Written by SAFE volunteer Sue C:

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Stella for 4 days at the recent Joel Conner clinic. Stella has been well trained by Casey, which helped so much since I was the one learning the mechanics of how to ask for moving forward on a circle, hind quarters and front quarters. After some directional fits and starts on my part the first day, we had some success at this.

Learning to keep Stella focused on me, and to move her off my feel were more difficult for us. She is a sensitive mare, and it was a challenge for me to find the right amount of pressure, followed by a release to keep her responding with a happy expression. I needed frequent reminders to apply enough pressure to get a change if she didn’t respond to my first offer of a “good deal”. I wish I could report that I found the key to this consistently, but I did achieve some changes. Joel reminded us all that change comes incrementally, and a 1% improvement is still progress. I am so excited to practice and improve further.

Stella is a great teacher, and I feel fortunate to have worked with her. Joel is also a great teacher, always patient, and always focused on the horse. I come away from the clinic with my head spinning on how much I have learned and how much more I want to learn. After many years of riding, it opens so many doors for expanding and improving my interactions with the horse. Thank you to Joel, to SAFE, and of course to Stella for getting me started on this path.