Training Tip With Clinton Anderson: Use The Halter as a Desensitizing Tool

Written by Clinton Anderson

Most horses balk at the sight of their owner coming to the pasture with halter in hand because more than likely, they’re going to be taken to the barn, thrown in the cross-ties and saddled up.

It doesn’t take long for horses to associate the halter with hard work and sweat. You need to prove to your horse that just because you come to the pasture with the halter, you’re not necessarily going to make him work hard. Keep in mind that horses are lazy creatures; they’ll always choose the option with the least amount of work involved.

One of the simplest ways to fix a hard-to-catch horse problem is to desensitize the horse to the presence of the halter. You’ll do that by rubbing and scratching the horse’s body with the halter any time you come into the pasture. So every time you enter the pasture to feed your horse, dump the feed and then get busy rubbing his body down with the halter. Don’t be sneaky with the halter and try to hide it from the horse. Instead keep it in plain sight and be very obvious with it. As you’re rubbing and scratching all over his body, keep an eye out for his itchy spots where he likes being scratched. On most horses this is usually where the withers start to join the neck or along the crest of the neck. The more you can get the horse to associate the halter with pleasant feelings, the better.

About Clinton Anderson

Born and raised in Australia, Clinton grew up with a love of horses. Although he lived in the city with his father, Rob, mother, Cheryl, and sister, Andrea, he looked forward to the weekends he got to spend on his grandparent’s farm where his grandmother would give him rides on her old Thoroughbred mare. By the age of 12, he began playing polocrosse and was eventually chosen for a national team representing his state. In 2001, he became the first clinician to create a made-for-TV horse training program that aired on RFD-TV.

The use of untrained horses and a variety of topics covering common problems faced by horse owners quickly made Downunder Horsemanship the network’s number one equine program. Nearly 15 years after establishing Downunder Horsemanship, Clinton continues to instruct horsemanship clinics, presents Walkabout Tours across the country, produces two television shows, hosts an internet TV website and is constantly creating comprehensive study kits and training tools to make learning horsemanship as accessible and easy as possible. Clinton and Downunder Horsemanship are recognized as world leaders in the equestrian industry and continue to offer the very best in innovation, inspiration and instruction.