Tonya, I would like to send you a Big "Thank You" for taking on "Trendy" to help me out and was very impressed with all you did in riding and training him. I don't use outside trainers as I've never found one yet I liked or could trust and always do my own, but I feel very good about you and all I saw from videos and heard from Gary. I hope to use you more if you are able, as that would take a load off me here at times. Trendy is doing well and also looks great in his weight! Very appreciative of your working with me on him and hopefully others. Definitely a fan and happy to tell others. Gary and I both appreciate working with you. Have a great season.
Wendy Malone, Spotted Fawn Paint Ranch, Victor Montana - 4/13/2014
"My daughter's horse is a quarter-horse/friesian cross named Zia. Basic groundwork had been done with her, but when it came time to train Zia further, we sent her to Shining Mountain Thoroughbreds. The facilities were spacious, beautiful and safe. Tonya took Zia's personality into consideration (a spirited, bold filly) as well as our particular needs, and in 90 days we have a horse that is absolutely amazing! Tonya progressively trained Zia with the result that Zia now is not just able to be ridden, but looks for the answers from her rider if she is unsure. Because of Tonya's care in training, each step built on another and we have exactly the horse we dreamed of years ago! Thanks so much for the amazing work you did with our precious filly!" - Carole Paredes
"Over the past several years Tonya has broken and trained several colts for us. They come back well trained, mannered, and completely willing and calm. Most recently she foaled our mare, that is somewhat unpleasant, with insufficient milk, and saved the colt that would have died without her. She slept in the barn at foaling time, assisted, etc. I've been associated with horses for 70 years and NEVER have found anyone better with the horse than Tonya." - Cliff Trexler
"I moved to Shining Mountain Thoroughbred’s facility for two reasons: Briar Rose and Grania, my horses. It only took me about two visits to talk with Tonya McCluskey to realize here was a barn owner/manager that I could trust. She not only listened to me – but more importantly, heard what I was saying.
Briar Rose is 31 and a half years old and requires a special diet – one that means the manager needs to not only order her food – but prepare soaked pellets at each feeding. She also has food and medicine allergies, so it is vitally important that the barn manager be aware and mindful of these at all times. Tonya so closely monitors Rose’s feeding requirements – I no longer worry about if it is being done correctly. She is also quick to notice when feed needs to be increased or cut.
As a true ‘equine senior’, Rose needs to be out in pasture, moving as much as possible but also needs to be with a group of horses that will not bully her as she can not move that quickly to get out of the way. Tonya’s careful selection of horses to put together in a pasture situation is cautious and carefully monitored for the introduction period. I was very pleased with the little grouping that came to be in ‘my pasture.’
Grania (aka Geep) is a racehorse/broodmare rescue. And while I’ve ridden for over 25 years – I was not prepared to deal with a very headstrong, opinionated, green TB mare! Here is where Tonya truly shines, her knowledge, experience and insights into TB behaviour.
Geep had come off the track and became a broodmare (read here: not ridden or handled) for four years. She was no longer wanted after her last foal – and that is when I purchased her. Things started out fine, but come winter and cold weather things went from decent to dangerous quickly. It reached the point of her rearing, striking and walking on her hind legs for 3 or 4 steps at a time on the lunge line. I quickly became too afraid to ride her.
At our initial meetings – I told Tonya all about the problems I was having with Geep and she offered several helpful suggestions before she’d even seen Geep. One big concern was that I couldn’t put weight on her. Tonya suggested some changes to Geep’s feeding routine – and in two months – Geep was filling out nicely and she continues to blossom.
The other problem was Geep’s behaviour under saddle. She would bolt across the arena, leaping in the air and kicking out. I needn’t mention how dangerous this was to me and anyone else who had the misfortune to be in the arena with us. Tonya offered to ride her for me which I gratefully accepted. After her many years of starting and riding young TB’s, Tonya quickly figured out what was going on, and what I needed to do to change the outcome.
Tonya made herself available whenever I was riding Geep and if I had ‘too much’ horse under me on any particular day, Tonya would get on and work Geep for awhile until she was more manageable, and then I’d get back on. Even now that I have a lovely, mostly manageable mare, Tonya is usually in the barn while I ride – which gives me the support I need to occasionally work through a “Geep episode” on my own now.
Geep also unfortunately is one of those mares who has difficult cycles. Tonya suggested I have the vet out to assure there was no infection or cysts on her ovaries. With those issues negated, Tonya helps me to keep track of Geep’s cycles so we know when her painful episodes may be part of a riding problem.
Tonya is so attuned to each horse’s behaviour, she notices and remarks when the stalls have been dirtier or more torn up than usual. She also monitors the horse’s water intake daily as she, bless her heart, does not use automatic waterers. Each stalled horse has two water buckets that are dumped and filled daily and refreshed if needed at dinner feed. The pasture horses have large tank waterers that are topped up each morning.
I travel frequently and used to have to ask my barn friends to keep an eye out on my horses while I was gone and just hope that it all went well. Now I can travel in a relaxed frame of mind, knowing that Tonya not only gives my horses excellent care – but she cares for them. They are not just her job – they are individuals that have likes and dislikes and she prides herself (and justly so) on having a barn full of contented and happy horses.
I am one happy boarder – and anyone can contact me for further testimonial of the level of care Tonya McCluskey gives." - Beth Nyberg
I met Tonya through a friend of mine who recommended her for training my 2 year old filly. I had worked with a couple of different trainers in the valley, investing a lot of time and money only to be disappointed in the results. After the experiences I had with these trainers I was very hesitant to put out the money for another. The previous trainers knew themselves how to get what they wanted from the horses but did not communicate to the student in an effective way that I could grasp so I could get the same results. Tonya is very good at breaking that down and explaining it so that it works for both the horse and student. I now have a soft and responsive horse that has done very well after 60 days of training. I would recommend Tonya to anyone who wants to understand how their body and the horse’s body can work together in harmony. - Mary Richardson
I’m a horsewoman and have been one for over 50 years. I spend time with my horse daily and also care for others’ horses if unable to tend to them themselves for some reason. I found myself unable to ride or even see my mare for a period of four months while recovering from back surgery early in 2009 and Tonya McCluskey was recommended to me to ride and care for her until I could return. It wasn’t easy for me to let someone else be her caregiver, even for this short time. Tonya and I met several times to see how the two of them would get along and I was delighted to see my very opinionated girl respond so well to Tonya. We moved her to Tonya’s facility and even though I was perfectly satisfied and happy at my former barn, I chose to stay on at Shining Mountain indefinitely. Tonya has a wonderful way with horses and understands how to handle them firmly with gentleness. Working around horses all of one’s life infuses the gift of horse sense on that individual and she has learned well the wisdom of horses ~ and continues to listen.
Tonya personally handles every aspect of her operation including feeding, mucking, breeding & foaling, pasture combination/coordination and breaking/training of young horses. She hears my concerns if my aging mare is dropping weight and will discuss feeding plans with me, listens for and tells me when she comes or goes to the pasture in a listless manner and also shares the joy we all experience at finding our horses higher than kites when feeling frisky and good. I am confident my horse is well taken care of. I can take a trip or be away for a few days without worry or burdening friends with extra duties. I know she’s in good hands. Sincerely, Betsy Merrell
Such a welcoming and friendly atmosphere! This is the place to learn about horses with wonderful people! The Indoor is fantastic and Tonya always takes the best care of her friends- two and four legged! Alex Ambelang
Fantastic boarding facility, skilled horsewoman/owner and talented visiting instructors... Nan Keiser Christianson
Tonya is an amazing horsewoman! And her facility is wonderful, too.
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