When Amanda Lowrey saddled up for her first riding lesson with Taylor McIntosh, the teacher and fledgling equine enthusiast had a long ride ahead.
“I didn’t realize how green I was until I started lessons,” said Lowrey, who lives in Notasulga with her husband, Tom.
McIntosh’s passion, confidence and expertise convinced Lowrey the 33-year-old trainer can teach just about anyone.
“It goes beyond horses,” Lowrey said. “He helped me better develop who I am. It’s a confidence-builder that goes beyond the arena.”
If that recommendation doesn’t sell future clients, there’s McIntosh’s title as the 2014 Alabama Extreme Mustang Makeover Champion.
“It’s 100 days of hell,” recalled McIntosh, who had about three months to build a relationship with and train a young, wild American mustang.
A month before the contest, McIntosh sent other horses he was training home. For up to eight hours a day, he focused on gaining the trust of Owen, named after a childhood friend who died from cancer.
“It gave me a why,” McIntosh said. “That’s why we never gave up. There was a deeper meaning. So many people wanted us to do well.”
McIntosh was raised in Helena in a family of educators. A wrestler in high school, teaching and coaching was the goal when he enrolled at Southern Union State Community College in Opelika. But the same low center of gravity that propelled him to wrestling victory was perfect for bull riding — the prizes of which lured McIntosh in, leaving lectures and labs in the dust.
When he wasn’t at rodeos, McIntosh worked at Wire Road Feed & Supply, where he met his future wife, Brandy, a member of Auburn’s equestrian team. The couple celebrated their 10th anniversary this year — and the second birthday of son Colt, aptly named given his father’s profession.
It wasn’t long before the drive-all-day, rodeo, repeat lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. With Brandy’s encouragement, McIntosh, who jokes he “couldn’t even sit on a horse,” spent a month with Al Dunning, a nationally respected horseman who develops champion horses and riders.
McIntosh soaked up wisdom from Dunning and started team roping, too. After seven years of hard work, he and horse Woodrow qualified for and competed in the U.S. Team Roping Championships National Finals in 2013.
Like McIntosh, Woodrow was initially a little rough around the edges. Especially considering the former owner’s parting comment, “When he starts bucking, get off.”
Returning to foundation work helped Woodrow buck his bad habit. It’s a technique McIntosh uses often, Lowrey said.
“We started from square one as if my horse and I didn’t have training,” said Lowrey, who took a couple tumbles and nursed a sprained wrist before reaching out to McIntosh.
A skilled farrier, McIntosh initially worked with trainer Steven Freeman, who now works out of Tuskegee. Freeman encouraged him to start his own training business, and McIntosh Equine was born.
McIntosh takes on unbroken or problem horses as well as mounts that need a refresher course. He also gives private lessons near his home in Lee County’s Waverly and conducts clinics throughout the country where riders learn to train their horses. When competing or presenting, McIntosh proudly wears badges from sponsors Zoetis, DP Saddlery, España Silk and Nutrena Feeds.
The McIntoshes say they’re committed to a debt-free, family oriented lifestyle. Brandy is a mostly-stay-at-home mom and works occasionally as a vet tech. She also manages the business end of McIntosh Equine.
Even with multiple horseman championships under his belt and countless recommendations from clients, McIntosh stays humble and true to his roots — helping horses, helping people and staying profitable.
“If I can do those things, I’ll do it all day long,” he said.
Visit mcintoshequine.com to learn more.