Faith wakes up in the morning thinking about horses, spends her day training horses and helping people better their horsemanship, and goes to bed dreaming about horses. “Being a horseman and a Clinton Anderson Certified Clinician is a lifestyle; it’s not just a career,” Faith says. “Training horses and helping others become better horsemen are my reasons to get up in the morning.”
Throwing her heart and soul into her passion is a trait Faith learned from her parents. Clint and Adana Stevenson own and operate the Diamond Dot Cattle Company, an Angus cattle ranch nestled in the rolling grasslands of Hobson, Montana. The Stevensons use horses to work their ranch, and Faith was on the back of a horse before she could walk. “I’ve been in love with horses my whole life. I’ve known since I was 8 that I wanted to be a horse trainer,” she shares.
The tenacious horsewoman grew up in the saddle, riding the ranch’s sprawling pastures, and was actively involved in 4-H, FFA and the Montana Quarter Horse Association, where she competed in all-around events.
It was Boss, an Appaloosa gelding, that led Faith to the Method and set her on the path to becoming a Certified Clinician. The Stevensons purchased the gelding from a ranch in Wyoming as a prospective show horse. When Boss arrived in Montana, the Stevensons knew that if he was going to become a show horse, they needed help. The gelding had a severe tying problem, panicked in the trailer and had no qualms about flipping over backwards.
Faith was 11 at the time and taking lessons from Ed Lamb, a local western pleasure trainer who played an influential role in challenging Faith to continually improve her horsemanship. “We went to Ed and said, “‘What do we do?’ We’d done everything we knew how to do at that point,” Faith remembers.
Ed gave the Stevensons his copy of Clinton’s No Worries Tying DVD and a Downunder Horsemanship catalog. “We ordered a tie ring and a long line and then got to work,” Faith says. “The gelding made a lot of improvement. He tied better, he trailered better and he was just much easier to work around in general.”
The same year, Faith bought a weanling and began teaching him groundwork exercises. She named the colt Matt, a nod to her maternal grandfather. “Matt’s registered name is IMA Great, and I wanted to name him after someone I thought was great,” she explains.
Faith worked diligently with Matt, and showed him as a yearling in halter and in-hand trail classes. The pair did well at shows and were often in the top two placings of their classes.
When Matt turned 2, Faith started riding him, and while she’d had great success with him on the ground, the same wasn’t true under saddle. “I rode with a local horse club at the time, and at one clinic, I was riding in a class with a lot of other horses and Matt got nervous. He started kicking and bucking,” Faith says. “A lot of the club members told me that Matt was uncontrollable and shouldn’t have been in the class. An instructor even talked to my mom and told her that Matt was too big and too smart for a 12-year-old girl to be riding.”
Faith refused to give up on Matt, and asked Ed to help her work with the gelding. They started the Fundamentals with him, and in a short time, Matt transformed into a willing partner. He progressed in his training so well that Faith took him to the Montana State 4-H Horse Show that same year, where they earned grand champion honors in the 2-year-old colt to maturity western horse class and in English equitation. “I was very proud about how far he came. It felt good to do so well,” Faith shares.
The experience confirmed Faith’s belief in the Method, and she became serious about attending the Clinician Academy. “The Method works, period. So many people don’t take the time to understand how their horses think; they try to force their horses into doing what they want. I like how Clinton focuses on the psychology of how horses think and act and explains how to make your idea your horse’s idea. He’s taught me how to get inside a horse’s head and understand how to communicate with them,” Faith says.
Fulfilling a Dream
After graduating the Clinician Academy in 2016 as a Method Ambassador, Faith was invited by Clinton to continue her education at the ranch. It was an honor Faith was quick to accept. “If there’s knowledge out there, I want it!” she says. “I had gained a lot of skills and saw a tremendous improvement in myself when I completed the Method Ambassador program. I wanted to get that much better again, and I knew the only way I was going to get better was to have Clinton watch me work with horses. Being able to get his one-on-one feedback is invaluable.”
At the ranch, Faith’s main responsibility was starting Clinton’s 2-year-old performance horses and teaching them the Fundamentals riding exercises and delving into a few of the Intermediate and Advanced exercises. It’s a task Clinton doesn’t hand out to just anyone. “A horse’s first six weeks under saddle are some of the most crucial time in his career. It sets the foundation for the rest of his life under saddle,” Clinton says. “You want to put the most skilled horsemen on your colts to ensure the best start.”
Working with the horses, Faith saw her feel and timing improve. “Looking back on the horses I worked with growing up, they were all kind of the same. They had the same bloodlines and more or less behaved the same way. Working with Clinton’s performance horses really opened up my eyes that you have to adapt the way you interact with each horse individually. Those performance horses were all so different and had so much energy and were so athletic that they taught me to be a better horseman,” Faith says.
Faith’s dedication and ability impressed Clinton, and she was rewarded by being promoted to a Certified Clinician. “It’s an honor and means a lot to me to have Clinton’s backing and support, and I appreciate the knowledge I’ve learned from him,” Faith shares. “I’ve had a lot of people give me opportunities throughout my horsemanship career and now I’m able to give other people the opportunity to learn and form partnerships with their horses and make an impact on the industry. When you get started with horses, you don’t know what you’re doing and a lot of times you lack confidence. Getting to help people grow as horsemen and as individuals is something I’m passionate about.”
As a Certified Clinician, Faith is based in Hobson, a small town in the middle of Montana, where she trains horses for the public and teaches lessons and clinics that focus on the Fundamentals and Colt Starting levels of the Method. She also plans to get back in the show ring, competing on the AQHA circuit. “There’s a need for good horsemanship, and the Method is the perfect solution. Watching other people make progress with their horses is extremely rewarding to me,” Faith says. “I love being around people who are excited about bettering their horsemanship.”