the end of the arena. I worked with him on lounging state 2 and he got a little full of it but i stayed constant with him and with in 5 minutes he had regained his focus. We ended up having a fantastic ride.

What has helped you the most with your horse?
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post #2 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 03:04 PM
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How do you know your horse "wanted to spook"? Was he just cautious about the trailers and you anticipated that getting closer would cause his anxiety to spike into fight-or-flight?

You must not be getting out much if you can put time and effort into lunging him near all possible things he can encounter while working with you, so they may become familiar.

My horse spooked at a chipmunk that darted out into the road, squeaked at us, and disappeared - all within half of a second or so. I found it difficult to get off and lunge my horse around the chipmunk until he regained focus (the horse, not the chipmunk). (Note: It's not the chipmunk that's the issue, it's the surprise.) I kept on riding and worked in a few transitions, one every ten seconds or so, but as gentle as possible, so his mind could refocus on the ride. Didn't take longer than two minutes, and his head dropped, his stride lengthened, and we were ready for the next deadly surprise.

I ride another horse that just got started on the trails. He had a thing about soft ground and sticks. He's good with soft ground now, but some sticks are more dangerous than others. Some he ignores, some he makes a careful berth around, some he initially refuses to go past. Again, I would find it difficult to lunge him on a 3-feet wide forest trail around each stick/log/branch he finds intimidating. I try to find a compromise between letting him figure it out and urging him forward. It's hilarious how after 20-30 seconds of snorting, backing, and dancing, some switch flips and he just walks on as though he was just giving me a pop quiz.

So no, I can't say I've had much use for "lunging for respect (TM)" when it comes to specific objects, and I would most likely find it impractical.

Disclaimer: I have stated repeatedly that I find CA an outstanding communicator of general principles, but I wouldn't work through his "Method" like a cookbook, and I wouldn't put my trust in disciples who only studied under one master.
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post #3 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 03:32 PM
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I personally do not use the CA Method with any of my horses or my clients horses - I find it escalates WAY too quickly to be effective with horses that are more sensitive or green. I do follow the ideology of natural horsemanship in general, but prefer to look more at the methods of the Parellis, Warwick Schiller, Denny Emerson, Mark Rashid, and Monty Roberts. I do not like escalating and demanding results, I would much rather achieve them by asking and showing the horse the correct way.

I think he excessively controls and nitpicks at his horses undersaddle, especially Titan in his Youtube series. I don't see many moments where he isn't nagging Titan's mouth or spurring at his sides in that series, especially with Titan being a green horse.

I have, however, watched some of his videos on youtube that deal with aggressive horses where I could see myself applying his 'method' but other than that, I think their are better ways to accomplish what he is trying to accomplish.

Toofine - 1998 Half Arabian
Minnie - 2013 Morgan
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post #4 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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There was a large bonfire out back as well, that was still smoking. I walked into the arena and my horse is usually very calm and focused. But he raised his head and was snorting in the air. Which is very out of character for him. I dont think i anticipated him getting spooky by the gate, as its never been an issue with him (but i could have without knowing).

I completely agree! While I do ride 3-4 days a week it has always been in indoors with horse showing in mind. I have just started trying to expand his horizons as well as my own. That's why i was feeling excited when he was able to go from excited to focused very quickly. Where as before i would have lounged for 30 minutes. i'm just starting out and have a ton to learn!

It sounds like you were able to regain your horses focus by changing his thought process from the surprise to listening to your aids. Instead of giving him time to think about being scared you refocused his thoughts onto what you were asking of him. Which is so awesome! Have you have used circling working of flexion to regain focus?

I'm hoping to work up to trail riding with my guy. He has had a extremely controlled upbringing preparing for the show ring. I'm hoping to learn more tools other than lounging until the horse is tired. I completely agree while under saddle expecting to hop off an lounge wouldn't work well at all. I happened to be working on ground work that night so it aligned with my schooling plans.

Do you have any other suggestions on making the transition from a show to trail horse? I appreciate your insight!

I also agree with your statement about only focusing on one trainer. I am attempting to broaden my understanding of horses and learn other tools to help make me a better rider and owner for my horse. Any other trainers that you have found helpful with your horses?
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post #5 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 03:41 PM
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Ahhhh my mare hates surprises as well and does the distracted, excited spook thing in the arena when a fox comes out of its den (fox family at the far end past the fence). At first it was a bit scary but what was I gonna do? Get off and teach that habit that I read about on here so much o.o? At most she did a sideways jump or skitter away from it, she'd never try dump me however or rear/buck. I would pretend it never happened and just continue what I was doing even if at first it took balls of steel so to speak. She'd do it the second time and then the third and be over it completely. A week and a half ago we had some ridiculous winds and I couldn't ride. So I decided to work on "mounting". Well she was especially spooky for obvious reasons and I mean it was REALLY windy, hard to stand sort. Oh well. For half an hour we worked on her lining up at the mounting block in the middle of the arena (no mounting attempts were made for safety). She must have spooked easily 15+ times. Big jumps, lots of snorting and side-skittering. I ignored every single one of them and each spook was recovered from quicker and quicker. Every time she calmed down I praised her and continued my "program". By the end she didn't care about the howling wind or the snapping branches of the trees. I treated it like any other day. This is a horse I've learned that really needs me to show her the way. Making a scene or lunging her when she's in that mental state, for her specifically, is about the worst thing I can do. She's not that type of horse. I taught her the sniff/touch command and I always encourage her to sniff and touch strange things, with a treat and a pat after. It's made her very brave with strange objects. If that doesn't work, she's watching me. If I make a scene, even if just to "comfort", she gets upset/more wound up. Better to just ignore as if it's no big deal (I learned that from the ppl on here and it WORKS!). Lastly I take my horse out and stand on the side of the road as buses and cyclists go past while giving her treats and asking her to do some basic commands I taught (pick a leg up, touch, flex). As a bus comes past I ram a pear into her gob. I don't care about the bus, she doesn't care about the bus. The bus is just background noise now and nothing to be worried about. Try instead to be in the vicinity but not to focus on the bad things, keep trying and acting as if they are no big deal until your horse trusts and believes you. Right now it might just think that every time they are near the scary object they have to work hard. It's doubly uncomfortable and doesn't build trust imo, not on it's own or without direction at least. I can't say I know clintons method properly or what you describe but it's not how I'd personally go about it.

Applying the same principles on the trail is a whole other thing in itself (sadface) but I think it's great you can practice this in an arena first.
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post #6 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you ClearDonkey for your response! I can completely understand how things could escalate quickly and not benefit your students or horses. I am completely new to the idea of Natural horsemanship and in my area there aren't a ton of choices. I am only starting my journey and will certainly look into the trainers you recommended!

I haven't seen the Titan videos, but i certainly will not be nitpicking my horse! Maybe i will take some of the ground work techniques and review the Titan videos before going too far!

I'm not so much looking to only follow one philosophy as the "word" more so i'm looking to learn more about natural horsemanship. And if people have either found it helpful or for the birds.
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post #7 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Kalraii aren't they so funny! the silliest things sometimes are so surprising! I like that you keep things calm and steady without making an issue out of whatever the surprise was. It sounds like your mare finds a lot of relief out your claim and steady response.

Have you found since you worked on mounting on that windy day she is better each day?

I appreciate your the view point you bring! Not making a big deal if my horse is afraid and allowing him time to get use to something new, without increasing the pressure. I need to start exposing him to more and more and i agree with trying to not make he more uncomfortable when hes nervous.

Thank you so much for your help!
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post #8 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 04:03 PM
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I have not. JC who helps me out sometimes is a huge CA fan and has been to his clinics. I found with younger horses, his methods tend to cause confusion and yes, escalate things way too quickly. His methods backfired bigly when tried on Oops. But Oops needs to be taught, she's clever and smart, but truly ignorant. She's not being intentionally defiant or rude.

For her, am not a fan.

OTOH. For an older horse that's learned horrible, dangerous habits? I believe his methods can be effective.

This is a 'success story' if you will with the trailer loading method he has. JC went to a trailer clinic with a friend who had a horse named Easter (I understand Easter was a legitimate problem for even CA and made it to his newsletter/videos on his site).

JC brought that knowledge of how to work on loading home with her and tried on Sarge and Gina, even Trigger. It has worked for all of our horses but yes, it is time consuming and I would not recommend using it for every little thing they shy at.

Vids of Sarge starting out and end result below. She did yank on his head some - he was constantly paying attention to the other horses watching him, not her.

Conversely, Trigger actually scared her because someone has used the Give Two Eyes and Release of Pressure thing on him so much in the past that when you try to drive him or sssh him away, he immediately turns, squares up to you, and gives you two eyes. Intently. Head high. She took it as a threat and didn't like it. I know what he's doing and he's not squaring up to charge anyone, he's expecting an immediate release of pressure on him and once I learned that 'trick' it's been great to know because now I literally can't run him off if I'm trying. LOL

This video is the first attempt and you'll notice he's desperately trying to square up and give her two eyes, so much so he can't even make a single pass around her without trying. That's not him being defiant or lazy, that's him conditioned to immediately give two eyes - a CA thing (But also some other horsemen/trainers) - and expect immediate relief from the pressure she's putting on him.

It worked for Trigger, but you can see him visibly shaking in this final video - he gets emotionally spun out of the pressure remains on him, but I didn't intervene because he wasn't being hurt. He has behaved a lot better on loading and standing quietly in the trailer until we can be underway though.

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post #9 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ZURG327 View Post
I'm hoping to work up to trail riding with my guy. He has had a extremely controlled upbringing preparing for the show ring. I'm hoping to learn more tools other than lounging until the horse is tired. I completely agree while under saddle expecting to hop off an lounge wouldn't work well at all. I happened to be working on ground work that night so it aligned with my schooling plans.

Do you have any other suggestions on making the transition from a show to trail horse? I appreciate your insight!

I also agree with your statement about only focusing on one trainer. I am attempting to broaden my understanding of horses and learn other tools to help make me a better rider and owner for my horse. Any other trainers that you have found helpful with your horses?
The best advice I can give you is to forget on the trail that you are riding a horse for a show. This year I have been helping to ride an Arabian show horse (hunt seat) on the trail. When I started lessons with him in March, he spooked at a snow drift in the arena and he had never been on the trail before. You could say that this is the most challenging horse I've ridden, and to this day I have not taken him out for an entire ride on my own. (Twice I took the long way home solo when his trainer had to rush back to the barn.)

The woman from whom I learned trail riding said, "You are a team out there, and you have to watch out for each other!" and "Trail riding should be fun for you and the horse!"

In addition to this Arabian, I rode a number of OTTBs on the trail, and the single most important things are: Be a confident leader and don't micromanage the horse. A relaxed horse is a safe horse, and by overcorrecting and overcontrolling the horse you will prevent it from finding a place of ease, especially when it's still green and in unfamiliar terrain. That in turn means that you have to ride the horse expecting that incidences will happen while pretending that they won't.

Not micromanaging the horse is contrary to CA's style.

The Arabian's trainer told me when he saw me ride Everest for the first time at the warm-up: "People don't usually ride green horses on a loose rein." And recently he told me, "With you, he's much calmer than with [other professional at the farm], I don't know why!" Be the calm you want your horse to be, because he'll get excited enough when he starts going out there. All the lunging will not prevent him from experiencing and processing new stimuli, and excess energy is best spent on the pasture. I am very much opposed to "lunging until tired." It's really a fast way to suck the joy out of being with you for the horse.

So how would I take a greenie on the trail? Well, I have some confidence, but I'm not fearless, so my first step would be hand walking to see what I'm dealing with from the ground. Simultaneously, I'd start with really short outings (my Arabian started with outdoors cool-down walks after the arena lessons). Show him that you'll bring him home safely each time you go out.

Then build on it. Go out until you feel the tension, do a few more steps, then take him home. Before you know it, you'll be on an hourlong ride. Your horse will still spook at unfamiliar and startling things, but he will not be intimidated by distance to the farm anymore. It's one thing off his plate, out of his "cup of worry."

Furthermore, I have read that not all "make the horse move" is created equal. Movements that enhances the horse's balance (a nice long rhythmic trot) improve his mental state; movements that upsets the horse's balance (tight circles, rapid changes of direction) deteriorate it: in addition to the original stress, the horse has to deal with the stress of staying upright. Also not something CA teaches. He just makes the horse move - into submission. ("Denying oxygen privileges" is what I like to call it.)

Work your edge, work your horse's edge, the "edge" being where things are exciting but not scary. This leaves you with a margin of error for when the unforeseen happens.

Last edited by mmshiro; 08-22-2019 at 04:23 PM.
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post #10 of 30 Old 08-22-2019, 04:35 PM
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One thing I've started to learn, and try to implement , is that when a horse is spooking, you don't want to 'leave them all alone', abandoned to thrash things out on their own.

I don't mean you necessarily need to get all up in their face, although if the horse is really hard focused on something OUT there, you may need to do something IN here that brings their focus back on you. That is the basic point, that they remember that you are there, and you are not just leaving them entirely alone to sort out their fears. If your desire is to let them sort out their fears on their own, tie them somewhere near the scary things, or put them in a corral near it, but don't just stand near them watching them thrash around.

I am so totally NO expert dealing with difficult horses, so take this with a huge grain of salt. But, if the horse I am leading starts to spook and pull back on the rope, I've going to hold it, and if the horse keeps pulling, I'm going to do something with the rope to create a feel on the rope. this gives them something to mentally follow. If I did absolutely nothing , just stood rock still holding rigidly on the rope, they would likely eventually calm down, but they do not then see me as the pathway to calming.

the more you can build up yourself as the pathway to calming, the sooner your hosre will welcome and follow the directions you offer to draw them away from their fear and back to your leadership.

Sometimes, CA methods add more fuel to the fear pile, in my opinion, so the hosre see the human as the lesser of two evils (the scary thing and the commotion the human is making), but you are still one of the evils, instead of a nice place to come to.
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