Monday, May 9, 2011

Clinton Anderson Walkabout Tour

Mother’s Day weekend was spent with Nancy and her daughter and Clinton Anderson.  OK – we weren’t actually WITH Clinton, but we did spend the weekend at his clinic!

We’ve been to Clinton Anderson's Downunder Horsemanship Clinic before and really enjoyed it, so it was an easy thing to plan.  And we had complimentary tickets which made it that much better.

Rancho Murieta is about 45 minutes from our house and we wanted to be there by 8:15am Saturday.   We were right on schedule, leaving the house at 7:30am.  We exchanged our certificate for our tickets and picked seats in the front row behind the walkway.  Not a great choice, since people walked in front of us all the time, but we were up close.  After the break we moved back a couple rows and had a good view and after lunch we moved up to the top row because I thought it might be nice to have a back rest (they were bleachers).  Turns out the backrest is overrated – having a bar in the middle of your back isn’t restful.  On our second day we sat in a different section, pretty much in the middle rows.  I think we actually did really well for seating, getting multiple views and angles throughout the weekend.

The clinic itself was good.  If you’ve ever watched his TV programs you know what he teaches.  One of the things I really like about him is that he doesn’t have a ton of “gimmicks” that you "absolutely can’t train without."  He does have things to sell, of course (who doesn't), but really you can do what he teaches with the tools you have at the barn already.  His basic tools are a rope halter, a “stick” – a 4 foot pole with a detachable 6 foot rope (The idea being that you can extend your reach 10 feet total which is a nice safe distance to be at when you’re working horses) and your body language.

Since Blu is new to me, and I’m new to having a young horse I am very happy that I went and refreshed my memory of the method.  It’ll take a lot of practice to get it right, but I do want to work at making sure Blu respects me.  It will make life much easier in the long run.

It was really brought home to me on the second day of the clinic when they brought in a 4 year old gelding for the “desensitizing to spooky objects” session and instead of working a horse with spooky objects the session was spent on groundwork to teach the horse respect for humans.  He had zero respect.  And from the seats we had at that time we got a good preview of the issues watching the owner try to hold onto the rearing, bolting horse that was waiting in the wings to go into the arena.  It was such a “pre-show” that Clinton was in the arena asking where the horse was after a couple minutes.  He was told it wouldn’t enter the arena.  He had to go outside and coach one of his apprentices (who had earlier taken the horse from the owner to keep it from getting away or injuring the owner I assume) to get the horse to even come inside!  For the actual session we got to watch Clinton work with his apprentice who was working the horse in front of 2000 people (much to her dismay, I’m sure.)  but after about 10 minutes he took over (I think the woman was exhausted) and he spent 45 minutes getting the horse to a point where he wasn’t bolting all over the place.  And he hadn't even gotten to the owner introduction until after the apprentice brought the horse back out of the arena.  That’s a long explanation – but it showed me that a young horse that isn’t well socialized from birth could be a handful (putting it nicely) and that I had once again a good demo of how I lucked out with Blu. 

He doesn’t have any of those issues (thank goodness) and I want to keep it that way!

Clinton is such a nice guy that he stopped to take a photo while he was rushing between sessions.

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