Mustang Heritage Foundation Announces New TIP Trainer

Mustang Heritage Foundation Announces New TIP Trainer
Catherine Madera

Meet Northwest Washington Trainer Cheryle McConnaughey

by Catherine Madera


Photo credit Ashley Butenschoen

Cheryle McConnaughey of Bellingham, WA is a northwest trainer newly approved through the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Trainer Incentive Program (TIP). She shares what is a passion for many horse lovers: helping America’s Mustangs find adoptive homes. An estimated 30,000 mustangs are currently residing in the Bureau of Land Management’s corrals and adoption facilities and research has shown that many prospective adopters simply don’t have the time to gentle a wild horse. TIP trainers like Cheryle increase adoption success rates by giving mustangs a solid foundation. The Northwest Horse Source was interested in finding out more about Cheryle and her commitment to the American Mustang.

Cheryle and Regalo. Photo credit Tracey Westbury

Where and why did you get your first Mustang?

At a satellite adoption in Lynden WA. There was an instant connection to the mustangs and a draw to want to help them. I wanted to change the fear I saw in them by learning to trust me with their life and build a relationship.



Tell us about a special time with one of your Mustangs which illustrates their appeal?

I brought Jack, one of my mustangs, to an adoption and my sister held him while I did a barefoot trim demo. He could not see me, but he could hear me over the PA. After a bit he started moving around to find me and she said that once he saw me through the crowd he settled right down. This is the loyalty and bonds that they make.

Cheryle and yearling mustang Chico, now adopted into a new home. Photo credit Subrina Miller

What is the worst/most challenging thing you’ve experienced with a Mustang?

It was with my 8-year-old mustang Regalo that was captured at the age of 4. I was starting to gain real trust with him and on Christmas morning I found him in my field down in the deep snow with a broken leg. I lost a loyal friend that day and I still grieve him. It was also very hard to watch his pair bonded mare Mustang Sally grieve, too. She called to him while we were putting him down so I decided to take her to him. She said goodbye to him in her own way by bumping and licking him. My grief lasted a long time and it broke my heart to watch Sally look for him for months and grieve for almost a year.

What sort of training methods do you use?

I have a strong natural horsemanship focus and have been directly or indirectly influenced and/or mentored by John Lyons, Pat Parelli, and Jonathan Field. Through experience, I have also developed my own strategies to effectively train wild horses.

To learn more about the Mustang Heritage Foundation and the TIP program visit mustangheritagefoundation.org or call 512-869-3225. To learn more about Cheryle and/or to be connected with a gentled Mustang follow her blog, amustangreborn.blogspot.com or email her at amustangreborn@gmail.com*.


*This link was no longer active at the time this article was added to the website in 2018.


Published March 2013 Issue

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Catherine Madera

Catherine Madera attended Walla Walla University in Eastern Washington where she majored in communications/journalism. After winning a national competition for Guideposts Magazine in 2004, Catherine concentrated on non-fiction inspirational stories. Since then, she has published numerous personal and ghosted stories for Guideposts and their affiliate publications. Catherine has published in many regional and national magazines/newspapers and her work is included in several anthologies. She specializes in equine-related topics and profiles and serves as editor of The Northwest Horse Source. In 2010 Catherine’s non-fiction story, A Hero’s Work, received the Merial Human-Animal Bond award given by American Horse Publications. She has also authored three works of fiction and provides editing/writing assistance through Word Horse Writing Services.

More in Feature