by SUSAN MORRISON
The gates of clinician Clinton Anderson’s ranch in Stephenville, Texas—adorned with the kangaroo that signifies the Australian native’s business, Downunder Horsemanship—are not usually open to the public. In the past, only clinic participants and other invited guests have gained entrance. But September 5–7, Anderson offered a clinic and invited spectators to join in. As the 22 riders in the clinic learned how to improve their ground work and riding skills, 247 spectators set up their lawn chairs and surrounded the arena so they could also pick up tips to improve their horsemanship.
“At no other time during the year is the ranch open to the public unless you are participating in a clinic, and watching a clinic is a great learning experience,” Anderson says. “Nowhere else can you watch such a diverse group of people and horses trying to accomplish the same goals. You see what people are doing right and wrong, and the fixes they are given. One horse might be hot and reactive, and another might be dull and lazy. One person might have really great feel and timing, and another could be a novice just learning the ropes of horsemanship. The opportunities to learn are endless, no matter what level of horsemanship you’re at yourself.”
Anderson gave several demonstrations during the three-day event. On the first morning, he used his extensive obstacle course to work horses and show how the obstacles can increase responsiveness and trust.
“The obstacle course tends to be at the top of everyone’s list of things to see at the ranch,” he says.
That evening, Anderson worked with weanlings and yearlings to explain his program for young horses and how it affects their future.
On Saturday, he showed off a few of his 2-year-old performance prospects before the clinic started. The following morning, he led a walking tour of the ranch. Anyone interested was invited to attend a viewing of Anderson’s trained performance horses following the end of the clinic at 5 p.m.
Anderson says the feedback from those attending was overwhelmingly positive.
“Getting to go behind the scenes of the ranch is rating as most people’s favorite experience about the whole deal,” he says. “I hope everyone who came to the clinic learned something, had fun and got to see more of what makes Downunder Horsemanship [what it is].”
And for those who missed it, this fall’s clinic won’t be the last opportunity to go behind the gates.
“Due to the success and positive feedback we’ve received, we plan on opening the ranch once a year to the public,” Anderson says. “We’re already working on next year’s event, which will not be centered around a clinic but will include a variety of training demonstrations on topics that are more advanced, and that I’ve never discussed before a live crowd.”
Details on the event will be released after the first of the year, he adds. For information, visit downunderhorsemanship.com.