Matthew Hourihan


While horses were part of my childhood it was not until as an adult, I met the horse that would change my life and began an amazing journey into horsemanship. An adopted off-the-track thoroughbred named Los Solano (we called him “Champ”). Champ had not been trained beyond a racehorse and pony horse. He stood 17’2h which made lessons and training even more necessary. As fate would have it an amazing horsewoman named Laura Wilton came into my life. The first time I saw her work with Champ I knew I had much to learn and spent all my time learning, reading, watching, and following horsemanship.

This journey of horses continued a year later with a trip to Compton California to rescue a Mare and her Colt (soon to be named Joey). While the mare was rehomed to an amazing family, Joey became my project. Today Joey is an amazing Quarter Horse a true Straight Up Bridle horse!

Through mentorships and guidance from many amazing Horseman and women across a variety of disciplines I found my home. I chose the California Vaquero style of developing stock horses. Learning from folks who had learned from Tom and Bill Dorrance and Ray Hunt I became a stronger and better horseman. I have attended every type of training from “stockman ship”, roping, cutting, dressage and cowboy dressage. I took it all in. I continue to learn from others and grow.

During my 6 years in California, I worked with troubled horses from every discipline. I learned from each one and gained a reputation for fixing horses. For me horses have given me a great sense of purpose and joy.  Along with challenge and struggle that each troubled horse presented I grew more aware and curious. I now understand that as I became more open, accepting, and willing in my horse work I also became a better person.

My family purchased land in Maine a few years back and I returned to assist in building the Ranch. However, it was not long before life took me back West for a year in Utah. I worked at a performance horse ranch with 80 head of horses and between 80-100 roping cattle. I was able to start two dozen colts and halter break 30-40 weanlings and yearlings. Branding season and being able to, as often as we could, get out to gather and rope wild cattle were some of the perks to the job.

A trainer riding at our horse ranch

Perhaps most special on this journey was my experience with Equine Therapy. I was afforded the opportunity to immerse myself in a model of equine therapy, H3. I worked with horses and troubled teenagers with this model. I learned so much with this therapeutic model.  Taking my colts and yearlings to work with troubled teenagers through equine therapy was an amazing and truly wonderful experience. I came full circle in my new understanding as to how horses have impacted my life. I have become a better person because of my work with horses!  I am confident now that I can share both my horsemanship skills to save troubled horses and my personal journey to assist people in their lives.  I intend to do both at both Los Solano Ranch and Dark Horse Ranch!