Though Dale first learned of Clinton in 2005, his journey to the Method truly began when he became a horse owner nearly 30 years ago. When he got his first horse, a blind in one eye rescue case, Dale had no idea the challenges that horse ownership would bring. “Back then there was no such thing as groundwork. It was just get on and hang on – trial by error,” Dale says, which was all the more complicated with an equine partner that was blind in one eye. What that first experience taught him was the importance of establishing trust. “Even though he eventually went blind in both eyes, I was still able to trail ride him because he completely trusted me and I trusted him,” Dale says. “The importance of establishing trust is something that has stayed with me.”
Though horses came and went over the years, Dale’s passion for trail riding never wavered. While living on the East Coast, he explored the back country in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and when he moved to Colorado, his trail riding options were unlimited. He and his wife would often haul their horses to Yellow Stone National Park for two weeks at a time and explore the trails there. His passion for trail riding and discovering new country led him to join a local search and rescue organization in Colorado, which he’s now a sergeant of. It was with the organization that he experienced the first event that would ultimately lead him to Clinton.
To gain publicity and help the community, the search and rescue team volunteers its services at local events. Several years ago, Dale, astride his daughter’s Quarter Horse, and the other members of the search and rescue team offered to park cars at a rodeo. At one point during the day, Dale’s horse started rearing. “The third time he went up, we were completely vertical,” Dale remembers. “Then he turned 180-degrees and came down on top of me.” The accident left Dale with multiple bruises, a crushed hip, five broken ribs and a broken bone in his back. The paramedics on the scene didn’t think he’d survive the trip to the hospital. “They said that if my back injury had been two inches to the right, I would have died instantly. That’s how close to death I was,” he says.
During his recuperation, Dale was confined indoors, and since he couldn’t work with his horses, he did the next best thing ” he watched RFD-TV and caught Clinton’s TV show for the first time. He remembers being struck by the importance Clinton placed on groundwork ” a concept that was completely new to Dale. “It got me thinking that maybe we needed to do something different,” Dale says, but it wasn’t until a second event took place that he became dedicated to the Method.