Discovering Horsemanship

Jeff was born into a family of horse lovers—both of his parents ride horses and family trail rides were common occurrences while Jeff was growing up. “Our horses weren´t fancy—they were just backyard pets, but we put a lot of miles on them going on trail rides and overnight camping trips,” he says.

When he was 13, he took on his first training project, a 4-year-old mare that hadn´t been started. “I didn´t have the faintest idea of what I was doing,” Jeff says. At that point, his horsemanship education was basic. “We just got on and rode our horses. My parents taught me basic skills, like how to stop and turn the horse, but other than that, we didn´t have any training knowledge,” he explains.

Standing in a roundpen with a 4-year-old mare that had spent her life turned out in a pasture, Jeff quickly found his knowledge lacking. A family friend loaned him a copy of Clinton´s “Feel the Difference” VHS tape. “I picked up some basic groundwork exercises from the series and researched other clinicians to help me start the mare,” Jeff says, but he kept coming back to Clinton and the Method. “I had a huge collection of all kinds of horsemanship books and tapes from clinicians. I settled on Clinton because he was just easier to follow.”

He went to his first Walkabout Tour in 2009 and was a spectator at Clinton´s three-day clinic in Ocala, Florida, the same year. During the course of the tour, Jeff was surprised to learn that Clinton offered a certification program to become a clinician. A few months later, at the clinic, he watched Professional Clinician Shana Terry, who had just earned her certification, in action and knew he wanted to pursue a career as an instructor of the Method. “Up until that point, my plan was to become a horse trainer, but I hadn´t realized you could make a career out of teaching people the Method. When I realized that was a possibility, I knew it was what I wanted to do,” Jeff says.

He´d already established a small business training horses, and with the support of his family and good friends, he applied to the Academy after he graduated high school. After participating in a Fundamentals Clinic and learning that he´d been accepted into the Academy, Jeff returned home to Florida and worked as many horses as he could before he officially began the grueling program. “I had talked to some of the Certified Clinicians at a tour I was at and they said that the best way I could prepare for the Academy was to work as many horses as I could get my hands on,” Jeff says. “I wanted to do everything I could to give the Academy my best shot.”