A great trail horse is no accident; he’s been trained to do his job well. Just because a horse rides well in the arena doesn’t mean he’ll be the same calm, respectful and responsive partner on the trail. The reason for that is because the elements drastically change when you take your horse out of the arena.
The arena is what I call a controlled environment. You’ve got four walls around you and the environment stays pretty much the same. You can basically control what happens inside those walls. If the horse does spook or bolt, he can’t run 10 miles down the road; he’ll eventually be stopped by a fence.
The trail, on the other hand, is an uncontrolled environment. The environment is always changing and you can’t predict all that might happen. A kid could come racing his bike around a bend in the trail, joggers could run up behind you, a deer could jump out of the brush … the possibilities are endless. On the trail, you are at the mercy of the environment, and your horse’s ability to calmly and safely handle whatever situation presents itself relies on his having a solid foundation of training and you being an effective leader.
I never start a horse’s training on the trail; I teach him the Fundamentals in a controlled environment like an arena. I set him up for success and ensure I have basic control of him before taking him into an uncontrolled environment. As a general rule, anything your horse does in the arena will be worse outside of it. He’s going to be edgier, spookier and more reactive on the trail.
Someone usually says, “But, Clinton, I don’t have an arena to train my horse in.” My pushback is: If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. If you really want your horse to be a great riding partner – one that’s safe and respectful – you’ll find a way to help him succeed. Does that mean you might have to find a boarding stable with an arena to board your horse at for 30 days or so? Yes. Will you maybe have to drive 45 minutes every day to go work with him? Yes. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. - Clinton #ApplyTheMethod #clintonanderson #downunderhorsemanship #horsesofinstagram