How Clinton Teaches

I love the way Clinton Anderson teaches. He has his own way of explaining and puts it in this order:

  1. Goal
  2. Why
  3. Teaching Stage
  4. Handler Mistakes
  5. Horse Problems
  6. Troubleshooting   (optional)
  7. Success Tips       (optional)
  8. Practical Purpose

He has all of this in order but to break it down for most important, it would be Goal, Why and Teaching Stage. 


  • Goal:

Goal. For this he shows what your goal should look like. For example, in a video, he'll bring one of his horses that are already trained and know the method. He'll do the exercise he's about to teach you on this horse. Let's say...yielding the hindquarters (groundwork). He asks, the horse does exactly what he wants; crossing hindquarters while pivoting on his forefeet. He brings in a horse that already knows the exercise to show the audience what the goal should look like. 

Here's an example for the goal on yielding the hindquarters:

"To be able to disengage the horse's hindquarters 360 degrees with minimal pressure. His inside hind foot should cross over his outside foot and he should keep his front feet relatively still."

-Clinton Anderson


  • Why:

Why is exactly what it sounds like. Why? He explains why you would teach this certain exercise. What you and your horse would benefit from it. I used to wonder a lot on why people would do some of the things they did. Like backing for example. Of course I'd want my horse to back a few steps every once in awhile. And even if he's terrible at it, I'm fine with just a few lazy steps. But why teach him to back up so well? The only reason at the time I thought was it looks cool. To be able to have your horse back with speed just by a wiggle of a finger at about 14 feet away! That's cool! And it can be a reason I would teach my horse. But there's more to it than just that..                                         Backing is actually one of the most important lessons you could teach your horse. Clinton said if he had a choice to be able to teach a horse only one exercise, it would be backing. Backing is a huge fundamental part in the horse's training. For one, it teaches respect. (Very good lesson for a pushy horse).

It also helps for when you're in the saddle too. Wether you're backing on the ground work in the saddle. Horses are constantly thinking forward, forward, forward. When do you ever see a horse back up? Hardily ever. In a horse's everyday life, hardily at all. Because they hardily actually need to back up unless they feel trapped and backing is the only way out. So when you teach the horse to back, and I mean to back a lot, it actually helps the horse to start thinking about backing and stopping. It's very helpful for a better stop. You have to stop first before you back up. It helps the horse to think about backing/stopping instead of forward all the time.

"A horse that backs up really well is showing you a lot of respect. The better you can get a horse to back up, the more respectful and responsive he will be in everything else that you ask him to do. A good backup is the foundation of the stop as well as collection. A respectful horse backs up with energy any time you want. A disrespectful horse ignores you and walks toward you with pushy, dominant behavior. If you don't back your horse up, he will get pushier and more disrespectful."

-Clinton Anderson

There's a reason for all of Clinton's exercises why you would teach a horse a certain lesson. In the Fundamentals there's always a fundamental lesson for the horse to learn before he can something more advanced. 


  • Teaching Stage

The teaching stage is all the information on how to teach the horse that exercise. I'll go into this another time...

Starting: Always start with a starting point. People have a tendency to start out big. Backing, they ask for 10 steps in the beginning of the first lesson. It's like asking a kid to read a sentence full of big words when he doesn't even know the alphabet yet. Always ask for 1 or 2 steps in the beginning and reward the slightest try. Build off of that until the horse can back 20 feet with ease. 




Goal, Why and Teaching Stage are the three main subjects.

Handler Mistakes: Handler mistakes are where Clinton shows any habits or things you might not be doing right or to make sure you are doing "this" right. 

Horse Problems: Horse problems are what the horse might do. How he might react in the wrong way and what you should do. 

Practical Purpose: Where you can/should do "this" certain exercise.