I was always fascinated by the idea of connecting with a wild animal and I was always obsessed with horses. I started riding when I was four years old. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “animal behaviorist”. Somehow, I got a little lost along the way and ended up as a business consultant and software developer, but life always has a way of snapping you back to who you are at your core. Horses have always been a part of my life and I’ve had my first horse Angel for about 14 years now. I went in search of an appropriate companion for my horse about a year and a half ago. I needed a horse that would be comfortable in my minimalist, natural horse care environment (i.e., a run-in shed and a paddock – no bells and whistles here!) I saw an Instagram post with the hashtag #blmmustang and vaguely remembered that the government has a bottomless supply of horses that need homes and down the rabbit hole I went. Then life threw about 30 wrenches in my plans and put me in a place where it would have been crazy for me to considering buying a horse. Luckily, I’m crazy. So in spite of massive amounts of uncertainty, I bought my first mustang, Soji, a 10-year-old buckskin pinto from the South Steens management are of Oregon. Sasha had a lot of trouble adjusting and did not retain any of her training. I was constantly making progress and starting over. This led me to two thoughts. One, I need to set up my facility in a way that she can remain wild while still being healthy and safe. And two, I needed another data point. They can’t all be this hard, right? So I entered the Massachusetts mustang challenge - mostly because it was the only way to get a mustang transported across the country for free. It was a random draw and luckily I drew the exact data point I needed. A very wild horse named Tora Ziyal who is incredibly smart and trusting, who I had halter trained within twenty-four hours. Content that I had experienced the full spectrum of the hardest to the easiest possible mustang, I now felt confident in my love for the full range of mustangs I could end up with. So my husband and I set off selling everything we own to jump right off the deep end and buy 150 acres to build a mustang sanctuary. Through the journey of loss and trauma that led up to adopting my first mustang, I’ve learned so much about myself and what I am capable of surviving. Most of all, I’ve learned about the healing power of nature and wild horses, and the beautiful things that occur when you release your grasp on what should have been and you let life take you where you need to be.
Most of my training is positive reinforcement, opt in and mostly at liberty. This means me and a horse, standing in an open field, no ropes or restraints, asking the horse to come play with me if they choose to. They usually do. It’s a radical technique I learned from Madison Shambaugh, a legend in the world of mustang training. It’s built on the idea of honoring the horse’s feelings and making sure they feel seen and heard. A horse will try just about anything if you give it the vocabulary to say “no thanks” and walk away at any time, so amazing things can be accomplished with zero force. It’s an especially safe and easy way to get into training wild horses, even with minimal horse experience. One of my goals at Wild Ride will be to coach others in this technique. I never thought I was capable of training a wild horse, but now I know that with the proper guidance, anyone can experience this magical transformation.
As of now, there are no mustang adoption facilities anywhere near New England. The nearest facility is a 17 hour drive each way. You have to pay thousands of dollars to ship a $25 horse across the country and we’re going to change that. We’re going to make mustangs accessible to New Englanders and make sure people are equipped to meet their specific needs. We plan on offering wild horse training and facility rentals because most horse farms aren’t equipped with the six-foot-tall heavy duty pens that mustangs require, along with other specialty facilities like a connected round pen, chutes for working with the horses for veterinary care and more.
In addition to providing a home and sanctuary for horses like Soji, and training/support for adoptable horses, we will be creating an outdoor recreation facility so humans can have a chance to embrace their wild side. We plan to offer trails for hiking, mountain biking, dirt bikes, horseback riding as well as zip lines and tree courses. We will be building a skills park for bikes, dirt bikes and horses that will include a variety of trail obstacles to practice on. We’d also like to offer a pump track for bicycles and off-roading courses for overland vehicles. If it’s a fun activity to do in nature, we’re all about it! Our yoga dome is a 32’ completely transparent heated geodesic dome located in the heart of our forest for events and classes in yoga, mindfulness and more.
Meet the Team
MacKenzie is a life long horse lover and is extremely passionate about educating the public about how amazing mustangs are. She is a firm believer that with the right support, anyone can train a wild mustang. MacKenzie is certified in Equine Facilitated Learning through the HERD Institute and will be graduating Yoga Farm Ithica's 200 hour Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training in December 2022.
Vice President, Co-Founder
Jesse is a lifelong lover of outdoor recreation, mostly in the form of zooming though the woods. In a former life, he was a professional downhill mountain biker and has also competed in trials dirt bikes, rally races and many more sports. He focuses on trail design and will be building our skills park.
Marc is our facilities manager and is constantly working on improvements to the property and trails. He has been an integral part of setting up the facility every step of the way and we are so grateful to have him!
Stephanie is an animal lover and advocate who loves horses. Her day job is teaching 5th grade math. Her hobbies include autocross, stage rally, working on her rally car and all things Keroppi.
Kathleen is a life long animal lover who also has a lot of experience around nonprofit management, fundraising and events.