Saturday, October 18, 2008

Clinton and Gabbrielle

I've been studying Clinton Anderson's Downunder Horsemanship, a book by Clinton Anderson with Ami Hendrickson. The book is very well laid out with progressive horse training exercises, including both groundwork and under saddle. Each lesson is divided into the following sections:

  • Tools Needed
  • Goal
  • Why Do It?
  • Teaching Steps
  • Common Handler Mistakes
  • Common Horse Problems
  • Troubleshooting
  • Tips for Success
  • Comments from one English rider and one Western rider who tried the exercise

I really appreciate that Clinton anticipates the types of problems that people may experience when trying these exercises, and he provides a clear explanation of how to correct them. Each lesson is covered so thoroughly that there is no room for "buts".

I find that studying horse training books can only take me so far, because it is difficult to visualize some descriptions, even with the help of photographs. (The book is very generous with photos, by the way.) It is even more difficult to memorize them long enough to set down the book and try out the exercises. On the other hand, horse training videos can only take me so far as well, because they often leave out key details that are imperative for the exercise to be successful. For that reason, I like to study both the books and videos together. The books provide the intricacies while the videos allow me to visualize and retain the information longer.

With Gabbrielle, my 3-year-old Arabian filly, I started out doing Clinton's "Flexing to the Halter" exercise to one side...

...and then the other. She caught on really fast. I had her bend her head around and held the lead rope at a certain point, and once she gave her head the rest of the way I released my hold on the lead rope to reward her. She even got to the point where I could tap a point on her body that I wanted her to touch, and she would touch it with her nose.

We also worked on the "Desensitizing Exercises" with me throwing the rope around her legs...

...over her neck and withers...

...and over her back. As you can see, she couldn't care less.

I was even able to do "Slapping the Ground" in which you swing the whip or lead rope in circles by the horse's head on each side of her body, slapping the ground as hard as you can, and Gabbrielle looked bored. She didn't budge the entire time.

We also worked on backing. In this exercise I begin by marching in place, then marching toward her while swinging my riding crop in her direction. I am also saying the word, "Back!" If she doesn't get the idea, I tap her on the chest with the crop. Each time we did this, I was able to remove a step. Soon I could just say the word, "Back!" or just march in place, and she immediately took several steps back. Of course, you have to take the pressure off at the slightest movement backward to begin with, and then you can ask for a few more steps before removing the pressure after some practice.

I made sure that she got plenty of pats and praise after each successful exercise.


dp said...

Good stuff! She is a beauty! Again, I can't believe the difference that CA's methods have made for Raven and she is 15, so quite set in her (bad!) ways.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Whohooo! These are great photos to see what you've been working on. Gabbrielle looks beautiful...and so do you, too!

I especially like that last photo.

Kep up the good work, NM :)


Callie said...

Awesome job! And once again thanks for sharing! I need to start doing some work with my girls!

IamRockinHorse said...

I love watching Clinton Anderson and his Downunder Horsemanship. He has a lot of good tips. (Or maybe it's for his accent! lol)
Glad so see Gabrielle so responsive. She is sooo pretty!
Will you be starting to ride her soon?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I plan to start her under saddle in the spring. She's mentally ready for it, but I've been waiting for her to fill out physically. I also haven't done any foundation training with her during the summer months because I was too busy riding my other horses. Since the days are so short in the fall and spring, I tend to dedicate that time for ground work.

Laura said...

Wow - she is a pretty mare! I love dapple grey arabs. *sigh*

I think all of the foundation work is so important for both horse and rider. It really gives both parties alot of confidence. I need to do more with Rusty - more for my sake than his!

Train Wreck said...

What a pretty girl! I too love dapple greys!

Victoria Cummings said...

She's a pretty girl - and it looks like your groundwork exercises are going well - I think it's wise that you waited to start her until she's fully grown. Too many people are in a hurry and then wonder why their horses have leg problems later.

Jenn said...

I know there is a segment of the horse owning population who truly abhor the natural horsemanship methods. I use some of them, but when you really start dissecting the methods, it's just horse sense and understanding how the horse brain works.

I haven't really learned anything "new" from the methods, just the old, reliable ways introduced with new language. (and pictures!) I think what I've taken away the most is the concept of time. Too many trainers/owners want to rush the training from the beginning and end up with HUGE holes later. Holes that are a pain to go back to fix and could have been avoided with plenty of time on the ground.

Good for you for taking the time to really work with Gabbrielle, she is a gorgeous girl and seems to have received the smart Arab genes rather than the crazy/flighty ones!

Shirley said...

Love the shadow picture! And I too think that you can never do too much ground work. I'm working on ground work with my palomino filly now,and am going to have to find some interesting things to do as she is way too young to ride. Maybe I'll pick up that book and try some of Clinton's exercises!