Accident alters horse trainer’s approach

Freedom New Mexico: Karl Terry Michael Richardson, right, answers questions asked by Janice Prescott of Portales following his“Enlightened Horsemanship” seminar Tuesday at the N.M. Ag Expo.

By Karl Terry: Freedom New Mexico

PORTALES — Michael Richardson has been at ease working with horses from a young age, but a life-changing event reshaped his approach to interacting with horses and launched a career working with horse lovers.

Richardson, a paraplegic horse trainer from Hico, Texas, taught two seminars Tuesday at the N.M. Ag Expo in Portales. The crowd’s interest was obvious as Richardson remained in the saddle talking to people with questions well after seminar.

“It was a great show, great people,” Richardson said. “I’m just happy to be here and happy to share.”

Tom and Janice Prescott of Portales were among those horse owners who had lots of questions for Richardson.

“I’ve learned a lot more from him than I have in the last few years here,” Janice Prescott said. “Just because he’s working with his mind.”

When he was 20, Richardson was involved in a motor vehicle crash that nearly cost him his life and left him a paraplegic. Five weeks after his 1986 accident, doctors OK’d a therapeutic horseback ride. According to his Web site, that ride was all Richardson needed to motivate him to return to an active and optimistic life.

He prepared himself for his future career at the Equine Studies Program at Parkland College in Illinois. That’s also where he met his wife, Tiffany, whom he said is his partner in the business.

While he once relied heavily on his physical strength and abilities to work with horses, he said he had to adapt his techniques by thinking through problems from his perspective as well as that of the horse to find a method that works for both.

“More times than not, horses have a people problem, not the other way around,” Richardson said. “You need to develop a partnership between the horse and rider. A horse has to want to do this.”

His seminars and training are geared toward creating a harmonious balance between horse and human — developing them into “one mind, one body.”

Roosevelt County Extension Agent Patrick Kircher said the response to Richardson’s program has been positive.

“Even folks with a lot of horse experience said they came away with something,” Kircher said. “He brings a unique perspective, both as a person and a horse trainer.”

9 a.m. — Expo and exhibits open
10 a.m. — Working Dog Clinic, Orin Barnes, Canyon, Texas, Show Arena
10:30 a.m. — Alternative Crop Use and Production for Biofuels, Can New Mexico be a major player?, Dr. Mark Marsalis and Dr. Sangu Angadi, NMSU Extension Agronomist and Crop Physiologist, Dairy Building
10:30 a.m. — Eat Smart Cooking, Connie Moyers, Roosevelt County Extension Home Economist, Cacahuate Room, Jake Lopez Convention Center
10:30 a.m. — Antique Tractor Games
11 a.m. — Antique Tractor Parade, Midway
Noon — Lunch, Bum Steer BBQ, $10
1:30 p.m. — Working Dog Clinic, Orin Barnes, Canyon, Texas, Show Arena
1:30 p.m. — Trichomoniasis in New Mexico, Dr. John Wenzel, NMSU Extension Veterinarian, Dairy Building
2 p.m. — Antique Tractor Parade
3 p.m. — Premium Grade and Registered Dairy Heifer Sale, Portales Livestock, Sale Tent
5 p.m. — Expo closes