Friday, October 15, 2010

Down Under Horsemanship? - Buy Local

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.


  1. AMEN!
    Horse sense is such a rare commodity, and yet it's right there for the taking. It's just whether you want to pay exhorbitant amounts for three days of information overload, or have a steady resource right at hand over the long run.

  2. Well put. I have noticed that some devotees get a little riled if you mention that their guru is teaching old tricks, but I guess the charisma and grandeur is included in the price tag.

  3. 4000.00 for 10 days????

    My horse better clean his own corral and cook my dinner after that!

  4. I think a lot of the appeal has to do with the fact that many people are insecure with their horses. They think they constantly need to be told what to do because they can't do it on their own. Some people could ride all day every day for fifty years and still not be able to train a horse. That's not a judgement; it's just something I've observed. Then there's the attention from a charismatic expert. What's not to like. I've been to clinics with maybe six different clinicians, and there's only one or two I go back to for more. I get something out of all of them, but am selective if ego and commercialism comes in.

  5. Well said.
    Except I cannot believe that you think the Aussie accent is nice - as a new zealander we often say that aussies can be attractive until they open their mouth and speak!! :)

    I got taught "old school" by my Mum back in the 1980's, who learnt from her father, a Bulgarian show jumping coach, and a couple of old (when Mum was young) irish men that were teamsters when that meant driving a team of draft horses. Mum used to say that they had forgotten more about horses than most people will ever know.

    Mum used to give a few kids leassons, and they would pay hundreds to go off to a visiting instructor, and then Mum would have to help them get the horses or pony going well again - very frustrating for her.

    I was taught to make it easy to do the right thing, make the incorrect thing uncomfortable or difficult, and don't ask for more than what the horse can do, or understand.

    I also find it cool that although with western you are riding on a "loose rein" as opposed to the "contact" used in english, the basics of horses are still the same.

    I'd love to give western a go if I ever get to the stage of being able to ride again going back to beginner level would probably be safer for me, and less frustraating if I have to learn a new method - if I try to do wht I used to do, I'll probably get my self in trouble as I will forget that the last time I rode competively was over 15 years ago...and I can't ride like that now!

  6. Timely post - my farrier pulled out some Clinton Anderson moves on my horse this week...

    I feel lucky - I got a $40 trim + free cowboy magic :)

  7. I have to say, I love watching the clinicians, but I learned early on to have a pretty good filter and use what I needed.

    I was one of those a few years back who bought a yearling as a first horse. Watched all the major clinicians, read all the popular books, then just did what made sense to me, and what worked with my colt.

    Were I an idiot, I'd be running around telling greenies it was perfectly OK to start out with young horses, but I do have the sense to know that the majority of my success was due to my particular mellow good-minded colt, who's now eight and a hell of a trail horse.

    So I learned a lot from all of the clinicians' videos I watched, but the people who become clinician fanatics astound me.

    On a side note, my mother just had to have a Clinton Anderson saddle a few years back, so Dad and I got her one.

    Last year I realized she wasn't using it, so I stole it from her. My boy's hard to fit with big shoulders and a short back, so I thought I'd try it out. It's a fantastic saddle!

  8. Great reasoning. I agree with you BUT there is a little hick ... good local trainer are rare very rare.

    I can tell you more stories of horses falling into bad hands than good hands.

    Do you know why?
    Because good trainers are usually horses orientated, They work hard and they tellyou the "truth" about your horse! For example, "your horse is perfect for you, but he is too hot to be an open".
    Bad trainers are people orientated, they present well, they smile, they SPEAK to you, well they tell you what you want to hear.

    I did join Mr Anderson non-non sense club, I spend 17 euros per month for good advises. It is MUCH cheaper than spending 20 euros to a crap trainer per week.
    Now After two years, I have met a GOOD trainer, so I might cancel my Anderson membership.

    Yes buy local, if you can!

  9. Amen, sister!!! I think alot of the appeal is the BNT is advertised, has a following (group fan club), and, sometimes, is as good as a stay-at-home trainer. But think about it, they train people. Not horses. Horses don't read ads. They don't care that a guy has a cute butt or accent. Real horse training is WORK, day in, day out, cold, rain, dust, consistent WORK. I don't know much, but I know that. And it didn't come with my stupid carrot stick. It came from a local trainer that I lucked into, he doesn't like to have newbie human re-riders, he trains pro reiners and TBs having trouble at the track (OMG are they fun to watch him work with!!) He has rough gruff honest people skills. He yells at the people, never the horses. He does things that Walt Disney wouldn't film. But he can calmly explain the goals of each technique, and makes it as safe as he can for the horse. I wasted more money trying to convince myself I could train my own, working 40 hours a week, with kids, pets, and no place to ride or train but a muddy pasture. I know why people follow these guys, they want to believe they can do it, and often just don't have the time or drive or energy to do it. Hire a professional locally, and watch. I love hanging around the barn watching. I agree, train local. And watch and learn. No expensive toys, just good horsemanship.

  10. Just this week a "Down Under Horsemanship" catalog arrive at my house. I didn't request it, probably the result of mailing list sharing. The cover has a picture of him working a horse in front of a huge plume of theatrical fog and flame-like lighting. I thought wow, that's.... a little Arabian Nights, isn't it? And then I saw the prices. $90 for a halter and lead. I've been finding them for $10. I'm sure there are small differences, but are there $80 worth of differences?

  11. I was totally appalled that he has started selling "Clinton Anderson Signature Horses".I am a firm believer in always learning and being open and willing to recognize when you need to ask for help. There are really excellent local horsemen and women in every discipline. You need to be able to recognize what you can learn and take from any trainer and then be able to execute it consistently yourself on your own with your own horse.

    I always find the ones that put the horses well being and the horses ability to learn and improve first are the ones I want to learn from and spend my $$ with.

  12. Very timely. I went to a Dennis Reis clinic a couple weeks ago, looking for some tips to help me get back into riding, and to actually ride my 4 year old gelding. I did like him, and I liked the fact that there wasn't a big show, it was straight up colt breaking/horse training/riding, no nonsense. He also sat down with the attendees during breaks and talked and answered questions.

    I have to say he seemed a lot different in person than he does on RFD. He's a cowboy, no nonsense from horses or human students, and he works hard and non-stop all day.

    The major lesson I learned those two days, was, do what it takes to get the job done, if you can't do the job right on your own, get someone who can. All of the client horses brought to that clinic were ridden. Even if they had never been ridden before. When the time came to mount up, one lady said she had never ridden her horse, and Dennis told one of his young cowboys to take the horse in the round pen for half an hour. The cowboy got the job done, and rode him in the riding part of the clinic for the next two days.

    I didn't spend the big bucks to take my horse, but I realized that I really need to get his feet moving. I've had a couple of non-horse related injuries in the last couple years and I'm just not sure of myself anymore. It's all me, my colt has been very good for me, but I know he's young and strong and it's a long way down. So, I've hired a local young lady who breaks arab showhorses for her grandmother. She doesn't have to do any training, just make him go forward and stick with him when he gets stubborn. I just have to learn to be a humble old lady now.

  13. The thing about CA, Parelli, or any of those "home study" deals that appeal to beginners.... Anderson isn't there to correct you. I thought I could ride a hell of a lot better than I actually can until I met my trainer... she slowly, kindly took apart my terrible equitation and bless her, she's trying to put me back together right... I've been riding 3 years or so? But I am definitely still a beginner and not as advanced as I could be if I had had someone here correcting the bad muscle memory I was building.

    Nothing can replace a trainer telling you things like "toes in. sit up. suck in your gut!" or, more essentially, when my mare blows, as she just did recently (a trailer pulled in behind us at a group trail event and she decided that spooking=broncing, she pulls that one from time to time) having someone you TRUST hollering instruction to you. A year ago, I'd NEVER have sat a blowup like that one, but hearing my trainers reassuring voice was a godsend: "Hang in there! Sit back! Pull Her up! You got it!" Even when she's not there, I am so accustoemd to her corrections that I am beginning to hear them in my head as I begin to make a mistake.

    I like CA, I have one of his books and it helped me a lot with groundwork, but there are some things you just cannot grasp and master without one-on-one instruction, encouragement, and correction or mistakes. I never even KNEW I was making certain mistakes until my trainer taught me.

    Anyways, you can't go trail riding with Clinton Anderson! My trainer does a standing Sunday morning trail ride with clients and friends, and she's also always there when I have questions, and we're great friends too!! Can't find that in a video!

    Done rambling!! Got me all warm and fuzzy about my trainer!!

  14. I agree with Amy 100 percent--videos, books, and magazine articles aren't there to correct you or give you one-on-one attention.

    About five years ago, I decided to take up riding. Fortunately, I was referred to a wonderful, local trainer who's both a good horsewoman and a nice people person. When I started lessons, I made a commitment to myself--to shut my mouth and open my ears.

    When it was time to buy my first mule (after six months of lessons), my trainer chose a safe, broke 14-year-old mule for me to buy. Six months later, we won our first blue ribbons at a schooling show. Within three years, Maxine and I were winning championship ribbons (and prizes!).

    Now I have a second mule--a 16-month of ball of fun. I was there the day Madge was born, and I've been working with her ever since, under the close eye of my trainer. When it's time for Madge to learn significant tasks, I put her in training with my trainer. Smaller issues are addressed during my weekly lessons.

    I can't tell you how much I've learned by having someone always by my side. Like Amy, I also hear her instructions in my head when she's not around.

    When I ride at shows, I see a lot of novices with green animals carrying the latest training toys. Many are going it on their own, learning from RFD and magazines. Some look at me like I'm crazy when they hear that I've been taking weekly lessons for five years. Of course, they're the same ones who "can't believe I've only been riding for five years."

    During this time, I've watched a lot of people come and go. They question my trainer, bring her "amazing" articles, or simply ignore her suggestions. Why? Because so-and-so said they should do such-and-such. They go to clinics then gush about what they've learned, which is often the exact same thing my trainer's been trying to tell them for weeks.

    Do I go to clinics? Sometimes. Either when they're a free part of another event I'm already going to visit or when my trainer is going to be there.

    Do I learn from clinicians? Sure. I usually take home a good idea or two. Fortunately I'm able to realize that it's usually something that simply helped me realize what my trainer's been trying to get through my thick head for weeks. ;)

    Yes, I love my trainer.


  15. I try to extract the good from them all, because each does have something to offer, especially to one as inexperienced as myself. The trick is not buying into the hype. I went to a Parelli demo and was baffled at why people would pay $50 for a stick they could buy at any tack store for less than $10. "Take what you need and leave the rest."

    I'll take one-on-one any day!

  16. I learned to ride mainly from reading books. Margaret Cabell Self, the Pony Club manual, Col. Alois Podhasky, and George H. Morris were my teachers. I understand that many people cannot learn from books and I admit I certainly don't know it all but I can't afford the exorbitant prices of these clinics so I attend only when I can. I often watch the tv programs for a time until I see them getting repetitious. I notice that much of the horsemanship covered by these clinicians are the same hash re-served with a new garnish or two. So, yes, I totally agree, Go LOCAL!!!

  17. I have seen Clinton Anderson twice. He cracks me up. I think that he sits up nights coming up with americanisms...and it works to keep your attention. I wouldn't say that I am a fan, I do like his style but it certainly isn't an end all for me. But, I love, love, love his halters. They fit every horse, every time. I have tried many different cheaper brands and they just don't fit. Yes they are expensive but I don't want to spend my time trying to make a home made halter or a cheap one fit. The lead rope I can take or leave. I don't have a stick or a hat. I do have his loping hackamore - got it on ebay used - cheap - and I like it.

  18. You are absolutely right about variations of a theme; although I must admit I've never been to anyone's clinic (I do like Mark Rashid's books though). I am sure psychology is a major factor in the purchase of a clinician's "special tools" that so many people feel are essential to improve their own horse training ability. I think that's also where P.T. Barnum's phrase comes in to play, "There's a sucker born every minute". ;o)

  19. Works well if you're somewhere like Colorado where you have a tradition of thoughtful horse-sensitive training that is where most of these guys are coming from, one way or another.

    Here in the UK that's harder to find because the riding philosophy does very little with regard to working from the horse's point of view. Not that people don't care about their horses, nor that they aren't trying their best but if you were to read the BHS Manual Of Horsemanship you would shudder. We have some amazing riders, some excellent equestrians, but there are very few genuine horsemen as I understand the term in a British tradition.

    Hence we can have Monty Roberts, of all people, coming over and looking like some kind of miracle worker for using a bit of horse psychology so basic to most trainers in your part of the world they wouldn't think about it twice, and it seems to people here as though he's turning the world upside-down.

  20. Thanks Mugs. As a horsetrainers daughter, I concur-BUY LOCAL!! Love it.

  21. I recently received a Clinton Anderson catalog in the mail. The cover said something to the effect that it only takes two days to become a better horseman. I have to disagree, and I think that it's irresponsible. There are people who will take that to mean that after two days at a clinic, they know all there is to know about working with horses, and that's an unsafe way of thinking when it comes to a 1500 pound animal with a mind of its own.

    Mugs - love your writing!

  22. Amy Lou,

    It really only takes 2 minutes to become a better horseman, 2 days is generous. To become a good horseman, or even a good enough horseman, that's a whole other story.

    I don't think that Anderson would ever promote something unsafe, that's one of his main concerns. And I don't think that a beginner can buy his program and become a good horseman in 2 days or even 2 months. If you already have a lot of experience you can learn a lot from watching him, if not, you better get a good local trainer.

  23. What bothers me is that so many equals a successful rider with being a good instructor/trainer.

    IMHO that is not always the case.

    Often someone that has had to struggle a bit more, that has had to analyze his/her own riding quite a lot to improve, might be able to help others more than someone to whom the riding has come more effortlessly.

    The ability to analyze, to divide the problem into peaces that can be easily digested, and to attack the most important problem first are what I belive characterizes a good trainer.
    I also appriciate a large tool box, so if one tool doesn't work, we find another one and see if that works better.
    And a sympathetic approach doesn't hurt either.

    That is more important to me than whatever the trainer's name is.

  24. Hi guys! If anybody remembers me, I still have Dude, Matt and Queenie. I have a boyfriend nwo who is riding Dude and they have clicked!

  25. I think the magic of this Big Name trainers is exactly what Mugs said: “He is kind, funny and most of all he can explain things in a clear and concise way.” It has nothing to do with their actual skills with a horse and everything to do with their ability to explain it in an non-offensive, memorable way to a housewife who only spends 2-3 hours a week with their stabled horse. I completely agree that latching onto a mentor in the form of a good, local horse trainer will advance your skills significantly faster than attending pricy clinics every weekend. Unfortunately, that’s so much easier said than it is done. Even if you find someone who is handy with horses, that doesn’t mean they are going to be able to explain to you what you’re doing wrong. When you’re confused and overwhelmed, hearing things like, “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult” or “Control their hindquarters and you’ve got the horse” is more frustrating than anything else. Yes, I understand the idea behind the concept… but HOW? What do I physically need to do? Most of the really good horse people I’ve met are a lot like alpha mares – they don’t have much patience for stupidity and they’re much handier at kicking someone back into place than they are at gently encouraging someone forward. This is handy training if you’re an aggressive rider, but I think most of us who are seeking help tend to be older, a little more timid in our approach and needing more encouragement to go forward than help holding us back. Big name trainers are fantastic at inspiring you to think “Hey, maybe I *CAN* do this on my own!”

    Inspiring or not, I have to echo what everyone else has already said--- there is no substitute for having someone on hand to yell at your for your mistakes when they happen. The first time I rode a cutter I froze up in the saddle, completely overcome with anxiety that I was going to have the horse spin out from underneath me and dump me in the dirt like a newbie. I was so anxious to appear knowledgeable that I turned into a plank of wood. Since I was no longer able to move with the horse’s movements, I found myself bouncing all over the place at a trot like a complete newbie. I was horrified to look like such an idiot in front of the watching cowboys. That made me freeze up more… which caused me to bounce more… which caused me to shove my feet harder into the stirrups, bracing myself and squeezing to hold on… which caused the horse to speed up and bounce me even harder. I was completely mortified, butt slapping up and down in the saddle like I’d never sat a trot in my life. Finally, the guy who offered to help me (and had been working a cow of his own while I “warmed up”) looked over at me. “What the hell?” I heard him say, and then he barked at me, “SIT DOWN!” in a completely disgusted tone of voice—the kind of voice you’d use on a dog that just nosed its way into the trash.

    Instantly, my body obeyed and I found myself sitting the horse comfortably. It was really the strangest feeling. Inwardly I was furious (ordering me around like I was a dog… HMPH!), but it obviously worked.. All I needed was to be snapped out of my own self-made impending cycle of doom. Left on my own, I probably would have ended up falling off in a self-fulfilled prophecy. I’ll never forget how quickly one little well-timed holler helped me out that day.

  26. Hey Mugs,you are so right.
    If you can get from your local trainer what you can get at a clinic - local is the place to be.

    And as Muriel says, Good luck. Very few local trainers are as good as you Mugs. And most who are good with horses aren't good with people.

    Good clinicians are good with people and horses. I had years of good instructors - but nothing ever came together. I 'knew' a lot but it had no synergy. When I started studying the Parelli approach I suddenly had a larger structure for all that 'data' I had learned to hang onto and get organized into a whole.

    I take lessons with a good natural trainer at my home stable but she doesn't offer me the over arching structure I got from Parelli. Her stuff sure sticks with it well though.

    As for the person who dismissed the 'pricey' Parelli equipment, that equipment is top notch. I still use my original halter, lead rope and carrot stick from 10 years ago. How many people spend major money on bits and tie downs and chains and martingales, etc, when a good set of lessons with a natural trainer using a rope halter and a good (longer than 8 feet) lead rope would allow them to forgo half the 'expensive' stuff they have accumulated and get more from their horse.

    I have friends who fought the 'pricey' Parelli equipment and got cheaper versions. After spending all that money on the cheap stuff, they ended up buying the real items and got much better results. So they spent more then they had to by being cheap.

    And I say if you can get it good locally, do it. if not, get it where you can.

  27. I think the magic of this Big Name trainers is exactly what Mugs said they are “kind, funny and most of all [they] can explain things in a clear and concise way.” Their popularity has nothing to do with their actual skills with a horse and everything to do with their ability to explain horse training in an non-offensive, memorable way to a housewife who only spends 3-4 hours a week around horses. While latching onto a mentor in the form of a good, local horse trainer will advance your skills significantly faster than attending pricy clinics every weekend, that’s so much easier said than it is done.

    Even if you find someone who is handy with horses, that doesn’t mean they are going to be able to explain to you what you’re doing wrong. When you’re confused and overwhelmed, hearing things like, “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult” or “Control their hindquarters and you’ve got the horse” is more frustrating than anything else. Yes, I understand the idea behind the concept...but HOW? What do I physically need to do? Most of the really good horse people I’ve met are a lot like alpha mares – they don’t have much patience for stupidity and they’re much handier at kicking someone back into place than they are at gently encouraging someone forward. This is great training if you’re an aggressive rider, but I think most of us who are seeking help tend to be older, a little more timid in our approach and needing more encouragement to go forward than help holding us back. Big name trainers are fantastic at inspiring you to think “Hey, maybe I *CAN* do this on my own!”

    On the other hand, big-name trainers probably won't be able help you reach your horse from the saddle. I don't know abotu the rest of you, but that's where all my communication skills start to break down. There’s no substitution for having someone yell at your about your mistakes as you’re actually doing them.

  28. Cool post! Glad you had a good time!

  29. lots of good stuff here.

    I also make a practice of buying local, and 4 years into my re-riding career, I'm finally figuring out what works for me.

    NH is not my thing, especially since the BO's favorite NH trainers start out every horse by throwing it on a really short longe line and whipping it back and forth, changing directions, changing gaits until the horse is dizzy and "submits." No, you don't get to do that with my mare and her bad hocks.

    What I need:

    -- support
    -- no put-downs or yelling
    -- someone who lets me try things first, and if I'm stuck, can get on the horse and show me what to do
    -- someone who doesn't mind that I can be really chicken-sh*t, has health issues, and am a bit overweight
    -- step by step instructions and a goal

    The "let me try things first" is really important. I do not understand how for riding, the rider does everything, with the coach's help, but for NH groundwork, the trainer wants to take the horse away from the owner and demonstrate right off, and often does not give the horse back to the owner until the session is almost over. It seems like just a way to show off.

    I am working on the "make it easier to do the right thing" with one of the horses I use for lessons. My biggest issue there is reaction time -- if she doesn't respond correctly, bring her back down and get her butt under her and ask again, instantly. Two strides max for a correction.

  30. Thanks. Nice to see a well thought-out review of a CA tour from a real horse trainer.
    I agree...if you can get good training locally, go for it!

    However, if you can't then at least try to do yourself and your horse a favor by practicing tried and true techniques you can learn online/on tv from a good people/horse communicator.

    I prefer CA to other well known clinicians, but different people have different learning styles, so it's all about personal preference. I like having the question of "what can I work on today?" already answered for me, so that the time I do get to spend with my horse is as productive as possible.

  31. As many have said..."very well put."

    Take what you need and leave the rest. I'm totally opposed to the dog 'n pony show...with the large price tags on simple equipment...a huge pet peeve with me. I've heard of clinics so full (40 riders) that you don't learn anything.

    Taking that money and investing it into one on one or small group lessons from a credible local trainer is well worth it.

    My Project with Mike Bridges has been awesome. What I'm liking the most is that there are only 15 riders (we meet twice a year for 5 years) and he's right there to tell you how to fix what you've got going wrong...or telling you your horse is ready to move up and ask more of him...there is a goal, and keep moving toward that goal...

    I've seen folks go year after year to the big clinicians and they are in the same spot with their horse they were the year before...nothing's changed. That's not worth it to me.

  32. You sound like one of those "Colorado Proud" commercials, but I completely agree. So much can be learned from people who live right here, no need to pay for someone from elsewhere just to have a fancy name slapped on your halter.