A Lifetime Passion
Michelle Worley has been involved with horses her entire life, and like many old families in the American West, hers were ranchers and cowboys, finally
settling in the high-mountain desert of the multi-border region between Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and California. Spending her early years growing up in the remote desert of Northeastern California, beyond the reach of telephones and electricity, her love of horses has been with her to the earliest reaches of her memory. She has spent her entire life with horses, whether on working cattle ranches, training horses for working or guest
Michelle's grandfather and great-grandfather, near Alturas, CA
ranches, formally training in equestrian studies at university, competing, or training them professionally for various forms of riding. Her childhood in the
Michelle, age 4, with Daisy, Smoke Creek Desert
remote American West undoubtedly shaped her interest in developing all-around horses capable of being ready for anything asked of them. During junior high, Michelle's family "moved into town", near Standish, California (pop. 413,) where she was actively involved in 4-H, and various
riding disciplines. During this period, her love of English riding and the challenge of jumping horses blossomed, leading her to pursue it competitively throughout California, Oregon, and Nevada. This included
membership in the Sierra Nevada Horse Show Association, the Honey Lake Valley Riders, and the NorCal Draft Horse Association. During High School, Michelle was employed on a working cattle ranch moving cattle, as well as on a guest ranch, selecting and training horses for their suitability with new and novice riders. Finishing high school in three years, Michelle moved on to Rocky Mountain College, in Billings, Montana, where she also
Michelle, age 12, with Stormy at Red
Rock Hounds, Nevada
finished in three years, earning her Bachelor's degree in Business Management with a minor in Equine Management, riding twice each day under multiple instructors, while conducting substantial showing. The equine
portion of her studies was an intensive program, including preventative medicine, reproduction and growth, colt starting, and stable management. She competed extensively, and in her final year at RMC, she was awarded Year-End High Point English Rider, with her 10 year-old rehab off-the-track thoroughbred, Corsair.
Age 14, with Rocky, enjoying a girl's homemade jumps.
After college, Michelle moved to Nampa, enjoying riding in her spare time while working in the finance sector. Before long, she found herself raising and training horses, as both passion and business pursuit. During this time she continued her development and training, with extensive arena and back-country riding, as well as private training and through substantial work
Michelle and Flash, Picabo Horse Trials, 2002
at Once Upon a Horse, in Eagle, Idaho, eventing at Novice level, and schooling herself for Training level. In addition to her regular professional pursuits, Michelle also worked in the evenings and weekends at the 4D Arena, providing training to colts and novice horses, as well as conducting selection for horses best suited for novice riders and the needs of the 4D. During this
period, she found Flash, a horse who singularly changed her equestrian focus. He introduced her to the virtues of a big, quiet horse that didn't need to be ridden daily, as most of the hotter horses do, such as the off-the-track-thoroughbreds (OTTB) and Thoroughbred-crosses she chose during college. This led her to work with Flash as a complete, all-around horse, ponying
colts, moving cows, and riding trail, team pen, open horse shows, 1st level dressage, and Novice at USEA events. This led to riding Quarter Horses and schooling with a reining trainer. Michelle soon added several big draft-crosses to her herd, and her focus became clear - quiet, trainable horses for working women like herself. What she found was that the mind of so many of these large, superb
With Lucy, conducting desensitizing flag, tarp, and slicker training on a cold, windy Idaho day
horses was highly suited to not only regular change-ups of activity, but they also remained good, solid horses after periods of no riding or continued training - exactly what happens with so many family horses and their busy owners. Trail riding one weekend, eventing the next, kids' riding on another, and then nothing for awhile. While she greatly enjoys riding Quarter Horses
and other smaller breeds, the draft-crosses she specializes in remain her core breed focus. A critical component of her approach is her ability to select colts and older horses as prospects with the right temperament for the kinds of diverse demands she places on her horses. In training, Michelle's priority is squarely on excellence in the basics of building all-around horses that are simply content and capable with whatever they are presented in their lives after leaving her care.
With Millie, 2008 AQHA Region 1 Reserve Champion Working Hunter