Build a Strong Foundation at Home First

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clinton andersonEver notice that when you take your horse away from home, half of the horse is yours and the other half is a horse you wish you’d never met? He is whinnying, dancing around, pawing, shying and spooking.

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He’s paying attention to everything around him but you. If this scenario has happened to you, you are not alone. Everything about your horse’s behavior and training gets worse when you take him away from home because he is more distracted in a new environment. So if your horse is misbehaving at home or if his training is lacking, believe me, he’s really going to misbehave when you take him farther away from home to a show or if you haul him somewhere to trail ride.

People ask me all the time, “My horse takes off with me whenever we go away from home, he shies, he bucks, he rears, etc. What can I do to fix his behavior?” The answer is simple, but not what people want to hear: It all comes down to a lack of foundation. Put a solid foundation on your horse at home first and 90 percent of the problems you experience when you haul him away from home will take care of themselves or will be very easy fixes. That foundation is made up of the groundwork and riding exercises in the Fundamentals Series that are designed to earn your horse’s trust and respect and establish a clear line of communication between the two of you.

Trying to fix a specific problem with a horse that lacks a basic foundation of respectful behavior is like trying to build a house on a concrete slab that is chipped, broken and set at an angle. Even if you do get the house built, it’s not going to be safe. It’s going to start falling down in pieces. You can keep patching the pieces together and nailing more boards up to fill in the holes, but the house will continue to fall down.

The foundation – teaching your horse the Fundamentals and earning his respect – is everything. Spend time putting a strong foundation of groundwork on your horse and you will find that most behavior problems no longer exist, and the ones that are still present can be fixed even more easily because your foundation gives you the tools you need to get the job done.

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