I've seen your posts about it before, but have never fully understood. Why do you dislike Clinton Anderson so much? I dont ask to start anything, I really want to know b/c I dont want to teach something bad for my horses. I currently go to an equine college, and it's considered one of the best programs in our state, but the vast majority of what we are taught are Clinton Anderson methods. I just want to make sure im not being lead into believing things that are harmful.
Theres quite a few reasons as to why I dislike Clinton Anderson, but first id like to start off by mentioning what I do like about him. CA posts hours footage on youtube, free for everyone to see. You can very easily pick of the basics of his method by watching his videos. For a salesman who’s trying to sell a product, thats pretty neat, especially for people like me who love trying to figure out different trainer’s philosophies without paying a dime for something that actually may not be worth it. His videos get pretty detailed. You don’t just see the good parts that make him look good. You get the bad parts and the ugly parts, and its these situations that can really say a lot about a trainer. Its easy to like a trainer that only shows footage of themselves in good moments or photos from the best angles. But what about those bad moments where something goes wrong? How does the trainer behave? Well, we know how Clinton Anderson behaves for sure.
Ive posted lots of gems highlighting why I dislike what he does. In this video, a spooky horse is flooded with an anxiety inducing stimulus and tries to escape. CA continues to flood the horse with pressure until the horse is exhausted realizes that he has no choice but to settle down and stay put. He then mistakes the horses behavior for “calmness” when the horse is in a lather and his blowing very hard. Perfect example of learned helplessness. Also, take note of how dangerous it is to continue to put pressure on a very fearful horse. Imagine if that horse decided to fight rather than run?
In this video, a blind horse is having a hard time backing up. Instead of standing beside the horse and gently asking for a back up using direct pressure on the halter, CA goes right into whipping the horse in the chest for not reacting to a stimulus he never got the chance to learn (rope wiggle). Instead of learning to associate a rope wiggle with gentle pressure on the noseband, he learns to react to the wiggle in order to avoid getting whipped.
Clinton Anderson’s method is very attractive to newbie horse owners or people who struggle with using negative reinforcement. This is because he preaches a “black and white” style philosophy. “The horse must listen to me and if he doesn’t, I’m going either add more pressure or punish him for it”. Thats an authoritarian style of horse-human interaction and it creates robot horses who obey all orders simply because they what to avoid unpleasant stimuli. If the horse doesn’t move, make him. If the horse doesn’t give to the bit, make him. If the horse doesn’t bend around my leg, make him. I personally dislike that and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I trained in that manner.
If you watch his recent video of him riding his 2 year old Titan (theres also a full 40 min. video of him riding various other 2 year olds), you’ll notice that he’s already got the horse bent at the poll (more like hyperflexed at the poll), yielding the shoulders, yielding the hindquarters, bending in both directions, and even flying lead changes. He goes on and on about wanting his horses to be flexible, supple, and soft. If the horse doesn’t offer these feeling to him, the horse gets a kick in the ribs or a yank in the mouth. Tell me, does that sound like art to you? Its a two year old, a baby horse, and he’s asking for all these concepts that should be build over many YEARS with slow, gentle, systematic training. Horsemanship to me is an art form, and it demands understanding, patience, and respect for the horse. From the extensive footage I’ve seen, Clinton Anderson is NOT practicing an art. Is he successful? yep. Can he train horses really well? sure thing. But because it works, is it right?