Here's this weeks column, this is definitely one I wanted to share with you guys.
Down Under Horsemanship ? – I’d Rather Buy Local
By Janet Huntington
When I was still in the horse training biz I had a client/student, Lyn, who was a huge Clinton Anderson fan.
She would call and cancel her lesson so she could go to his clinics.
The next week she would show up with a $40 dollar halter, $50 stick and $30 lead rope she had bought at the clinic.
“I just couldn’t help myself,” Lyn would say, “when I watch him I get so excited I just have to go buy his stuff.”
I would give Lyn a bleak glare and sigh.
Then she would hit me with the big one.
“He trains just like you do, it’s incredible, he explains things like you and everything.”
Ay Yi Yi. I would put my head in my hands.
“Lyn,” I would say, “if I train like this guy and explain things like this guy why didn’t you just come to your lesson?”
“I’ll tie you a knotty rope halter, make you a lead rope out of climbing rope with a carabiner on it and everything. Shoot, I’ll cut you a stick too. I’ll charge you $40 for the whole mess and still be about $35 ahead,” I would add.
Lyn would laugh and say, “Your right, but he’s just so cool.”
She did this to me a couple times a year.
She took evil delight in showing me her new Clinton Anderson toys and wearing her Clinton Anderson baseball cap to her lessons.
Lyn was also one of my favorite students and her burly bay quarter horse Ted was one of the neatest horses on the planet. So there you go. I put up with the Clinton Anderson moments from Lyn.
I have absolutely nothing against clinicians. These are horse people who have figured out how to make a living and for the most part help people along the way. I tip my hat to them.
I have studied Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and John Lyons and learned tons from all of them. Through their books, tapes and clinics I became a better horseman. I refined some of my methods, dropped others and learned a whole new approach to working with my horses. So you sure aren’t going to hear me tell anybody not to attend a clinic.
The thing is, after I went to enough of these clinics and read through a bunch of books I realized something. All of these guys were singing a variation of the same song. You can get pulled into huge arguments about who started this training style, but to me it doesn’t matter, it’s still pretty much the same approach for all of them.
Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult.
Release as a reward.
Approach and retreat.
All of them preach it and every horse person on the planet needs to use it.
The thing is, that’s all they teach. Everything else is just molasses on the oats.
My first apprenticeship was with a young cow horse trainer from Calhan.
“Horse trainer” had been the only job description on my tax returns for about five years and I considered myself pretty handy.
In the five years I was under the Big K's mentorship my horsemanship and training skills soared. I was pulled into a world way over my head and floundered around for an awfully long time before I began to place in the NRCHA (National Reined Cow Horse Association) and AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) horse shows.
I’m telling you, these people could ride. The horse trainers I got to rub elbows with could get more out of, not just their horses, but themselves, than anybody I had ever had the honor to meet. I busted my butt to learn how to train my horses.
Every horse I came across in my new world already did everything I had seen on my tapes. They learned the majority of this stuff in the first 30 days of training, the rest they picked along the way.
Pretty soon mine did too.
K became one of the top money earning trainers in the country.
He was right here in Calhan.
There are trainers available in Colorado who can teach you anything you want to learn with your horse. I can guarantee all of them know the ins and outs of what the clinicians teach. If a trainer is worth his or her salt this basic horse training has been learned first off. Then they go on to the good stuff. And they’re right here, waiting to share it with you.
I went to the Clinton Anderson Walkabout Tour last weekend.
The guy can work a horse and a crowd. He is engaging, funny and full of common sense. Most of his work was on the ground, but when he rode, he rode well.
He has a great Australian accent.
He covered many of the fundamentals a horse and horse owner should know.
I didn’t disagree with a single thing he said. Because Lyn is right. He trains pretty much like I do.
He also trains pretty much like every decent trainer I know. I assume when he goes home he works on some of the other stuff. Mr. Anderson seems like a good hand.
But it costs $4000 to attend one of his clinics. For 10 days.
That’s the equivalent of 40 lessons by a local trainer. One on one, just you, your horse and the trainer.
It’s the equivalent of 6 months of full time training for your horse with lessons thrown in. With a local trainer who can teach you all of the stuff the clinicians teach plus how to work a cow, show in a horsemanship class, run barrels or compete in Western Versatility classes.
I don’t think my ticket was wasted at the Walkabout Tour. I picked up a couple of things I could add to my repertoire and learned a bunch about how to talk to clients.
Even though I’ve retired as a trainer, Anderson’s P.R. skills are phenomenal and could certainly help me as a writer.
He created enthusiasm and desire to take his techniques and apply them to the horses at home. He has rabid fans who pay to belong to his club and buy incredible amounts of his products.
He is offering clear examples of how to apply tried and true examples of horse training. He goes a long way towards demystifying getting your horse to do what we need them to do.
It wouldn’t hurt many of the trainers I know to go watch this man in action. He is kind, funny and most of all he can explain things in a clear and concise way. Many local trainers could polish up their communication skills. Ahem.
I think everybody should go watch a clinician or two. It will help you at home with your horse and give you a clear idea of where you want to go.
Then you need to find a trainer who can teach you what you and your horse need and go for it. Here. In Colorado. Buy local, save a horse trainer. I think Clinton would agree.