Jake’s passion for helping horse owners learn how to build safe, fulfilling partnerships with their horses stems from personal experience. The Nebraska native was raised on a cattle feedlot, and when he wasn’t helping his family with chores or studying in school, he was on a baseball diamond.
That routine changed when Jake was in high school and his family took a serious interest in horses. His sister, JoAnne, convinced his parents to get a horse so that she could participate in 4-H. While the family had always kept a horse on hand to do odd jobs around the farm, the gelding wasn’t broke or a suitable mount JoAnne could use, so they found what they thought would be the perfect horse.
In short order, the Lundahls realized the horse was anything but perfect – he reared up with JoAnne during her first show and became dangerous to handle – and they were in over their heads. Help came from an unlikely source – Justin Dutcher, the assistant coach for Jake’s baseball team. “Justin had a couple horses of his own and had used the Method to train them,” Jake says. “When he learned we were having problems with our horses, he stepped in to help and introduced us to Clinton.”
Justin loaned the Lundahls Clinton’s DVDs and then invited them to work with his horses so that they could get a feel for what the training approach could help them accomplish. “When we worked with Justin’s horses, it was the first time I’d been around a Method-trained horse, and I was beyond impressed. The horse I rode was just so broke compared to my family’s horses. The experience got my attention and got me thinking about what you could accomplish with a horse,” Jake says.
With his interest in horsemanship gaining momentum, Jake took on a 2-year-old colt. “I realize it wasn’t the most ideal way to start my horsemanship career, but Justin coached me through the process. I got lucky that the colt had a great personality, which made my job easier. The experience was overwhelmingly positive and built my confidence about working with horses tremendously,” Jake says.
At that point, what had been an interest in horses became an all-out passion for Jake. “When you’re first learning how to work with a horse, the Method is easy to pick up and go out and get results with. Seeing those results, oftentimes immediately, builds your confidence and it keeps you excited in the beginning. You get addicted to the progress you can make,” Jake says.
While leafing through the pages of a copy of Western Horseman magazine, Jake saw a callout for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a competition in which horsemen have about 100 days to gentle and train a wild BLM mustang. By that point in his horsemanship journey, Jake had started several horses and felt confident enough in his ability that the thought of training a wild mustang and competing for prize money was an exhilarating new goal to work toward.
In 2009, he and his father loaded up their truck and trailer and headed south to the BLM holding facility in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. There, they picked up a yearling colt that Jake would train and compete with in the youth division at the Extreme Mustang Makeover held in Fort Worth, Texas. The Midwest horseman won the competition, which was made up of lead-line classes and a freestyle performance, and became a repeat contender in the competitions for the next few years. “I have a lot of horses back home that are mustangs,” he says. “There is no doubt that I gained valuable experience and became a better horseman by working with them. Wild horses will certainly challenge you and teach you a lot about being a thinking horseman.”