Working Toward the Dream

Shayla entered the Academy used to working long days and her experience with horses, particularly problem horses, helped her to excel. However, even though she entered the program with years of riding experience, she gained a considerable amount of knowledge and learned to fine-tune her horsemanship.

“The horses I worked with at home were broke and quiet, but they weren’t soft. Clinton taught me how to get a horse soft and supple. I also had a bad habit of being really intense with my horses, to the point of almost trying to force them to do something. Clinton taught me to chill out and let the horse find the answer. Instead of thinking, ‘You are going to go across the bridge,’ I learned to just let it happen, and my horses made more progress because of it,” Shayla says.

She points to one training horse in particular who, next to Clinton, was her best teacher. “When this horse was saddled, he’d buck really hard and would cow kick at you when you’d go to get in the saddle,” she describes.

The first time she saddled the horse, he bucked higher than she stood. “I´m talking NFR bucking. Clinton was helping me with the lesson, and I hustled the horse’s feet until he used the thinking side of his brain and calmed down. I remember after I’d gotten done moving the gelding’s feet that Clinton leaned over on the horse he was sitting on and said to me, ‘He isn’t done yet.’ He had me go get a lariat and we taught the horse to lead by the feet,” Shayla says. “That horse taught me to be a thinking horseman and gave me a great education.”

He also taught her the most valuable lesson she learned at the ranch as a horseman. “We’ve all heard Clinton say a million times to get on and step off a horse up by his shoulder and to keep his head bent to the side for safety. If I wouldn’t have done that, that horse would have kicked me several times,” Shayla says. “He turned out to be a good horse for his owner, and I enjoyed working with him. I had a lot of respect for that horse and owe a lot to him.”