The Clinton Anderson Kerfuffle

There’s a big hullaballoo over some recent Clinton Anderson comments on a promotional training video. In social media comments and in several online blogs, both his horsemanship and his recorded comments are called to task. We agree with some commenters’ issues, like the concerns over hyperflexion and with asking such a young horse to train at this level. Research shows both elements are bad for the horse and have lasting negative effects. But we agree with Anderson when he cautions that nagging a horse with tiny reprimands buildsScreen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.45.50 AM resentment. Scroll down for links.

You can say one thing about Anderson: he sure is sure.

Meryl Streep had something to say about being sure. She commented on a character she portrayed in The Manchurian Candidate:

“I loved being someone so certain. Because certainty is just so attractive. It’s a completely bogus position because for me, I’m listening to every side. But it’s so nice not to have to listen to all the different sides…It’s a fabulous thing. Unfortunately, it leads to fanaticism.”

Say it ain’t so, Meryl. Confidence is sexy. Fans gravitate to confident “experts.” But again, research shows us that certainty and arrogance don’t allow for the necessary flow of new information. Leaders got lost in their own dogmatism. Read more about that here.

Sadly, you will find plenty of fanaticism in the horse world. And, despite Anderson’s off-the-hip comments and weaknesses, plenty of his fans go to great lengths to defend him. At BestHorsePractices, we try to be fair, but sometimes there are simply not two equal Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.44.30 AMand logical sides of an argument. In this case, a confident leader falls short.

On a more general note, we value scrutiny and open-mindedness. We ask first and always: Is it good for the horse? When reviewing expert horsemen, we value what some call an “ideology of doubt.” Is there another way? Can we assess the horse’s well-being in a given situation?

Or, as Rene Descartes said some 400 years ago, “If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things.”

Read this commentary of Clinton Anderson.

Read another blog on Anderson, Rollkur, and hyperflexion.

Read Anderson’s goofy take on horse brains (once there, scroll down).


Posted in Clinicians, Reviews and Links and tagged .


  1. Clinton, Amazing to me that you made these comments being in the people business. These comments are just mean spirited. It seems that anyone that challenges your manhood, horse or 15 year old boy needs for you to “beat the shit out of them”. I could hardly believe that you suggested that it would be good if “tree huggers” were killed by stallions so there would be less of these “idiots”.
    Regardless of the horse training it doesn’t seem that the relationship with people or horses is a priority. Not to be political but this feels like the Donald Trump of Horsemanship.

  2. WOW. I was left with a bad impression after seeing him flip a horse on RFDTV. Instead of investigating him I just completely avoided him. Thank you for this article, it is a big eye opener, I am going to make sure I avoid companies that endorse him.
    God bless the horses and everyone trying to give them a good deal,

  3. Great commentary, thank you for your succinct and tactful presentation of your views.

    I do wonder why you didn’t touch on his comments toward the female clients who line his pockets. I found all of his comments distasteful, but must say that his clear wish for death to those clients who “bug” him and his comments about beating the snot out of horses who do not abide by his training methods, were absolutely horrifying.

    I cannot understand why anyone, especially women, still hold him in high regard despite hearing these words and seeing his actions.
    I strongly urge anyone who does not agree with Mr. Anderson’s abusive methods and his misogynistic opinions, to write to his sponsors and let them know how you feel. I did.

  4. Yes, Clinton Anderson will soon be known as the Donald Trump of horsemanship. For sure. His fans will wallow in their cognitive dissonance and defend him as “really, he’s a good guy,” etc etc ad nauseum. He has issues which preclude him from being “a good guy” Butt raping? Beating teenagers? The anti-women comments? (really — sounding more and more like Trump!)
    C’mon, horse world. We’re better than this. And we haven’t even discussed the wretched riding on poor Titan.
    Thanks for this candid blog post. The world needs more of you and less of Clinton Anderson.

  5. Wake up people. You get in a round pen with a disrespectful 1200 pound horse. Go ahead I dare you. Now don’t forget to use your sweet voice and loving touch as you are looking up from being trampled into the dirt. I love my horses all 6 but none of them run me over. Face it people horses kick and bite each other harder than we can correct them with a stick and string. Clinton does not beat his horse’s. Have you not seen him explain to start tapping the air first. Tap the horse then tap harder and as soon as you get the slightest try, stop and rub. Maybe you need to watch a complete training session not short clips of something someone wants you to believe

  6. Clinton Anderson is known for using the timeless techniques of ‘beating the horse into submission’ and ‘gaining the upper hand through force and intimidation.’ He glosses this over with his Australian accent and intimidation of anyone who questions him. A truly great horseman who really cares about his horses.

  7. I have seen some many different methods of getting control of a horse – some OK, some sheer crap – but Clinton Anderson’s method seems to make the most sense to me. If you look at the horses he has trained, they don’t show fear – he applies the correct amount of pressure on a gradient (and that’s the important bit) until the horse understands what is required of it, and then complies.
    If you feel critical of Anderson’s methods, I would respectfully suggest you watch one of his FULL sessions. and listen to his explanation of what he does, and why.

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