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Clinton Anderson’s Ground Work: Tried and True Horse Training Methods

Download your FREE Clinton Anderson report from MyHorse Daily and learn how Downunder Horsemanship ground work can improve your horse’s respect and responsiveness.

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MyHorse Daily Freemium Clinton Anderson's Ground WorkIn this FREE guide you'll get the best training tips from top trainer/clinician Clinton Anderson. Clear step-by-step photos show you the right and wrong way for yielding the hindquarters, yielding the forequarters, backing up & more. Learn how to fix the cause, and not just the symptoms of your horse "problems."

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MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

Redemption for an uncooperative mare arrived in the unexpected form of a natural horsemanship training gift to the mare’s owner: Free tickets to a Downunder Horsemanship clinic featuring Clinton Anderson.

The owner, Anne, circled the Downunder Horsemanship date on her calendar, packed up her daughter to go along and drove an hour away to the Clinton Anderson horsemanship clinic, held in Fort Collins, Colo.

From the moment she saw horse trainer Clinton Anderson step into the arena with his mare, Mindy, Anne says she was hooked on the idea of natural horsemanship. Mindy was sweet and responsive—and from the way she interacted with Clinton Anderson, she clearly had total respect for the horseman.

Clinton Anderson

Clinton Anderson. | Photo by Kim Douglas

Anne watched and listened to Clinton Anderson that day with rapt attention, and returned to the Downunder Horsemanship clinic the next for more horse training education. She realized that the horse she’d had while growing up, a gentle Paint gelding named Comanche, had been very quiet and not a horse training challenge at all. Anne now needed new horsemanship skills, and she decided Clinton Anderson and Downunder Horsemanship could show her the way.

“I need to learn how to be the boss,” she said to herself, and so she got to work. She bought a Downunder Horsemanship halter, lead rope and training stick, became a member of the Downunder Horsemanship No Worries club. She then started doing ground work with her mare, Serena, so she would respect her both on the ground and under saddle—just like Clinton Anderson said she would.

Do you need more ground work lessons to improve your horsemanship?

Clinton Anderson's Ground WorkGain respect from your horse on the ground with Clinton Anderson's Ground Work: Tried and True Horse-Training Methods and form a stronger partnership with your horse.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

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Within months, she said, Serena was a different mare—no longer crow hopping, no longer pushy, no longer the hot, reactive, moody mare she had been. One day, as she and Anne ambled along on a trail ride, a woman who used to board at Anne’s barn passed the pair and said in amazement, “Is that Serena? She’s so quiet now! Did you hire a horse trainer?”

Anne laughed as she gave her answer. “Clinton Anderson,” she said.

So in honor of Anne and Serena’s success, we here at MyHorse Daily thought we’d bring you a Downunder Horsemanship ground work lesson from master horse trainer Clinton Anderson—the exact one that Anne used for Serena’s first horse training lessons to teach how the mare to stop crowding her.

Downunder Horsemanship Ground Work Lesson: Yield the Forequarters 
If you don’t teach your horse how to yield his forequarters, he’ll become pushy and disrespectful. Here’s a natural horsemanship lesson on how to get control of his “steering wheel.”
By Clinton Anderson ~ Photos Courtesy of Downunder Horsemanship

Clinton Anderson Ground Work

Here, you’ll learn how to teach your horse to yield his forequarters during ground work. Note that if you’re standing on your horse’s left side, his left front leg should cross in front of his right front leg.

A lot of horses, especially those that are really pushy and disrespectful, use their head, neck, and shoulders to push you around and move you out of their way.

If you don’t teach your horse how to yield his forequarters, he’ll get very pushy and disrespectful. Think of your horse’s head and neck like his steering wheel. The better control you can get of his steering wheel, the more responsive he’ll be.

Horses seem to have an entirely different perspective of you, the horse trainer, when they know you have the power to drive their front end around 360 degrees, because they know they no longer have the power to push you around with their head, neck, and shoulders.

Learn the Natural Horsemanship Way of Training Horses

Clinton Anderson's Ground WorkDo you want to learn how to work with horses using nautural horsemanship? Our free guide Clinton Anderson's Ground Work: Tried and True Horse-Training Methods will teach you how to communicate with your horse better and gain his respect on the ground.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

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Here, I’ll explain how to teach your horse to pivot on his hindquarters and move his front end away from you 360 degrees.

You’ll need: A rope halter, a 14-foot lead rope, a Handy Stick, and an enclosed work area with good footing. (To order a Handy Stick, click here.)

Step-by-Step Technique

Step 1. Position for control

Loop the lead rope around your horse’s neck two or three times so that it isn’t dragging on the ground. Position yourself so that your belly button is in line with your horse’s eye.

Some horses have a habit of walking forward instead of stepping across with their front feet. The farther forward you stand, the more you’ll discourage your horse from wanting to walk forward out into a circle. If you’re too far back near his shoulder, you’ll actually make it easy for him to walk forward.

With the hand that is the closest to your horse’s nose, hold the lead rope about a foot from the snap. If there’s too much slack in the lead rope, you won’t be able to correct him when he walks forward. But if you hold it too short (with your hand directly below the snap), there won’t be enough slack in the rope for him to move away from you, and you’ll be constantly pulling his head toward you.

Hold the Handy Stick horizontally, in both hands, level with your horse’s eye.

Holding the Handy Stick horizontally allows you to easily tap your horse’s jaw and neck.

Step 2. Tap the air

Lightly tap the air with rhythm — one, two, three, four; then start tapping your horse — one, two, three, four — until he takes one correct step. If you’re standing on his left side, his left front leg should cross in front of his right front leg.

If your horse doesn’t respond when you lightly tap the air, gradually increase the pressure by tapping his jaw and neck with rhythm. Keep increasing the pressure until you make him feel uncomfortable.

At that point, you’re going to maintain the pressure and wait for your horse’s inside front foot to take one step across his outside front foot. Any time he walks forward, back him up aggressively a few steps, then ask him to yield his front end again.

Step 3. Rub him to a stop

As soon as your horse takes one correct step, stop tapping, and rub him to a stop with the Handy Stick and your hands. Rubbing him lets him know that your body language has changed from active, which means move, to passive, which means stand still and relax. It also teaches him not to be fearful of the stick or your hands. He has to learn how to tell the difference between active and passive body language.

Rubbing your horse with the Handy Stick teaches him not to be fearful of the stick or your hands.

Step 4. Add more steps

When your horse can consistently take one step away from you, then look for two steps. When he consistently takes two correct steps, look for three.

As your horse gets more confident, you an slowly start to add more steps until he can eventually yield 360 degrees away from you. But if you ask for too many steps in the beginning, you’ll confuse him.

The secret to great horsemanship is establishing a good starting point. If you can find a place to start, you can teach a horse to do just about anything.

Step 5. Switch sides

When your horse can take several good steps away from you with his front end, teach the exercise to the other side of his body.

Keep in mind that when you switch sides, you switch brains. Start at the beginning of the exercise, only looking for one step at a time. When you stand on your horse’s right side, you want him to place his right front foot over and in front of his left front foot.

Before You Climb in the Saddle, Try These Essential Horse-Training Tips

Clinton Anderson's Ground WorkClinton Anderson explains how to get your horse to yield his hindquarters, yield his forequarters, back up with energy ad longe with respect in Clinton Anderson's Ground Work: Tried and True Horse-Training Methods.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

Please provide your name and email address to download this free guide.

All fields are required.

Step 6. Ask for a 360 degree yield

Now that your horse understands the concept of the exercise, gradually ask for more steps until you can yield his forequarters 360 degrees around his hindquarters.

As your horse gets more confident, you can slowly start to add more steps until he can eventually yield 360 degrees away from you. But if you ask for too many steps in the beginning, you’ll confuse him.

Amy Herdy

Amy Herdy

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

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