Not many trainers can say they know their way around a zebra, but for Madison Shambaugh, these, “Rowdy rogues,” of the Serengeti are becoming an everyday thing. With the addition of a new zebra colt, and the rapidly rising star that is Zena, she could be well on her way to having Team Stripes, a liberty team of zebras. Notoriously difficult to train, these striped prey animals are known for their, “offensive defense,” skills. Those close to Madison have been quoted as saying, “That is the exact reason she likes to work with them.”
“It all begins with trust,” according to Madison, aka Mustang Maddy, who has made quite a name for herself gentling wild mustangs, winning a slew of titles along the way, and winning the hearts of fans all over the world, many of them being horsemen and women she looks up to herself. On being a role model, Madison didn’t set out to do that, but is very humbled by her fans. She would like to, one day, along with her team, be a part of a children’s book series that educates about the plight of the American Mustang.
Madison’s plate may seem full with a new zebra, a book series, and additions to the herd, but these are just a few of the many irons she has in the fire as she sets out on her first North American tour. She will be crisscrossing the United States and Canada for five months, giving clinics, doing demos, and meeting fans, showcasing the American Mustang, while educating and entertaining along the way. Photo Credit: Bobbi Jo Photography
For those that aren’t familiar with the story of Mustang Maddy, flash back to a little 8-year-old girl whose 2-year-old paint filly kept bucking her off, and her dad whom kept telling her to get back on. She has said that that’s what prompted her to find a better way. Fast forward a few years to the spring of 2014, when the young, self-made trainer, clinician, and equine behaviorist picked up her first wild mustang that she had planned to train and compete in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, (a National Equestrian competition hosted by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, where competitors have just 120 days to train a previously untouched wild mustang.) Unfortunately, a horse slipped in the snow while training, crushing Madison’s tibia and fibula, and she had to return the mustang and put her dream on hold to heal. Heal she did- and quick! She immediately picked up her second mustang to compete with, but this was not going to be the one either. After three weeks of training, it was apparent he had neurological damage that would make riding him unsafe.
Just days before picking up Terk, her ‘third time’s a charm’ mustang, one of Maddy’s biggest supporters, her grandfather, had earned his Angel Wings from a battle with cancer. She did not know if she was going to continue, but her father, Mark, urged her on, reminding her that it’s what her grandfather would have wanted her to do. The bond between Terk and Maddy became so strong that it was apparent to all at the Virgina competition, with one judge even stating there were not enough points to give them for their ride. During the post-competition auction, Maddy was determined to take Terk home. She did, and the duo just recently gave their anniversary performance at the Hoosier Horse Fair.
(Below) Terk “Shine Bright” Performance EMM, Photo by Kelly Patterson
Along with Terk and Tuari, there is Takoda, who won this year’s Freestyle in Louisiana. They make up Team Bay. You will see the three of them, along with Zena the zebra, performing together if you get out to see one of Madison’s shows this year. Along for the ride will also be Kodiak, a grey mustang that Madison just recently acquired and has some big plans for, involving a big announcement sometime after the first of the year.
At home is Dante, a flashy young paint that followed her home from a recent colt starting challenge at the Hoosier Horse Fair in Indianapolis, a couple of babies, and that little striped bundle of cuteness. Shambaugh also travels with her dogs, and usually has a friend along to help out because someone has to remind her to sleep.
For more information on Madison and her team, or to find a date near you, please visit her website: www.madisonshambaugh.com
To find out more about how Madison keeps her team fed,