Michelle Wilson's passion for horses began at age 13. Until then, she had been a city girl before her mother bought her riding lessons for her birthday. Michelle recalled, “I spent every day riding,” after her first ride.
Michelle and her husband, Will, have built their cozy farm, Lucky W Ranch in Billings, Mo., around their passion for horses, animals and the pursuit of the simple purpose of enjoying their lives.
Early on, Michelle began offering riding lessons at the Camp Creek Ranch in Highlandville, Mo., where she worked  in exchange for lessons. At age 16, Michelle began working as an assistant trainer and then assisted in summer camps and riding lessons. Much of what the Wilson's do at Lucky W Ranch reflects Michelle's earlier training at Camp Creek Ranch. They provide similar services and Michelle attributes Camp Creek for sparking her passion for horses and farming.
Lucky W Ranch is a unique operation because it does so much on a small scale. Michelle describes her ranch as “small, local and an all-around working ranch.”
She attributes the success of her ranch to the fact that "it is more personable, it works on an individual basis.” The employees at Lucky W Ranch consist of Michelle and her husband and both are eager to do the work. They provide riding lessons, horse training, grooming, summer camps and many other services. Michelle is the teacher at the ranch. She merges natural and traditional horsemanship to create her own style and techniques with the horses.
Michelle considers the horse a partner in the training and never uses pain as a part of the learning process. She forms a special bond with her horses and that bond is one of the factors involved in Michelle's gentle and successful approach.
Michelle's first horse, Amigo, is a lifelong friend. When Michelle first acquired Amigo it was apparent that he had been neglected due to an injury he sustained while being utilized as a race horse. He was starved and Michelle took it upon herself to “fatten him up.” She rode him, taught him barrel racing, bending poles, how to lay down and hug. And while she was teaching him, he taught her about horses, and that knowledge was priceless. Another horse that Michelle has grown fond of is a paint colt, Stormy, born from her favorite mare. “Stormy came out of the womb loving me,” Michelle said. Where most babies are tepid around humans, Stormy was not.
Along with horses, Michelle and Will have 40 goats (though that number fluctuates often), a few cows, cats, dogs, a donkey and a pony. Michelle has two kinds of goats, miniature and dairy. She milks the dairy goats and sells the milk and makes goat cheese. She also has many horses that are mainly on pasture all day. The horses that she uses for training are fed on a mixture of hay and grain to keep them in their best health and shape.
Although Michelle has been to World Champion Barrel Racer Martha Josey's Ranch in Texas about five times, Michelle says that she prefers to stay local because she finds that the local scene is more about passion than about politics. Her and her students attend mostly speed events in barrel racing, pole bending and team roping. Michelle's goals aren't for cash prizes but for essential experience for her students.
The summer camps that the Wilsons offer are week-long day camps where they see about three to four kids per week. Students can come to Lucky W Ranch with a packed lunch and spend the day with the Wilsons learning the basic care and information about horses. They will ride during the hottest part of the day to a creek bed to cool off and enjoy their lunches. Students will also train on obstacle courses and with races. Michelle offers various levels of instruction: basic, intermediate and advanced.
Lucky W Ranch is about passion and Michelle said she has one goal in mind – to help anyone who is interested in horses and goats pursue their passion. Michelle said, “I really enjoy my little farm, I enjoy teaching people. It is not the money that motivates me but the passion.”


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