I have wanted to pen this letter for quite some time to thank you for all you have done for me and my mules. I will start at the beginning and try not to ramble on. In 2006 I sat and watched you work a young mule in Bishop CA and thought what a remarkable man you were. I watched what you were doing in great amazement – I was in awe to see the change in this mule, although subtle, but it was there in just minutes.
In June 2005 I had come off my mule “Waylon” and had such a fear of getting back on that it left me paralyzed. I had the opportunity to attend a 2-day clinic in June 2006 and was so pleased upon my arrival to learn that we would be working on groundwork and in the round pen, as I had no confidence to ride and that fear was overwhelming. I learned so much that weekend and in just those two short days started to regain my confidence. There was never any pressure from you or any of other clinic participants to ride and I found that I was not the only one with overwhelming fear. I took what I learned those two days home and for four months I worked him on the ground and in the round pen where we both gained mutual respect and both learned pressure and release—heck, Jerry, I think I licked and chewed more than that ole mule did.
Fast forward to October 2006 when I attended yet another clinic. The first day was groundwork and round penning so once again I did not ride. On Sunday we worked on the ground for most of the morning while others were riding. That afternoon you asked me if I was going to get on. I believe my response was a nervous laugh followed by some kind of nervous tick. You assured me that you would be right there with me in the round pen, so I reluctantly swung a leg over but there was a peaceful calm about the whole thing–I was still fearful but felt good–I don’t know how to explain it. You worked him in the round pen and told me to hold the reins loosely and use the pommel of my saddle to steady myself, as if to ride with no hands–you were the driver and I was the passenger.
That day changed my life with my mule. You gave me the support to overcome my fear and my heart will be forever grateful for that.
Jerry, I read books and watched DVDs of others and even attended clinics given by others (no names mentioned out of respect!) and just couldn’t get it. I consider myself an intelligent individual but I was just as confused and frustrated by the end of each book, DVD and clinic as before. I appreciate your “hands on” teaching and taking the time to make sure I understood just what you were asking me to ask of my mule.
I would also like to take this time to thank you for taking in “Lilly Mule” as we have a lot of work to do to prepare for our posse test, and after working with her six months and failing our test I knew she needed more than I could give her. She is a mule that has fear issues (kind of like I did), ear issues (not me, the mule—ha ha) and downright trust issues. I know she will come home a much safer and confident partner than what she was several months ago. I could already see the change in her eye after just a week and a half of being at “Camp Tindell”– it is a remarkable change and I am confident that we will pass our test on the next go ‘round. Thank you again for giving me back my confidence and for giving “Lilly” much needed support while building the trust she so needs. I’m looking forward to working with you in 2010.