Madison Shambaugh — known as Mustang Maddy in the horse world — was recently featured in the national magazine Cowgirl — a publication that showcases renown western women like Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert and Fallon Taylor. The media outlet put Shambaugh, who is based in Ridgway, on their cover and did a feature story about her training work with mustangs. Shambaugh said for her, the recognition means less about personal fame, and more about her life’s purpose in educating people and helping the wild horses.

Shambaugh has spent her life working with equines, and for the last several years has focused on gentling mustangs and advocating for them. (There are approximately 40,000 mustangs in holding pens across the West.)

She’s competed in the Extreme Mustang Makeover events and has won several titles on three-strike mustangs — horses that were offered for adoption without success — proving that wild horses can work, partner up and be useful to people.

Now, though the young trainer wants to do less competing and will focus primarily on education efforts. Shambaugh has been working on a book and DVD series that showcase her gentling and training methods. She’s spending much of her time now refining her work in order to explain it as effectively as possible to her following.

She’s decided first, though, to release an online training course that will appear likely late spring or early summer. She invites all to visit her webpage, mustangmaddy.com, to learn more or find her on Facebook to keep up with her pursuits.

Still, she has plans to travel a bit, mostly locally. In June, she’s leading a private seven-day retreat, through which participants will travel to Denver to stay at a wild horse sanctuary. There, they’ll work privately with Shambaugh to learn some of her training methods. At the end of the retreat, participants will have the opportunity to adopt a mustang, and proceeds will benefit the wild horse sanctuary.

Shambaugh said she’s amazed that the event sold out just two days after it was announced — another sign, she said, that she’s on the right path.

She said those that couldn’t get into the retreat can still come that week, to watch and visit with the horses on site.

Currently, Shambaugh has five mustangs she travels with. She has two others that she’s rehabbing at her place now, so they can be adopted and find new homes. She wants to do more of that. In the future, she said she plans to have at least one mustang at home at all times that she’ll gentle for adoption.

Again, she’ll appear in Norwood this summer at the San Miguel Basin Rodeo to share her not-so-wild ones in a special demonstration. Indeed, the young trainer has built a following on Wright’s Mesa after leading similar events the last few years.

She’s also been invited to travel to Germany this fall to judge an Extreme Mustang Makeover contest there. And, she’ll be featured on Animal Planet this summer for a segment she filmed with her zebras last fall with Dr. Jeff, the Rocky Mountain Vet.

According to Shambaugh, the recognition is nice, but it’s really about her mission.   

“The more of an impact I can make with the mustangs and my training methods and inspiring young women — that is how I am going to be successful,” she said. “That is moving me closer to that goal.”