“Mary Flood was recommended to me as an instructor many years ago by Major Anders Lindgren. To this day, I thank him for introducing us! Over the past two decades I have trained with Mary, hosted clinics for her and have sent some of my own students of various disciplines to train with her at her top-notch facility, Wildfire Farm in Virginia. Thanks to her truly exceptional teaching skills, I have progressed through the levels, improved my students and any horses in training. Mary has a keen eye for evaluating horse and rider and the necessary “tools” gained from years of experience to improve what she sees. Her most amazing gift is her teaching. There are many great riders who cannot effectively communicate. Mary can teach the same thing in 10 different ways, so you really get it somehow! I know for a fact that without her clear teaching skills, classical knowledge and all-around impeccable horsemanship, I would not have been able to obtain my USDF Associate Instructor Classification.”
"Mary can teach the same thing in 10 different ways, so you really get it somehow!"
“Mary Flood is a gifted and dedicated teacher whose systematic approach benefits both horse and rider. She gives 100% attention to every student and horse who walk in her ring. Every lesson is filled with substance, and I know that Mary not only can but will help me to reach my riding goals.”
Sharon Matthews and JR
“My horse, Wiecor VA, came to live at Wildfire Farm and train with Mary over five years ago as an underweight and rather unpromising five-year old. He was beginning to crib, and despite his pedigree, showed a very low level of interest in dressage. He seemed to relax and feel at home immediately; the cribbing ceased for good the first day that he was there. Right from the start, Mary seemed to have so much belief in him. It was as if she saw what wasn’t there yet, but could be.
“Everything that she believed has come true. He is doing so well at Second Level, and now beginning Third Level, he has been high scorer in Musical Freestyle for the last two years at Morven Park. He has developed a real love of his work, a genuine sense of partnership with his rider and a lovely presence in the show ring. She has not only trained him superbly herself, but she has also given wonderful lessons to his riders. No two lessons are ever the same, but they all have the same qualities: lack of undue pressure, attention to bringing out the best natural gaits of the horse before asking for precise collections and transitions, brief and undemanding work on advanced movements, even for horses at lower levels, and praise for the horse when he learns to perform a movement correctly without demanding many repetitions.
“Mary has also given excellent advice for every aspect of Wiecor’s care, including the proper tack, saddle and padding, the appropriate diet, the right companion horse for turnout and outdoor galloping sessions to give him the strength and stamina needed for more advanced work. Mary checks his overall health carefully ever day, and she reliably administers prescribed medications. Now, he is in the prime of his life, glowing with health, strength and happiness, a horse whom the judges often call ‘lovely’ and ‘talented.’ He has become the horse she felt he could be.
“In addition, Wildfire Farm is just beautiful, with many gardens, unusual trees and lovely views of the Blue Ridge. Everyone who comes, whether to board, trailer in for a lesson or attend a clinic is welcomed with warmth and sincerity. Often, lasting friendships develop as we work together with our horses. I don’t think it would be possible to find another farm that could equal Wildfire in the excellence of its training of both horse and rider, the beauty of its surroundings, the happiness and health of the horses who call it home, and the friendship and warmth awaiting those who are lucky enough to find their way there.
During the five years that my horse has been trained by Mary, she has brought out the very best in him, far beyond what I thought would be possible.”
March Enders and Wiecor
“I wish I'd started riding with Mary when I was younger.”
"Over a long and diverse riding career, I've ridden with top hunter/jumper, eventing and dressage instructors, and Mary is my absolute favorite. Her depth of knowledge and ability to communicate this to students at all levels is truly exceptional. Lessons are always fun and appropriately challenging for horse and rider. She helped me resolve issues with a very difficult horse, and the results have been remarkable: the horse has been transformed, and I'm a far more effective rider. I wish I'd started riding with Mary when I was younger!"
Liza Broadbent and Tico
"I have worked with Mary for a number of years on a number of different horses and have had successful results with each and every one of them. Mary is a patient and fair teacher and a true role model for me. I have been so fortunate to have her guidance throughout the years and look forward to sharing many more successes with her in the future."
"I don't know if I can put into words my thanks for what you have done for both me and my mare, Cristal. I am amazed at the progress she is making using the techniques you taught us. I am so impressed at how easily she has been able to transfer what she learns from the in-hand work to work in the saddle. Sometimes the smallest adjustments make a huge difference and you certainly have a gift for identifying what is most important at any given stage.
Cristal's rhythm and tempo have greatly improved, and she is starting to find the connection. There is a noticeable difference in her suppleness, especially on her stiffer side, and her frame is getting steadier and more correct for her level. Of greatest importance to me is your concern for the well being of the horse. Mares can be tricky but Cristal has remained a happy and willing partner; that is a great tribute to you and your methods.
I am always in awe at your vast knowledge, your never-ending quest to learn more, and your ability to clearly explain whatever you are teaching to the rider or the horse! Thanks to you I am starting to get a glimpse of my diamond in the rough, and I can't wait for you to see her again. Words cannot express our gratitude."
Brian and Cristal
"I met Mary Flood several years ago and watched her train other riders and horses. It was immediately apparent that she was a gifted teacher with a caring attitude towards the horse. Having taken many riding lessons by that time, I was struck by her approach, which was not to so much as teach a person to ride as to teach a person to train their horse. It was also very apparent that one of her primary goals was to create a ‘thinking’ rider. These approaches were unique to me, and something I longed to experience.
Eventually I was able to take lessons with Mary soon after I bought a young four-year-old Han/TB/Perch gelding. The lessons with Mary revitalized my desire to learn as much as possible about dressage and horsemanship in general. The lessons were a joy. I learned so much about horse communication, training exercises, how a horse learns, equine biomechanics, the mental aspects of riding, how to correctly fit tack, the importance of rider position and a myriad of other things.
In time I was fortunate enough to be able to move Lance (Sir Lancelot) to Mary Flood’s stable at Wildfire Farm. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I am thankful for each day that I am there. I could never have made so much progress in my riding and in my understanding of horses, if I had not been in such an encouraging and educational atmosphere. My horse has blossomed under Mary’s care and training, and has become a talented dressage horse. My riding skills continue to improve with each lesson. Lance and I also trail ride, pop over the occasional jump, long-line and generally have fun."
Carlson and Lance
Natalie Jacoby and Rocket
“In 2008, I brought my three-year-old, Belotti, to train with Mary. Belotti had limited ground work and barely knew how to longe the day he arrived at Wildfire Farm. Mary trained Belotti and me from the first moment he had a saddle on his back to our first licensed show, one year later, in Lexington, VA, where we scored 71.2% at Training Level 4 and 74% at Morven Park Recognized Show. Mary’s unending patience and deep respect for every horse show in the meticulous care Belotti receives and the progress we make every day.”
“Mary's unending patience and deepest respect for
every horse show in the meticulous care Belotti receives
and the progress we make every day.”
“It has been my privilege and joy to ride with you. I can't thank you enough for coming down here to do clinics with us. You have a way of imparting your knowledge, to me, your student, so that it all makes sense. I then can take what you have taught, put it into practice and build upon that after you are gone. I know too that what you teach me I can also pass on to my students. I have watched them benefit from that new knowledge. So, thank you again, Mary. You are the best!
P.S. What fun to still be riding my 24-year-old horse, Wiggy, and have you tell me that you would like to hitch up a trailer and take him home with you. Thank you.”
Elizabeth Jacobs and Roscoe
“While looking for my next new horse, I had the privilege of leasing Mary Flood’s retired Grand Prix schoolmaster, Excellent (XL). I am a very timid rider and XL took care of me each and every ride. He is so well trained and, most importantly for me, unflappable. I have learned so much from Mary. She really knows how to explain concepts and makes sense out of what seemed to be so complicated. After about a year, Mary located my dream horse, Rochet. He is a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Rubinstein. He couldn’t be more suitable for me. He is well trained and has a super temperament. I am having so much fun learning on him. I hope that with Mary’s help I will be able to move up the levels with my new partner. Thanks Mary!"
Natalie Jacoby and Rochet
"I moved to Harpers Ferry, WV in 2002. Originally from New England, I had good dressage trainers at my fingertips, however, now that I was out of my home territory and was about to bring up my very own horse, I was having a difficult time finding a reputable trainer, someone who actually knew what they were doing, someone who had not only the education and experience, but the show miles to prove it. In 2005, while on vacation, I decided to use the internet to find a trainer and came across Wildfire Farm. What a coincidence—my horse’s name is Wildfire!
I gave Mary a call and went out to look at the farm. I soon learned she was teaching my event trainer, Sharon White. I figured, if you find your trainer’s trainer, you must be at the right place! Since then, Mary has helped me bring my young Arabian Mustang, “Wildfire” along. Many have overlooked Wildfire because he wasn’t the big warmblood type. At the time, he was a scrawny little three-year-old with a strong will to do anything and everything but what I wanted him to do. I can’t tell you how many times he ran away with me in Mary’s indoor! Yet, not once did Mary dismiss our potential.
Under Mary’s instruction, we have soared in competition rings, catching the eyes of judges with Wildfire’s amazing gaits. Our slew of blues has everything to do with Mary Flood. You get what you pay for in the horse world. Cutting corners and taking the less expensive route is an option, but at what cost? Incorrect and quick-fix training?
If you want to work with someone who will show you the correct way to ride, see Mary. If you want to work with someone who brings out the best in you and your horse, no matter what breed or background, see Mary. If you are like me and want to achieve success in the competition ring, don’t waste anymore time and money. See Mary and be ready to soar!”
Jess Howard and Arizonas Wildfire
"Don't waste anymore time and money.
See Mary and be ready to soar!"
Jess Howard and Arizonas Wildfire
"[Moving my horse to Wildfire Farm]
has been one of the greatest experiences
of my life, and I am thankful for
each day that I am there."