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Downunder horsemanship clinic teaches owners, horses

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FINLEY POINT —  The paint mare faced Justin Freter’s back, her sides heaving as she caught her breath. Freter said he turned his back so she didn’t feel like a prey animal.

Freter, a clinician for Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship, was conducting a private clinic for a group of six horse owners.

One of only three people to graduate from the Clinton Anderson Academy in 2013, Freter spent 70 weeks on Anderson’s ranch in Stephensville, Texas, working with horses and perfecting his knowledge of Anderson’s Method. 

Anderson is dedicated, according to the Clinton Anderson website at, to be the best horseman he can be and to help people have better relationships with their horses. 

Each horse and owner worked with Freter on groundwork in the round pen, meaning the owner kept the animal’s attention and cued it to go at a lope, turn and reverse direction. 

Barb Reber’s Arabian paint cross mare didn’t like to lope around the pen, and Robert Robinson’s rose grey Arabian filly liked to run.

Freter schooled the group in how to use “the stick and string,” a whip that makes noise as it’s popped to get their horse to work, whether it was to go faster or to gather itself for a smooth turn. 

When horse and owner performed satisfactorily, Freter had them halter their horse and flip the soft cotton halter rope to accustom them to the rope touching their offside, belly and feet.  

Freter’s clinic is just one way the informal group connects, and they’re looking for more members. They want to form a horse club for adults who have horses, whatever the breed.

“One of our biggest goals is to teach you to work with your horse safely,” Robinson said. 

The club members want to enjoy their horses, promote better horsemanship, go on outings, and “enjoy ourselves.” 

Their regular meeting is the first Thursday of each month. 

For more information, contact Robert Robinson at (406) 887-2259, Scott Branson, (406) 407-6078 or Barb Reber, Columbia Falls, (406) 892-5955.


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