Strong Foundations: Army Veteran builds horse training business on principles of horsemanship, respect and trust
From a young age, Megan McKnight inherently loved horses. Over the years, this love has brought her to where she is now, owning her own business – Iron Horse Foundation Training located in Laramie – training and shoeing horses.
“When I was really young, probably like six or seven, I remember praying to God asking for a horse after touching the neighbor’s horses,” explains Megan. “A few years later, my mom started dating a guy who traded horses. He’d get them, mess around with them and try to resell them, and this is how I really got started in it.”
Iron Horse Foundation Training officially opened their doors as a full-time business in 2022. Megan has spent her life around horses, but the stars finally aligned for her to make this her full-time career.
She spent seven years in the army, and after she got out, she went to school, got married and started her family. After her husband’s death in 2016, it took her a few years before she could finally pursue her passion full time.
From getting her start on what she calls “sorry broke” horses, Megan established what she identifies as her four core values of breaking horses – her safety, the horse’s safety, for the horse to learn something quickly and to remember it.
By establishing these values with every horse she works with, Megan hopes to provide a strong foundation for a partnership when the horse returns to their owner.
“I want this person to be able to feel confident about their horse, knowing little things they can do to maintain this foundation,” says Megan.
Megan takes on a limited number of horses at a time, emphasizing quality over quantity in regards to training.
Each horse comes to her for six weeks, and she consistently works with them every day for the first 15 days, then allows them to rest. She believes working with them consistently over those six weeks is the key to success, regardless if the horse is young or old.
At the end of the six weeks, Megan offers the owner a unique opportunity to spend the day with her and their horse. She takes the owner through the ins and outs of what has been accomplished, and helps to set them up for success by showing them how to continue foundational practices once they are home.
“I find a lot of people are never afforded this opportunity when they send a horse to a trainer. Many people want to understand what we’re doing and are passionate and interested in it, which is why they’re sending the horse to a trainer in the first place,” says Megan. “For me, it’s not just about training the horse, it’s about helping to cultivate this relationship.”
When asked what advice she would give to others who are interested in pursuing training horses or becoming a farrier, her advice is straight forward – knowledge is power.
“People should surround themselves with other people who are doing it. Nothing beats hands-on experience. Find someone who is willing to take the time to actually show you things. People need to learn how to be a horseman first, and the rest follows,” says Megan. “Horsemanship is a dying art, and this is something that needs to change.”
Megan emphasizes the importance of building trust and respect between herself and the horse and helping the owner to build this same level of trust and respect with the horse once it is home.
She says working on basic horsemanship with the horse is crucial and should always be top priority as a horse owner. Then, if they also want to compete or show, this can come second.
“It takes wanting to learn to be a better horseman. If a person wants to change their horse, they have to change themselves first,” explains Megan.
In addition to working as a farrier and horse trainer, Megan also offers riding lessons to people.
For more information on Iron Horse Foundation Training or to get in contact with Megan, visit her website at ironhorsefoundationtraining.com.
Tressa Lawrence is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.