Training Horses: Two Methods that Work

Good Morning! Happy Hump Day!

It’s been a while since Vinni has had the spot light and he was looking so pretty after his bath that I just had to share a picture. ūüôā


Any idea who this man is?

Clinton Anderson


If you said Clinton Anderson, you’re right! Isn’t he amazing? Don’t you just love his method of training horses? Me too!

Well I say me too but in actuality I don’t agree with everything he preaches. See I’m your typical girl that started riding horses at a young age thus I LOVE “loving” on my horses. I give them thousands of hugs and kisses a day (Yes, even at almost 30 I still do this!) and I give them lots of treats. This is where Clinton and I differ. If I understand what I’ve heard right, he believes that we shouldn’t do that kind of stuff to our horses if they don’t respect us. Now I do believe he is right if you have a horse that bites and kicks and is just plain mean. However, if you have a horse that just has some space issues I think its different and I think loving on them is fine.

I’m going to use Spur as an example. When I first met Spur a few years ago, he was your typical cowboy horse. He lacked any attachment to humans and HATED to be messed with in a “loving” way. If you tried to rub his head he would push you away, if you tried to hug on him he would step away. He wasn’t the type of horse to run away when you went after him in the field but he would make you come to him. He had trained his human counter part good. It’s almost like he stood at the other end of the field and when he would see his owner come up he would pick his head up and say “Come here little ¬†human. If you want to ride today you’re going to get the workout first.” ¬†Now none of that sounds bad but what was bad was feeding time. This horse was scary when it came to feeding time. He would charge you, turn his butt to you, and just be plain mean.

So when Spur came to board with me I took him on as a side project. I wanted to take this emotionless horse and see what type of personality he really had. When I found out about his feeding issues I also wanted to fix that. I don’t like being scared of a horse and I for sure won’t put up with worrying about him hurting anyone. So I went to work.

Here’s where I differ from Clinton. I didn’t start out round penning and getting him to respect me. Instead I did the opposite. I spent lots of time grooming him, rubbing him in the pasture, feeding him treats, and kissing on him when he would let me. I wanted to show Spur I didn’t think of him as just a horse to ride, I wanted him to see I really cared about him. I wanted to build a connection between us.

After a few weeks, what I was doing had paid off. Spur was a different horse and it was very obvious. He got excited to see me when I would go out to the barn, he would neigh for me when I would see him and the best part was having him come trotting up to the gate when I would call for him when he was out. It was a wonderful feeling for me. I had connected to this horse and that’s exactly what I set out to do.

Now with the connection in place I started on his feeding issue. Here is where I do agree with Clinton. I did need Spur to respect my space and back off when it was time to eat. So I stuck him in the round pen and worked him a little bit. I also would use my “Clinton Stick” to keep him away and respecting me around the barn.

After I felt he respected me, I started to dump his feed and just stand there while he ate. I wanted him to know he didn’t have to worry about someone stealing his food. At first I just made my¬†presence¬†known to him from outside the stall. As he was ok with this I would move in closer. Eventually I got to where I would stand beside him and would rub on him. After a month or so of doing this Spur got much better. He stopped charging everyone that fed him and he wasn’t as threatening. You could now carry a feed bucket around him and not worry about your life being in danger.

Now I am a huge Clinton fan and I do listen and follow his training method but I believe there are more ways to train a horse then just his way. His way is great but I really don’t feel it gives me the “bond” that I’m looking for with a horse. I do feel like I gain the respect which is why I do his method but I also want the emotional connection. This is the connection that makes me feel safe when I’m on the horse. Its the feeling of knowing my horse cares about me as much as I care about him and he will take care of me like he does himself. I believe with all my heart that that connection only comes from showing your horse love through kisses, hugs, and rub downs.

Spur has always been a great horse to ride but I never felt like he took care of me when I was on his back. Now when I ride him I know he’s listening to me and wants to keep me safe. This might all sound crazy to you especially since I can’t articulate what it is that makes me feel this way but I promise its real. If you don’t believe me, just try it yourself. Try showing your horse a little more love and see if it doesn’t make a difference in the way he/she acts towards you.


Question for you:

  • Are you a Clinton Anderson follower? What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from him?

  • Do you love on your horses like I do? Do you think of them as more than just an animal to ride?



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