Bring out the best in your horse's behavior with these tips and a handy piece of training equipment.
Do you like to get a massage when you’re stressed? Well, for your horse, a sure-fire stress buster is groundwork, which cures many a behavior problem. Here, one of today’s famous horse trainers, Clinton Anderson, gives training lessons in desensitizing your horse, and shows us a piece of training equipment no horse owner should be without.
Enjoy your horse,
Clinton Anderson: De-Spook, De-Stress, Desensitize Your Horse
By Clinton Anderson with J. Forsberg Meyer
Photos by Kevin McGowan
Do you want a horse that’s calm, focused, responsive and obedient? Of course you do; everyone does. With this lesson, you’ll begin to learn the essential groundwork and training methods that will teach your horse to show that behavior for you–consistently. The exercises I’ll present here are the same ones I use to start colts, reform bad actors and keep nice, broke horses nice and broke.
They’re also what my student Renee Humphries uses to keep her Appaloosa gelding, Sammy, safe and fun to be around. Sammy is a perfect example of why you must be consistent in your groundwork training methods. When you are, your horse remains consistently good for you. When you slack off, so does he, and so does his behavior.
Groundwork works because it sets you up as your horse’s leader, teaching him to trust and respect you with a minimum of training equipment. It also activates the thinking (as opposed to the reacting) part of his brain. My groundwork includes both sensitizing (where you train your horse to move away from pressure) and desensitizing (where you teach him to relax and accept pressure calmly).
Renee will demonstrate how she keeps Sammy desensitized to her training equipment–her lead rope and training stick—by rubbing and/or flinging them over his body and slapping the stick on the ground.
To learn more from top trainer Clinton Anderson, download our
FREE guide—Clinton Anderson’s Ground Work: Tried and True Horse Training Methods.
I’ll explain what’s happening at each step of the training lessons and Renee will share her insights, as well.
To Get the Most from these Training Lessons:
- Outfit your horse in a rope halter with a 14-foot lead. I prefer my own halters, which have extra knots on the noseband for improved responsiveness, but any stiff rope halter will do.
- Grab your training stick. If you don’t have one, make one using a sturdy, 4-foot-long stick with a 6-foot-long detachable rope string. Or use a dressage whip.
- Work with your horse several times a week–ideally on consecutive days to speed his learning–in an enclosed area with safe fencing and good footing. Remain calm and patient at all times, and work both sides equally.