Michelle “Cash” Axmaker
Michelle is a Native Texan and in true Texas form, grew up on her family’s horse ranch near Houston. She learned the value of hard work and dedication early in life, traveling the country showing Competitive Quarter Horses. This lifestyle began her life long passion for animal training and behavior.
She has worked as a Zookeeper and Trainer at several AZA accredited zoos where she took care of many rare and endangered species. Michelle developed training and enrichment programs for exotic animals and spent her zoo career educating the public about wildlife conservation. She has worked with incredible animals like venomous snakes, crocodiles over 14 feet, tigers, vampire bats, koalas, and birds of prey. She has even had the opportunity to hand raise orphaned zoo babies.
Michelle transitioned into the Canine field through the Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base. She loved working with the MWDs as well as active duty and veterans from all Military branches. Michelle then moved on to work with Nationally competitive Field Trial Dogs. At home, she enjoys the company of her two Boston Terriers, Otis and Olive.
Michelle spends her free time in the barn. She is a multiple World and National Champion Equestrian. She breeds, raises and trains English disciplined horses.
Michelle is a talented animal trainer and has a passion for people as well. You may notice that she wears her “heart” on her sleeve. She believes the powerful healing properties that animals possess are useful tools for trauma recovery.
I am driven by my passion for animal behavior. The science behind it is fascinating! I believe animals speak to us in a language formed by strong, individual bonds. The famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man,” I believe to be true for all animals. They are able to understand, accept and love us at our lowest moments. Dogs especially, provide unconditional love.
I experienced a traumatic event that resulted in PTSD. I find that my personal traumas allow me to relate to the feelings many people hold inside. My therapy is done on the back of a horse, where I let all of the worry disappear while I put my trust into a one thousand pound “beast of burden.” There is a long history of drug and alcohol abuse within my family members and loved ones. I understand that pain and it is my hope to provide healing through our 4 legged heroes.