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Downunder Fundamentals

After getting bucked off our friend’s horse, Cochise (see “Be Ready For the Ride”), I began searching for someone who could help me train horses better. I found several well-known trainers who hold clinics, but one in particular stood out for his down-to-earth explanations of the exercises. So I joined Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship and the “No Worries Club”.  Clinton breaks the training exercises down into easy to remember steps by using little sayings and phrases.  While studying these, I thought they’d make a pretty good poem, so I wrote this poem and posted it on the No Worries Club forum online. They liked it so much, it was published in the NWC Journal (Winter 2011 edition).

Downunder Fundamentals

If you’ve ever attempted to train a horse,
It can be quite hard, like a graduate course.
Let Clinton Anderson instruct you my friends
‘Cause “Frustration begins where knowledge ends”.

His sayings are simple, they cut to the chase:
“Keep the horse out of your hula hoop space.”
This lesson is key, for your training to thrive,
“You must do it safely, and first stay alive.”

To succeed with your horse, and for the best result,
“Make the right thing easy, and the wrong, difficult.”
If you run into to trouble with a stubborn ol’ mare,
“Establish a starting point, then build from there.”

When your horse won’t respond, turn up the heat.
“A horse learns respect by moving his feet.”
A pushy horse may try anything he chooses,
Just remember this: “Whoever moves first, loses!”

In training, a horse may just show you his rear,
With the Downunder Method, there’s nothing to fear.
“Two eyes are always better than two heels.”
When they learn that lesson, how good it feels.

Never forget to “work both sides when you train”,
“When you work a new side, you work a new brain.”
“Keep them moving, forward, backward, left and right
And always reward even the slightest try.”

“Feel is knowing how much pressure you need,
But timing is crucial for the horse to succeed.”
So just in case you need a refresher,
“A horse learns best from the release of pressure.”

Technique is important, “Point, Cluck and Spank”
For making it easy, we’ve got Clinton to thank!
Or “Slide, Stab, and Step” for the desired effect,
When teaching your horse to lunge for respect.

“As gently as possible, but as firm as necessary”
Gets your point across without being scary.
Whenever you train, as you give your commands
“Exaggerate to teach, refine as he understands.”

The drive line is key in avoiding mistakes,
“Gas pedal and clutch”, or “steering and brakes”?
And once in a while you may improvise,
but “Never forget to desensitize.”

So thank you Clinton, for keeping us inspired
and know that Downunder is really admired
by all who would seek to train our horse better
as we follow your Method down to the letter.