Beating The Spook On The Trail

Warm Up With Groundwork. Before hitting the trail, be sure your horse is in the right frame of mind, meaning he’s calm, using the thinking side of his brain and focused on you.

Most of the time, horses spook because they’re fresh and using the reactive side of their brain. Don’t just pull your horse out of the pasture, throw the saddle on him and head out on the trail. Set yourself up for success by practicing groundwork and reminding your horse that you are the leader and he needs to respect you and let you call the shots.

If you’re at home, practice groundwork exercises like Lunging for Respect Stage Two, the C-Pattern, Sidepassing, etc. in the arena. If you’ve trailered your horse somewhere for a ride, find an open area where you can get his feet moving and changing directions. Remember, in order to get a horse to respect you and use the thinking side of his brain, you have to move his feet forwards, backwards, left and right. The more you ask the horse to change directions, the quicker you’ll get his attention. The entire time that you’re working with the horse on the ground, he should be hustling his feet. Don’t just let him lazily jig-jog around. You want to get rid of any freshness he might have before taking him out on the trail.

About Clinton Anderson
Born and raised in Australia, Clinton grew up with a love of horses. Although he lived in the city with his father, Rob, mother, Cheryl, and sister, Andrea, he looked forward to the weekends he got to spend on his grandparent’s farm where his grandmother would give him rides on her old Thoroughbred mare. By the age of 12, he began playing polocrosse and was eventually chosen for a national team representing his state.
In 2001, he became the first clinician to create a made-for-TV horse training program that aired on RFD-TV. The use of untrained horses and a variety of topics covering common problems faced by horse owners quickly made Downunder Horsemanship the network’s number one equine program. Nearly 15 years after establishing Downunder Horsemanship, Clinton continues to instruct horsemanship clinics, presents Walkabout Tours across the country, produces two television shows, hosts an internet TV website and is constantly creating comprehensive study kits and training tools to make learning horsemanship as accessible and easy as possible. Clinton and Downunder Horsemanship are recognized as world leaders in the equestrian industry and continue to offer the very best in innovation, inspiration and instruction.