Friday, June 29, 2012

My Walkabout

Innovation, Inspiration, Instruction
Since it was my friend’s 60th year, we wanted to do something special. Various ideas were bantered about like seeing the Kentucky CRI, the Calgary Stampede, and Equine Affair. I had mentioned that I wanted to go see Clinton Anderson again – my mentor for effective  horsemanship, colt starting and now reining. We decided to go see The Clinton Anderson Walkabout Tour 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa. I’d never been there before and it seemed like a nice place to visit or walkabout. It would take us 2700km and 4 days round trip. It was certainly well worth the entry on my bucket list.

The first time I had seen Clinton was 10 years ago when he was a featured clinician at Can-Am in London. That started my journey on improving my horsemanship skills using his effective horsemanship methods. So, naturally part of the reason for this trip was as a professional update for me.

To quote his walkabout tour program: “The journey from being an unknown horse trainer in Australia to one of the most renowned clinicians in the world was not easy. The history behind Clinton Anderson and Downunder Horsemanship is inspiring. It chronicles the journey of a man who never lost sight of this dream: helping people have a better relationship with their horses.”

Teeny Tiny
The weather in Des Moines was lovely as I stood in the long No Worries Club member line up on Saturday morning being entertained by Teeny Tiny, the miniature. Teeny’s job is to hold the bundle of programs that are for sale. Over $9,000 worth of prizes are given away based on a number written on the back of the program. I had program # 9.

Whoever is on Clinton’s marketing team has done a fantastic job of organizing and planning his tours. Starting with a mere 200 people in his first Walkabout Tour, today there are over 3,000 people who attend. No Worries Club members – Clintons’ club that he started 5 years ago, were able to get their seating first. One of the impressive things you will notice when you go to one of his tours is that Clinton personally shakes everyone’s hand as they enter the door.

Saturday’s schedule started with Clinton talking about his philosophy and horse behaviour. “Your roadmap to achieving success, Clinton will explain the philosophy behind his Method. Prepare to see your horse in a whole new light as Clinton teaches you how to get inside its mind! Once you understand how your horse thinks, the communication lines between yourself and your horse will be clearer than ever before. Lucid and compelling, Clinton’s philosophy sets the foundation for even his most advanced training techniques”.

The 1st horse is introduced, Gus, a paint with disrespectful issues and being pushy. Here, Clinton then shows the crowd his round penning techniques to make the horse respectful again. Clinton uses local problem horses that he has never seen before to show how his Method works. There is always a disrespectful, pushy, lazy horse, a crazy, fearful horse and a horse with bad trailer loading issues.

To end the Saturday, Clinton gives an advanced riding demonstration on his famous horse Diez.
Clinton doing a demo on Diez

Sunday, I again am in the line up. We decided to get in the line up ½ hour earlier, yet we are further down the line than the day before. I guess everyone had the same idea! One privilege of being a No Worries Club member is the Q&A session early Sunday morning just for members. One of the questions I remember most is a veterinarian asking about how to do deal with horses that don’t like needles. Clinton is always entertaining the crowd.

Clinton starts off the 2nd day being introduced to Anna Belle, a Tennessee Walker, who is very frightened of most things. Clinton spends the morning showing how to desensitize a horse to scary objects to make them calmer and more cooperative. To quote the program: “Clinton continues with the Method as he increases the horse’s confidence, trust and respect. Watch as he gains control of the horse’s mind by moving his feet. You’ll be amazed to see the dramatic change a horse can make after only 1 day of practicing the Method. The transformation of this problem horse will give you the encouragement; inspiration and instruction you need to go home and immediately get positive results from your horse.”

Sunday afternoon is the riding portion of the weekend – Gaining Respect Under Saddle. Clinton, using the same horse as in the groundwork demonstrations, uses his training techniques called The Method to transform a horse from stiff, heavy and unwilling to soft, supple and cooperative.

The final part of the weekend is the “Trailer Troubles” section. This is always a very hilarious, entertaining piece where Clinton shows what not to do when loading your horse. The horse is actually taught to crave going into the trailer to get a break from rigorous training. It really works.

My friend wanted to leave just after lunch on Sunday. I could've just gone by to Texas with Clinton! It was going to be a long drive back and it was! 20 hours. As we were about to make our way out, the MC made an announcement that Clinton will have a new colt starting training series out in November.

Clinton signing my new colt starting saddle.
Well! I guess I know what I’m getting for Christmas!

“Putting my spin on education and effective horsemanship.”
@KISS Reiners

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