Clinton Anderson on Rearing, Mounting, Bridling

Got a question about riding or training your horse? Our guest expert, famed Aussie trainer Clinton Anderson, has answers for you.
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Got a question about riding or training your horse? Our guest expert, famed Aussie trainer Clinton Anderson, has answers for you.

Question: My horse is great on trail rides, until we come to something that frightens him. Then, if I try to get him to go past it, he balks, then rears. I know rearing can be dangerous. What should I do?

Clinton Anderson | Photo by Darrell Dodds

Clinton Anderson | Photo by Darrell Dodds

Clinton Anderson: Don't try and get him to go past the spooky object; instead, circle him and keep his feet busy moving forward, backward, left and right. Each time you come to the object circle towards it and turn back and repeat this circle, turn, circle, turn over and over. If you keep his feet moving and get him thinking about something else, approaching and retreating from the spooky object, he'll soon realize that whatever it is he's fearful of is not the horse-eating monster he assumed it was.

Question: My horse won't stand still when I mount him. I've tried everything, but short of having someone hold him (and even then he moves a step or two), nothing works. Help!

Clinton Anderson: You have a lack-of-respect problem and your horse is not paying attention, because he doesn't feel that he has to. Each time he goes to walk away, step down and back him up fast. Get him thinking back-up, not forward. Practice a dozen times just getting on and off. When you do get on, just flex him right and left for 3-4 minutes minimum. Teach him that just because you're getting on does not mean you're going somewhere. Get him respectful, listening and paying attention!

Question: Is there a way to make bridling more pleasant for my horse? He raises his head, refuses to open his mouth, and otherwise complicates the process. How can I cure this?

Clinton Anderson: This is actually a very extensive topic, but, in brief, you need to teach the horse first to lower his face by applying pressure at the poll and rewarding the slightest try until your horse reliably lowers his head. Step two is to desensitize your horse to the sight and touch of the bridle by rubbing the bit and bridle all over. Last, you teach your horse to open his mouth when you put your thumb in the side of his mouth, again by rewarding the slightest try. The combination of these three separate training elements will then allow you to ask your horse to lower his head, open his mouth and accept the bit calmly.

Be sure to watch Clinton's weekly television show on RFD-TV-Dish Network Channel 9409 or Direct TV Channel 379.