We spent this past Halloween weekend at Clinton Anderson's ranch in Stephenville, Tx for the first annual Ranch Rally. For two days, Clinton took the crowd through various training exercises using different horses that ranged in both age and skill. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty crappy all weekend, but his indoor area (which by the way is the vision of every horse owner's dream) was the perfect place to sit and absorb the lessons the man has spent a lifetime building his career upon.
From basic lunging skills to more advanced lessons using an obstacle course, Clinton provided the audience with an in depth preview into his method and ranch. We were able to inspect the grounds, ask questions, and get up close with both Clinton and his horses.
If nothing else, his ranch is a great place to get ideas for your own facility, especially the obstacle course. Exposing your horse to new things and helping him conquer the challenge confidently is an important part of the Down Under Horsemanship program. While his obstacle was professionally built, there is no reason why anyone couldn't replicate something similar at home with items they may have around the farm: tarps, tree limbs, gravel, dirt, rail road ties, water, fence posts, bricks...just to name a few. With a little elbow grease and creativity, any owner could build a training playground and begin exposing their horse to what they might encounter out on the trail in the real world.
What makes Down Under Horsemanship attractive to many people is that Clinton has broken down his training process into simple, easy to understand steps. He doesn't over teach and leave you wondering how the hell will I remember all this. Nor does he hide information about the how and why behind his approach. He is a meat and potatoes, stick to the basics kind of guy. He is not trying to convince you that his method is the best/only one or that the only way your horse can overcome his bad habits is to send him down to Stephenville for a couple of weeks. He is simply trying to educate owners on what works for him so that equestrians of any skill level can communicate with their horse and enjoy the ride.
Like all horse trainers, Clinton has received both positive and negative responses from the public. Like anything else in life, you can't please everyone. There will always be someone who doesn't agree with you and that's ok. I encourage people to take the lessons they need and leave the rest. It could be that you are drawn to several methods of training and blend them together into what works best for you and your horse. You might even come up with some of your own ways to effectively communicate with your horse. Clinton gave the analogy of getting to the city of Chicago. If look at Chicago on a map, there are many ways to get there. There's no one "right way" to get to Chicago.