By Susan Winslow
There’s no denying the majesty and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. With four mountain ranges, swift flowing rivers, plains, plateaus, and a dramatic coastline, it’s a special place. It’s also more than a 20-hour drive to most major horse show venues, and averages 43 inches of precipitation spread out over 7-8 months of each year. These were factors Shannon McCulloch and her husband, Tom Bacon, weighed carefully before making the decision to partner with fellow Oregonians, Molly and Maria Salazar, to purchase the former Equine Salt Water Therapy Ranch in Pilot Point, Texas.
McCulloch recalls, “We were getting tired of the cold, rainy weather in Oregon and had contemplated moving to a milder climate for a while now. Another factor that played a part in the decision was the extremely long distances that we had to drive to get to the shows.” The choice to partner with the Salazar family was an easy one. McCulloch says, “Maria has ridden with me since she was 11 years old and her mother, Molly, has been a rock of support for all those years.”
The Salazar family isn’t the only longtime client of McCulloch that has benefitted from her strategic focus on all-around events. With the pillars of her program including superior attention to detail, development of a rider’s strengths and improvement of weaknesses, and motivational mantras for life outside of the show pen, MTS is a favorite among Youth, Amateur, and Select riders of all ages. In fact, the first page of the MTS ad lineup for the Quarter Horse Congress in 2021 included the following quote: “Look in the mirror. That’s your competition right there.”
McCulloch is a well-established coach, trainer, and multiple World Champion with a strong reputation for turning out champion horses and riders in all-around competition. But the MTS training philosophy goes far beyond success in the show pen, because McCulloch desires to “Create Champions in Life.” Following this theme, developing new skills in her youth riders and recognizing their achievements outside of the arena is equally important. MTS youth client, Kaitlyn Bloom, was a 4-H Champion Master Showman at the Oregon State Fair in 2021. Another youth, Jacqueline Potwora, was awarded a $1,000 AQHA Foundation Scholarship during the AQHA Youth World Show in 2021.