Kirsten AL has been working with Bandit for some months, and worked alongside her in the September Joel Conner Clinic. Below, she reflects on the experience of the three days spent together and what she and Ms. Bandit learned:

Day 1 question – How to decrease cranky ears? My thought was to slowly and with small gentle steps reward the slightest improvement of cranky ears with a big release. I was seeing that there was a slight improvement and she was incrementally and very slowly getting better and showing me at least 1 pleasant ear if not 2. I also saw that when I increased pressure she got crankier. Then I saw Joel work Tanis with the same issue. He got right in there and got a change, and her expression changed and he released. Then her expression stayed good. It was like a light bulb turned on and my mind changed to a different gear. I KNEW I could do this and it would make a difference for Bandit. And it did!

Day 2 question – The biggest surprise for me was when Bandit walked up to the trailer and just hopped in! Then turned around calmly and stood there until Joel asked her to step out calmly and she did! I was very proud of Bandit!

Day 3 question – Terry had encouraged me to work with Bandit on all of the ‘Red Book’ items prior to saddling. Prior to the clinic, Lexee was a great help with the tarp and stepping up to the panels when I was working Declan. Who better to start learning to use the coils than to ask Joel? Joel demonstrated on Bandit and it was a great first lesson. I’m excited to learn more rope skills going forward.

Joel listed all of the things a horse needs to do before its first ride. Another first at this clinic was learning to bend to a stop. After many, many, many circles – Bandit accomplished this lesson as well! Next, work forward on keeping her bent and then starting and stopping with a bend. Finally, we were left with the second half of this class to work on skills so back to the trailer we went. Bandit loaded and unloaded again several times. At one point Joel noticed and asked the class to watch Bandit unload. He mentioned that she was able to place her front feet at the edge of the trailer then gather her back end forward and calmly walk off (and not jump). He mentioned that because of the work with hind quarters, she had the muscles and skills to do this properly. Going forward, learning a proper hind quarter is a 2 beat gait will be needed before she is able to back out of the trailer.”