Hi! I’m Maddy (aka Mustang Maddy from my work with wild horses) and I founded the Horse-Human Connection Academy because I know how it feels to lack a connection with horses. All my life, my desire has been for my horses to WANT to be with me, just as much as I want to be with them.


But my journey with horses began with getting bucked off, charged at, kicked, and even bitten. I was told to use bigger bits when my horses ran off with me, use more pressure, dominate the horse… But this just didn’t sit quite right with me.

My mom finally had enough of watching me in these dangerous situations, and we were on the market for a new, family safe horse. I quickly turned that horse into a runaway and the one after that.

Finally, I faced the hard truth–The problem wasn’t with the horses. Rather, the problem was with me.

“Once I came to this realization, I knew the course of action I needed to take to keep my dream alive!”

In my search to master the horse-human connection, I was able to successfully rehabilitate “untrainable” horses, train never-before-saddled colts to ride walk, trot, and canter in 3.5-hour colt starting competitions, and start a completely wild mustang to ride at a walk, trot, and canter in a big arena — without ropes or tack, in 7 days. I am a 3x Extreme Mustang Makeover Freestyle Champion and 2017 Mustang Magic Champion (where trainers have 100 days to train a completely wild horse). I have performed with my team of mustangs at liberty all over the country, and have been asked to speak, judge & teach all over the world. My work has been featured on Animal Planet, COWGIRL magazine, and Horse & Rider Magazine.


I reached the peak of my career using “Natural Horsemanship,” (pressure and release) until I came across a previously untrainable mustang and a feisty zebra who stopped me in my tracks. To train them with pressure & release, I would have to use a LOT more pressure than I was comfortable with… and that just didn’t align with me.

So I was back to the drawing board, and I dove headfirst into the wondrous world of positive reinforcement training, specifically clicker training. This completely turned my world upside down. I looked to world-renown experts in the realm of positive reinforcement training with equines and other species and even spent time working with marine mammals and other exotics to learn their secrets and bring this knowledge back to the horse-training industry.


Using pressure and release in an ethical way, my horses were impartial about our training sessions. Fine if we trained, fine if we didn’t. They felt safe and relaxed… But they were missing that sparkle in their eye that I longed for them to have.

After trying clicker training, I could never go back! I have rehabilitated an “untrainable” mustang out in a huge field, completely at liberty, successfully gentled 4 more mustangs using positive reinforcement, and witnessed a joy and enthusiasm in my team of well-trained mustangs that I had never seen before.

“Most importantly, my horses WANT to be with me! And everyone who saw this started asking how they could replicate the same results with THEIR horses, too.”

So, I put together a program to teach my signature methodology that has allowed me to train & connect with any horse, using methods that honor the horse in the process. That is how the “Horse – Human Connection Academy” was born.

Popular Videos


Episode 13

by Warwick Schiller | The Journey On Podcast | December 13, 2020

Madison Shambaugh, otherwise known as Mustang Maddy, joins the podcast…

Wild at Heart

by Jenn Thornton of John Wayne Magazine | December 8, 2020

“There is a stigma around wild horses,” says Madison Shambaugh. “They’re too wild, too difficult to train…

Clicker Training Horses

by Stacy Westfall | June 24, 2020

Does clicker training work with horses? Won’t they just start looking for treats all the time…

Explore Press Release Archives

Dr. Jeff: Rock Mountain Vet

on Animal Planet | July 2018

Roam Indiana Horse Expo

by NineStar Films | April 11, 2016

Running Wild: Mustang Maddy

by Abigail Boatwright of Horse&Rider | September 17, 2019

It’s not often you meet a person who has an uncanny communication with horses, at least with five American mustangs at once…

Meet Mustang Maddy: The Female Horse Whisperer

by Stacy Lorton of COWGIRL | January 9, 2018

Cowgirls… if you don’t yet know about Mustang Maddy, it’s time to get educated! Taken from Maddy’s official Facebook page, “Madison Shambaugh…

Lee Lee Robert and Mustang Maddy

by Equestrian Legacy Radio | March 15, 2018

Mustang Maddy (Madison Shambaugh) joins us on Equestrian Legacy Radio’s SADDLE UP AMERICA …

Answering A Call From The Wild

by Ken Amorosano of COWGIRL | June 25, 2018

It’s not often you meet a person who has an uncanny communication with horses, at least with five American mustangs…

On The Go With Joe at Washington State Horse Expo

by Fox 12 Oregon | March 2, 2018

For local horse lovers, there’s an event this weekend you’ll want to race over to check out…

Mustang Makeover 2018 - The Judges

by Pferde-Magazin.Info | 2018

The jury of the Mustang Makeover 2018 consists of: Vivian Gabor, Alexandra Edinge, Juan Vendrell and Madison Shambaugh…

‘Mustang Maddy’ — it’s all about communication

by Lynn Jenkins of The Reflector| February 6, 2018

Madison Shambaugh’s secret to success as both a nationally recognized liberty horse trainer and advocate for wild Mustangs comes down to one word: communication …

Mustang Maddy Makes Her Mark

by Horse Radio Network | September 30, 2017

Madison Shambaugh’s world was rocked when she encountered her first mustang in 2013 …

Purdue student travels the country to raise awareness about mustangs

by Emma Flick of The Exponent| February 20, 2017

A Purdue student known as “Mustang Maddy” is raising awareness for the plight wild horses face in the U.S. …

Cinderella Rides a Mustang

by Regan Tuttle of Telluride | February 8, 2017

Madison Shambaugh believes wild horses are every bit as valuable as domestic horses, if not more so because of their ability to adapt in the …

From wild to mild, training a mustang in 100 days

by Bradley Blackburn of WFAA | January 20, 2017

The horses trotting around the arena at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Friday night can’t tell their own story. But they have had an incredible journey …

Extreme Mustang Makeovers and the Mustang Heritage Foundation

by Whoa Podcast | April 21, 2015

Kyla told me about an excellent young trainer, Madison Shambaugh, who had competed successfully at the Virginia Extreme Mustang Makeover.  I was able to …

Student finds solace in wild mustang after death of a family member

by The Exponent | April 8, 2015

What do a broken leg, losing a grandparent and a horse with neurological damage have in common? They’re all major setbacks one Purdue student had to overcome …

Madison Shambaugh and Terk 'Shine Bright Like a Diamond' at 2015 VA EMM

by Horse Nation | April 7, 2015

Personally, I’d find it difficult to train a “regular” domesticated horse to do this much, in front of a crowd, without a bridle, in 130 days…

Madison Shambaugh and Terk Shine Bright at Virginia Horse Festival

by Horses in the South | April 2, 2015

Madison Shambaugh and her mustang “Terk” stopped the show on Saturday evening with their freestyle performance at…

“Mustang Maddy” and Her Mustang Terk

by Cavalor University | March 31, 2015

Wild. Free. Spirit. Beauty. We see in the mustangs what we hope to see in ourselves. This, I believe, is what draws us towards …

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