Ever wondered what a day-in-the-life of a top horse professional is like? Ever wish you were a fly on the wall of an indoor at a top trainer’s barn? At Trafalgar Square Books, we’re asking our top authors to give us the blow-by-blow, nitty-gritty of what it’s really like to “be them” on a regular ole day, so we can live out our own equestrian fantasies just a little more clearly, and appreciate their commitment to the horses and horse sports we love just a little more honestly.
In honor of the 10-Year Anniversary of one of TSB’s all-time bestselling books, Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship: Establish Respect and Control for English and Western Riders, we’re kicking off a new blog series with 24 hours in the life of Clinton himself.
And WOW, we thought publishing made for long days! We’ve got nothin’ on this guy! Take a moment to walk a day in his boots and you’ll appreciate why Downunder Horsemanship has grown into an internationally recognized and respected brand and Method of horse training.
A normal day for Clinton Anderson…
3:00 a.m. Wake up and get dressed. [Editor’s note: Yes, you read that correctly three in the morning.]
3:30 a.m. Train my two- and three-year-old performance horses. These are horses I have bred and raised at the ranch. They’re in training to be reiners or working cow horses. One of my top reining prospects this year is Pluto, a two-year-old colt, registered with the AQHA as Instant Upgrade. He is by Cromed Out Mercedes, an NRBC Futurity champion out of Princess in Diamonds with lifetime earnings over $146,000. Pluto’s dam, Nic N Smart, by Reminic, was one of my favorite show horses, having won all three divisions (Limited, Intermediate and Open) of the Ohio Valley Reining Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity with me in 2006.
6:00 a.m. Go back to the house and eat breakfast. I mostly eat bacon and eggs.
6:30 a.m. Head back to the barn to train more of my two- and three-year-old performance horses.
9:00 a.m. I hand my last horse over to my barn manager Katie Kelch and then head to the large outdoor arena to teach my Academy students. They’re each training horses, so not only am I concerned about making sure they’re learning the information I need them to, but I also want to be sure the horses are progressing through the program at a good pace. I generally start with 10 to 12 Academy students at the start of the program in June and end up with three or four outstanding individuals who actually graduate the program to become one of my certified clinicians. My clinicians are not only outstanding horsemen and instructors, but they each possess the four core values of Downunder Horsemanship: They are loyal, hard-working, ambitious, and personable. Because I’m in the people-training business, I place as much, if not more, emphasis on those core values as I do on an individual’s horsemanship ability.
12:00 p.m. I head up to the house to grab a quick lunch. Lunch is usually something rich in protein. Then I take a shower and change into clean clothes to head into the office in town. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the ranch to the office. (I’m known for my lead foot and keep a careful eye out for the local policemen!)
1:00 p.m. I’m in the office daily from about one in the afternoon until six every night. When I walk through the doors of Downunder Horsemanship, I make a quick round of the office, greeting all of my teammates and checking to see if anyone needs anything from me. Then it’s down to business.
To keep things simple and to keep myself from getting bogged down in details, I have three whiteboards in my office. I use one board to “spitball” ideas (a lot of Downunder Horsemanship innovations start here as my chicken scratch), another to keep track of the tasks I’m working on, and a third to follow the projects of the employees I directly manage.
As the president of the company, I have four main job duties:
- Support my managers and employees.
- Train and coach my employees.
- Hold employees accountable to deadlines and commitments.
- Maintain the culture and inspire the team to move forward.
My management technique is to let my employees do their jobs. I don’t micromanage. In fact, if I feel like I have to micromanage an employee or have to constantly be tapping him or her on the shoulder, I don’t keep that employee around. I have to trust that when someone tells me he or she will get the job done, it’ll get done. I realized a long time ago in my career that I don’t need to be the smartest guy in the company; I just have to be smart enough to surround myself with the smartest people I can afford.
I respond to A LOT of emails. In fact, emails take up the majority of my day in the office.
Because my name is on the door, I feel it’s important that I review everything that is produced at Downunder Horsemanship. That means I watch every club DVD, television show, and DVD series, and I proofread all articles and training materials. It’s crucial to me that my customers get the right information in the easiest-to-understand format.
6:00 p.m. By six, I’m ready to call it a day at the office. Before heading out the door, I make one last round, making sure no one needs anything from me before I leave. However, I always have my cell phone on me and my employees know that they can contact me whenever they need to. In fact, we have a saying around here: “You don’t always get your way, but you always get your say.” I’ll hear anybody out, and while it doesn’t mean I’ll implement their idea, they are always encouraged to tell me their thoughts.
6:30 p.m. When I get home after a day in the office, I’m beat. To unwind, I often head out to the back of the house where I’ve set up a swing next to the pool. Some nights (well, okay, I’ll be honest, most nights!), I pour myself a Captain Morgan and Coke and chill out.
7:00 p.m. Depending on the time of year, I like to grill for dinner. My favorite meal is grilled lamb chops from Omaha Steak House.
7:30 p.m. Then I watch horse training DVDs to keep educating myself. Right now, I’m watching lessons I had filmed of me working with my mentor, Ian Francis. I find that I pick up on extra tidbits by going back and watching the lessons over and over again. I especially pay attention to Ian and the subtle ways he’s cueing the horses.
9:00 p.m. I try my best to get to bed at a reasonable hour so that I’m ready for another full day. I find I have to have at least seven hours of sleep to function worth a crap the next day, so that’s why I try hard to be in bed no later than nine. In fact, I prefer to be in bed by 8:30, if possible!
And then there are the not-so-normal days…
Days when I have no other commitments besides working in the office are pretty straightforward, but those days are few and far between for me. Because I’m the face of Downunder Horsemanship, I’m a key part to most projects and have to be available for filming and photo shoots, and of course teaching clinics and doing tours. Most days involve some really creative schedule juggling to fit everything in.
Clinics: When I’m teaching a clinic, I’m with the participants from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., or whenever the clinic ends for the day. Sometimes when I really get into a lesson, the day ends a little later than five. When a clinic is going on, I lean heavily on my managers to pick up the slack for me because I can’t be in the office daily. Luckily, I have a great team that does a phenomenal job.
Tours: When I’ve got a Walkabout Tour, I usually leave Stephenville on a Thursday to arrive at the venue a day-and-a-half before the show starts. I use that time to meet with sponsors and other business associates, work my horse Diez, and catch up on work. On Saturday and Sunday, I’m on from 8:30 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening. I catch a short break for lunch on both days, but other than that, I’m either in the arena explaining the Method or answering people’s horse training questions. Then I spend the majority of Monday in airports, on planes, and in the car returning to the ranch. It makes for a long weekend, but sharing the Method with horse owners and seeing some of my biggest fans makes it all worthwhile.
Photo Shoots: I have to be ready to go in front of the camera at dawn when lighting is the best. Often times, we’ll start shooting early in the morning and then break around ten in the morning and pick it back up at four in the afternoon when good lighting returns. The days can be long, but I’m fortunate to have one of the best equine photographers working for me. His skill behind the camera definitely keeps Downunder Horsemanship at the forefront of providing the best instruction and inspiring horsemen to reach their dreams.
Filming: Creating material for television shows and DVDs consumes a third of my year. Some filming is done at the ranch, but the majority of shows are taped on location. I might be a natural in front of the camera, but my team works hard to make sure I look my best on film and get my points across clearly. At most filming sessions, we have three cameras rolling and a sound technician on hand. And, just like when I am in the office, I’m hands-on at filming and photo shoots as well, making sure the important details of a lesson are captured.
Clinton’s endless energy and amazing attention to detail brought his Method to the hands of horse lovers in his seminal book CLINTON ANDERSON’S DOWNUNDER HORSEMANSHIP. To order your copy of the 10th Anniversary Special Edition, CLICK HERE NOW.