April 11th: I was the lucky winner of day with Clinton Anderson, popular Aussie horse trainer and clinician, at his new ranch in Stephenville, Texas. Members of his “No Worries Club” were invited to submit a video of any problems we were encountering with our horses.
Masada Alissa, a Straight Egyptian, Sheykh Obeyd mare bred by Walter Schimanski, retired from endurance racing a number of years ago and, although she is a nice ride MOST of the time, she seems to think it’s a race whenever I ride with others. I have struggled with her persistent jigging and head tossing for five years and hoped that Clinton could help me solve these problems.
The session, which actually covered two partial days, was filmed to become a DVD for 11,000+ club members and may eventually be featured on his Downunder Horsemanship program on RFD-TV. Certainly many “hot blooded” horse owners battle this same problem and by showing me what to do for my horse, he will also help others to overcome this issue with their horses. To begin with, he worked with me on the execution of his Fundamental groundwork exercises, sharpening my timing and her responses. After that, I saddled up and rode the “cruising lessons,” where the horse is kept in a consistent walk, trot or canter on a loose rein until they no longer try to go faster or slower. We also practiced a lot of one rein stops and lateral flexion exercises.
The next day, after some ground work and warm-up in the arena, we hit the trail. Clinton had me practice cruising on a loose rein among the trees outside the arena. After that, he worked with me on circling at the trot and canter around trees and eventually around the horse he was riding. Only when we left his horse were we allowed to rest. This same process is helpful for barn-sour and herd-bound horses. In effect, the idea of being with other horses and/or racing them became more like work and less like security to her. Eventually, she became very quiet and light to my cues. Towards the end of our ride, Clinton would gallop by us whooping and hollering and waving his cowboy hat. This would have normally caused her to come completely unglued and want to race but instead, she was happy to just walk along, head low and on a loose rein listening to me.
I feel very fortunate to have had such a wonderful one-on one opportunity to improve my horsemanship skills and to learn what to do and not do when a horse wants to jig. I am grateful to Clinton for his time, everyone at the ranch for their hospitality and to Lisa Rettke for accompanying me on the long trip. It was a once in a lifetime experience I won’t ever forget!