SAFE volunteer Blair worked with Renee during the groundwork portion of the clinic. Here’s what she had to report on her experience:

I had an anxious/excited vibe walking into the barn for my first Joel Conner Clinic. I was paired with Renee, who has a sweet demeanor and has had prior groundwork training through our horsemanship program, as have I. Renee knew what was expected while I gave my best effort to walk the dance with her to gain the feel together. While I stumbled a bit learning the steps, Renee was patient and didn’t shut down even when I confused her.

Joel was great, he would notice me getting stuck with my feet or my coordination when changing hands, so he would come up and demonstrate how I was doing it and then show me the corrections and tips for me to try out. Best part about Joel is his sense of humor, when you’re learning new things and not grasping it right away or your struggling to find the feel…you can get frustrated or bummed out. But he makes you laugh and is there to ask any question whether it be big or small.

I also liked that he will push you a bit to try something you might be uncomfortable doing but in a safe positive way. For example, working on picking up Renee’s feet, then gently placing the hoof back on the ground. Joel has a way of building your confidence in this manner and this carries with you into your horsemanship skills and interactions outside of the arena as well. I value that so much.

My goal is to work on my presence, and show improvement for the next clinic. I have a laid back vibe and feel to me and Renee totally read in to that and matched it.  Which made it trying at times to put her “in a box” / “pressure” so she could learn to free up her feet when she felt troubled or unsure. With better presence comes a better feel for the both of us. I hope!