Juliane Dykiel's Horsemanship Blog

Training tip from Clinton Anderson: Keep it simple

By Hadrien Dykiel

One of the most effective ways to train your horse is keeping things simple. One way that I do this with my horses is by teaching them one principle at a time. For example, I will teach a young horse how squeezing means go forward before I introduce the opening rein. In other words, I teach my young horses the principle of speed before teaching them about direction, instead of trying to teach them both at the same time. I’ve found that breaking down your exercises and taking it step by step will actually help your horse learn much more quickly.

Keeping it simple is a training principle that Clinton Anderson stresses. Here an interesting post from his blog:

“Horses are very smart, but they are simple creatures. I put horses mentally in the same age group as six year old kids. Six year olds are very smart, they catch on quickly, but they are very simple. For example, I get people asking me all the time when teaching a horse the Cruising Lesson that shouldn’t I be worried he’s on the wrong lead? That he has his head in the air? No, I’m not. The horse has been loping around in the pasture on the wrong lead all his life; cantering around on a loose rein for three days isn’t going to hurt him. First he has to learn maintain the speed and direction I set him at, and then we can work on leads. Don’t get hung up on the details initially. Keep it basic. When you keep it simple, horses progress very quickly.

Also keep in mind you can’t teach a horse fifteen lessons all in the same day and expect him to remember them all and do well. You don’t teach a kid the alphabet, how to write, how to spell his name, write a sentence and read all in the same session. First you teach him the alphabet and when he’s good at that, then you move on. When you take your time and build on each lesson, they catch on quickly. But if you confuse them by throwing too much information at them, they shut down on you. Your horse is the same way. You have to break the information down for him so that he understands what you’re asking him to do.”

You can visit Clinton Anderson’s blog at

Go out there and keep it simple!


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