Trainer Profile - Clive Johnson
Q. How long have you worked professionally with horses, and why?
A. Change, they say, is constant. For me, it all started 2 years ago when life dealt me a card that I didn’t expect.
After spending many years travelling around America watching many Buck clinics, working in the background (on the ground) with horses, and also marketing a business for my now ex-wife…I had to start it all again for myself, from the ground up.
I looked at the Market, and found that there were lots of clinicians that did ridden and ground work. It became apparent that so many of my previous business clients had trouble hacking out with their horses. Also, the idea of tackling obstacles, rather than just walking down a road, was out of the question. So the idea for Equestrian Fun Days was born.
The problem with most trekking services is that they rely on roads and preordained tracks through a tame wood, or essentially, a garden path. Horses need a real environment in which to grow. Originally, I started with typical obstacles that clients may have encountered before (e.g. Teeter Totter Bridge), but over time this developed into more unusual challenges. So I started to look at it from a different perspective: worst case scenarios. What if there was a fire, a tunnel of smoke or higher bridges? Then over time, the imagination runs wild and you begin to create obstacles that would really push both the horse and the handler to become better than they are. I now have a full training facility for owner and horses to come to. We also introduced a new onsite extreme Mountain trail and Groundwork clinics. We have now opened a western tack shop on site, and set up a new side business called ‘Authentic Cowboy Camps’, where you come with your horse and live like a cowboy for the weekend, and learn more about horsemanship.
Q. Who do you take inspiration from?
A. Well, lots of trainers will say, the likes of Buck Branaman or Ray Hunt. I have had the pleasure of riding alongside a lot of fantastic trainers, such as Buck, Jaton, Joe and Buster. In America, the highlight of mine was being able to ride in the Legacy of Legends for the last 2 years and hopefully again in 2019. However, the trainer that gives me the most inspiration is Brent Graef. I did a halter starting clinic last year with real untouched foals, and this was the most humbling thing I have ever done. I have booked to go back again in March. Also, Shayn from the McGinnis Cattle Ranch in Montana inspires me. I am going back out to Montana for November, then down to Dallas, Texas to ride with Brent in December, and then back home to the UK for Christmas.
Q. How do I describe my Techniques?
A. I never state a time for training, as it takes time, patience, consistency, and also softness and timing. We do get it wrong from time to time, so being humble is a virtue.
Q. What do you enjoy most about working with horses?
A. With working around the country with Equestrian Fun Days, I meet up to 40 horses in a weekend and seeing the change in the horses and the handler. It is so nice to see how happy they both become, and helping them to understand that there is another way for them to get things right.
Q. What is your top tip for horse owners?
A. Breathe, patience, consistency, and make time for you both. Never rush, although in such a busy lifestyle we have, it is increasingly getting harder to find the time.
Q. What is your favourite Quote?
A. Well there lots out there…my favourite is one of Joe Wolter’s quotes, “it’s the darkest hour before sunrise”, and my second one is, “If you ask a question and get the wrong answer, you have asked the question wrong”.
Q. How do you define Horsemanship?
A. It’s all about working together with your horse, not dictating to them. They say, “get to the horses’ feet through the mind”, but actually it’s both, “get to the horses’ mind through the feet”. When you get a hold of the lead rope, you need to become one. If a horse can see in pictures and can read your soul, then we need to give it a book to read every time we hold a lead rope or the reins.