Sweeten Up Your Arena Sour Horse

When you’re working with an arena-sour horse, don’t think, “How can I make the horse get in the arena?” Think, “How can I make it uncomfortable for him not to go in the arena?” You’ll do that by working the horse hard where he wants to be (outside the arena) and letting him rest where you want him to be (in the arena). You’ll do the complete opposite of what he is expecting.

Using one rein at a time to direct him, you’ll work the horse hard hustling his feet and constantly making him change directions. The more you change directions, the more he’ll use the thinking side of his brain. Make him hustle his feet and give him a reason to want to go in the arena and relax.

Work the horse for 5 to 10 minutes away from the arena and then take him into the arena and let him rest. In the beginning, you might only be able to bring the horse within 90 feet of the arena, which is normal. Your first goal is establishing a starting point, and then you can work on increasing your horse’s comfort being in the arena. While the horse is resting, rub him and give him a chance to catch his breath. After letting him rest for 5 minutes, go back to working him away from the arena again.

Each time you work the horse, you’ll take him back to your original starting point – the place he wants to be. And each time you let him rest, you’ll bring him closer to the arena.

When you let the horse rest, drape the reins down his neck and dare him to move. If he wants to move, let him. Take him back to where you were working him and hustle his feet again. Instead of sitting on the horse and saying, “Don’t go!” let him move, and then offer him the chance to stand still and relax. The key to this exercise is that you have to give the horse a reason to want to be in the arena and to relax.

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.