As his passion for horsemanship took hold and his feel and timing increased, Jake began training horses for the public. “I learned quickly that it’s not so much the results you can personally get with a horse, it’s how well you can get the owner to interact with their horse. My weaknesses in the teaching aspect of horsemanship became really clear and apparent to me,” Jake says. “At that point, I began researching various apprenticeships in the industry, including the Clinician Academy.”
Attending several Walkabout Tours and Downunder Horsemanship events, Jake made a point to speak with horsemen who were successful in the Clinician Academy. “Interacting with them and seeing them work with horses solidified that it was a legitimate program and I wanted to be like them. From that point on, it was my goal to come down to the Academy,” Jake says.
He completed the first nine weeks of training to be certified as a Method Ambassador in the summer of 2015 and was invited by Clinton to continue the program to work toward becoming a Certified Clinician. As a Certified-Clinician-in-training, Jake worked four horses a day and focused on fine-tuning his feel and timing and his all-around knowledge of the Method. “While you’re in the program, your knowledge and ability as a horseman are tested on a daily basis. You’ve got several horses to work with at any one time. In that group of horses, you might have one that’s lazy and one that’s hot-blooded. You’re getting exposed to all types of personalities and breeds, and Clinton and his clinicians are there to help you understand what needs to be done with each horse,” Jake says. “The Method is what it is. Every horse can do it, but the way you might introduce an exercise or concept or tailor a lesson to suit a particular horse changes. You’ve got to be able to read what a horse needs and respond accordingly. I improved leaps and bounds in that area.”
He points to one horse in particular that helped him tremendously as a horseman. “I got a hot, nervous horse to work with and he exposed all of my major weaknesses as a horseman. That can be frustrating, but ultimately it was a good thing. I’ve struggled with those types of horses in the past, and I was fortunate to have Clinton help me during the process of training the horse. By the time I’d taken the horse through the six-week Fundamentals training program and invited his owner to the ranch to take a lesson, the horse had made great progress and his owner was very happy with him. It sank in after that experience that if I had that horse on my own, I would have been way out of my element. It highlighted how much Clinton had helped me improve as a horseman, and I knew that I was right where I needed to be, learning as much as I could,” Jake says.
If he had to sum up his experience at the ranch and the lessons he learned from Clinton, Jake says Clinton taught him to be a thinking horseman and polished his people skills. “Clinton is the best in the world at what he does in both his practical techniques and how he teaches horsemanship. Interacting with people wasn’t something I was naturally suited for because I’m more of an introvert. In the program, Clinton exposes you to the public and guides you on how to interact with customers to be successful,” Jake says. “Being in that environment vastly improved my skills.”