Born into a family that operates a fourth-generation dairy farm, Kristin was accustomed to getting up before daybreak to milk cows, working alongside her family in the heat of summer or the raw coldness of winter to care for their cattle and calving out heifers in the middle of the night. Long before she ever stepped foot on the Downunder Horsemanship Ranch, the McBain, Michigan native had a healthy understanding of the meaning behind the core values – loyal, hardworking, ambitious and personable – that Clinton runs his company by.

A Lifestyle

Those core values weren’t just ideals to her, they were a lifestyle. So when she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a clinician and applied to the Academy, Kristin was certain she had what it took to succeed. “I knew I had the ambition and work ethic that it would take to succeed, and living on a family-run dairy farm will teach you everything you need to know about loyalty,” Kristin says.

Those core values, her horsemanship skills and her desire to teach the Method served her well on her journey of becoming a Professional Clinician.

Horse Crazy

Although she was raised on a farm and loved horses from the moment she was born, it took Kristin 12 long years to convince her parents that she could care for a horse. When Annie, a little Quarter Horse mare, joined the family, she appeared to be a great confidence builder for Kristin. “She was easygoing and laidback, but after two weeks of owning her, I successfully had her rearing, jigging on the trail, spooking at everything and she was hard to catch,” Kristin says, laughing at the memory.

Her younger sister, Beth, also rode horses, and together the two girls spent their teenage years on horseback. Kristin took a few English and western lessons and competed on her high school equestrian team and at local shows. She did everything from western pleasure to trail to speed events and goat tying. “Looking back on how I used to interact with my horses, I was a huge Nagging Mother. I’d tip toe around them. If a horse didn’t like something, I’d avoid doing it,” Kristin explains. “Basically, I was taught to train my horse in the arena to look good during a class, get a ribbon and get out. But my horse just got stiffer and ring sour.”

That all changed when Kristin discovered the Method at the age of 17. She’d been having trouble with her mare and was looking for help, and when she took on Trace, an unstarted 6-year-old Paint gelding, she knew without a doubt that she needed more knowledge than she had. “Trace really got me started with Clinton,” Kristin says. “I was looking for help and stumbled on Clinton while watching TV.”

To Kristin, the other trainers on TV just didn’t offer in-depth information like Clinton did. “He makes everything step-by-step and idiot-proof, which is exactly how I needed the information to be broken down so I could learn,” Kristin says.

The more she used the Method on her horses, the more she fell in love with it, and soon, she was sharing her new knowledge. “After I really dove into the Method and started to get great results with my own horses, people would mention that they were having trouble with their horses. I’d offer to help them and bring the Arena Mates over to their house and show them how to apply the Method,” she says. “It sparked a desire in me to really want to help people.”

The Journey to a Dream Career

It wasn’t long after discovering the Method that Kristin wondered if she could turn training horses and helping people into a career. When she learned that Clinton had started the Academy, she was intrigued. There was no doubt in her mind that becoming a clinician would suit her perfectly, but she was heavily involved in her family’s dairy operation. As the herdswoman, Kristin helped her father with the care of the cattle, raised calves, cleaned barns, milked cows, trimmed hooves and treated sick animals. “As soon as I thought about leaving the farm to attend the Academy, I’d immediately feel guilty for putting more work on my family, so I pushed the idea of becoming a clinician aside,” Kristin says.

However, her family wouldn’t let her forget about her dream and encouraged her to follow her heart. “Thank you just doesn’t express my sincere gratitude for my family and all that they have done for me,” Kristin says. “They helped me realize that it was OK to go to the Academy, and that if I really wanted it, I needed to try for it.”

No Surprises

When she arrived at the Downunder Horsemanship Ranch, the Academy was exactly what Kristin hoped it was going to be and more. From the first day she began working with horses on the ranch until she graduated, she was constantly adding to her knowledge and gaining phenomenal experience. “There were days when Clinton would meet us all outside on horseback and then take us through a ride he wanted us to put on all of our horses for the day. He’d give us a template and then tell us to mix it all up,” Kristin says. “I remember thinking to myself that I was so lucky to be riding alongside Clinton, somebody I’ve looked up to for years, and training horses under his name. I can’t even begin to put a price tag on the knowledge I gained being in the Academy.”

There’s no doubt in her mind that the horses Clinton had them working strengthened her feel and timing. “Every horse is a learning opportunity, and I can honestly say that each of them bettered me as a horseman,” Kristin acknowledges.

Training a horse for six weeks in the Academy Horse Program and then spending a day with the horse’s owner, showing them everything the horse had learned was the highlight of the Academy for Kristin. “Some of the horses came with a lot of baggage and I had to put in a lot of time with them to get them to the level of ability they were cable of performing at. To see their transformation and then to be able to watch the owner’s emotions when you hand them a ‘new’ horse is unbelievable. You’re giving them the confidence and knowledge to go home and build a better partnership with their horse,” Kristin says. “That’s empowering and why I love what I do.”

Continuously Growing

After she established a successful career as a Professional Clinician, Kristin was invited to join Clinton’s performance horse program, where she trained the 2-year-old horses. “When Clinton offered me the opportunity to work with his performance horses, I leaped on it. I knew that it was the perfect way to continue to develop my skills. Working with the performance horses opened up new opportunities for me, including being able to eventually get in the ring and compete,” Kristin says.

The Professional Clinician also spent five years teaching the Clinician Academy. “Kristin knows the Method inside and out and is a skilled horsewoman and a phenomenal instructor,” Clinton says. “She’s a go-getter and knows the Method as well as I do and is nothing short of a perfectionist. Her passion for teaching and her dedication to the Method and horsemanship was an inspiration to students to reach their full potential during the course.”

While acquiring the skill set to effectively train horses is what led Kristin to Downunder Horsemanship and the Method, it’s the passion she has for working with people and helping them realize their goals that pushed her to becoming a clinician and establishing her dream career.

“Nothing beats watching the transformation people go through as they learn how to effectively communicate with their horses and form partnerships. I love the lightbulb moments the most. There are always those moments when you’re helping someone, when they or their horse are struggling with a concept and then BAM! they get it. When you break through that barrier, it changes everything,” Kristin says. “I’ve been there myself; I get it! So when I have the opportunity to help other people better their skills and get results, I don’t think about it twice.”