Make Every Moment a Time to Train
Clinton Anderson offers training tips on how
to make the most of moments you do have to spend with your
In the May 2004 issue of Horse & Rider,
the article "Finding (Making!) Time to Ride" tells how busy
amateurs fit horses into their already-full lives. Here,
clinician Clinton Anderson shares his tips for making the
most of the time you do have to spend with your horse. His
Cluster training days. "If you have only three days a
week to ride, you'll accomplish more in your training if you
can make those days consecutive, rather than spread
throughout the week. This is especially true when you're
attempting to teach your horse something new. Horses need
consistent, repeated training sessions until a learned
response becomes a habit. After that, they can go longer
periods of time and still retain their training.
"For example, when my horses get the weekend off, I find
they have 'Monday-itis' when I begin riding again at the
start of the week. I have to go back and repeat what I was
teaching them on Friday, because they've lost most of it. On
Tuesday, I can pretty much pick right up from where we left
off on Monday. On Wednesday, we progress from Tuesday, and
so on. That way, I make actual progress in all but the first
of the days I ride that week.
"If, by contrast, you ride, say, on Monday, Wednesday, and
Saturday, you're dealing with 'Monday-itis' every time you
ride, so your horse progresses much more slowly."
Train all the time. "By this I mean, require some
sort of obedience from your horse every moment you're with
him. When you're cleaning his stall, have him move around
you, rather than vice versa. If he puts his head up when
you're putting his blanket on or taking it off, pause a
moment to desensitize him to the blanket and remind him to
remain still. As you're leading him, insist that he follow
obediently, without hanging back or dragging you forward.
"The old horseman's adage is absolutely true: You're either
training or de-training your horse every moment you're with
Mind the small stuff. "Your horse is constantly
reading you in an effort to determine, 'Is she serious, or
not?' He'll test you in small ways -- push into your space,
wait a heartbeat before responding to your request, attempt
to 'get an inch' here and there -- then observe how you
respond. If you don't correct him on these small 'cheats,'
he'll eventually pull a much larger one.
"At that point, you may feel he's acting 'out of the blue.'
But, in reality, he's been telling you for some time, via
those little cheats, that he's losing respect for you.
Problem is, you haven't been 'listening' -- or correcting