Amy was in the fourth grade when her family got its first horse – a pony they picked up from a rescue. While the Keegels had no horse experience, they made up for their lack of knowledge with enthusiasm. They kept the pony at their neighbor’s barn, and Amy looked forward to their daily visit.
While she enjoyed taking care of the pony, at the time, her older sister was the diehard horse lover of the family. Amy didn’t get serious about horsemanship until she was in high school and got a horse of her own. Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t quite what she bargained for. “He was too much horse for me. I didn’t have the skill set to manage him,” Amy says.
Struggling with her new horse, Amy found a trainer in her Ohio neighborhood who used natural horsemanship techniques. Up until then, Amy’s education as a horseman had been picking up what she could from her older sister, who was an avid rider. When she began taking lessons from the trainer, he’d talk about clinicians and their training methods. After hearing the various names of clinicians being thrown around, Amy started researching them on the internet. “Clinton was one of the names mentioned, and when I began searching the internet, he had the most training information available,” Amy says.
She quickly connected with Clinton’s teaching style and the Method. “His program was very step by step and laid out well. With other trainers, it was a lot of ‘you might try this or you might try that.’ They didn’t have a set method to follow. I really appreciated how Clinton spelled everything out because it took the guesswork out of trying to work with my horse. That whole world of horsemanship opened up to me and changed my life,” Amy says.
The young horsewoman took the lessons she learned from studying the Method and put them into practice with her horse and saw results immediately. Her passion for horsemanship and the success she had with the Method eventually led her to securing a job as a trainer at a local horsemanship facility. The barn bought horses, retrained them and then sold the horses to the public. Amy trained the horses in her care using the Method, and was riding four to six horses a day. “Two of the other trainers at the barn were using the Method as well, so between us we pooled together and bought the training kits,” Amy says. “We helped each other study the information and get better with our feel and timing. I found that having a supportive group of horsemen around you can improve your skills drastically.”
The experience gave Amy the confidence to take in training horses of her own. She would buy horses at local sales, train them and then resell them. “Picking up horses at sale barns, you never know what you’re going to get because the horses come from everywhere and you don’t know their backgrounds,” Amy says, “and I started to run into problems that I didn’t know how to handle. I knew that there had to be answers out there, but I didn’t know them. When I was working with those horses, it was a lot of trial and error, and I was getting frustrated because I was at the end of my knowledge,” she says.
Fortunately for Amy, Clinton brought his Walkabout Tour to Columbus, Ohio, and she not only attended the event but made a point of visiting with the clinicians and asking them the training questions she had. “It blew me away how they knew exactly how to answer my questions and were so confident about their knowledge,” Amy says.
Ultimately, that experience led her to the Academy and the career she has today as a clinician. “I wanted to have that type of knowledge that Clinton and his clinicians have – to know what to do in any situation with a horse. The whole experience inspired me to become a better horseman and to keep adding to my skill set,” Amy says.