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Melinda Balint
Assistant Trainer

From my earliest days, animals have played a major part in my life. I was fortunate enough to have parents who offered encouragement and never tried to dissuade me from my passion. Growing up as an Army brat and moving about the world rather frequently, did not always lend itself to stability but it did provide numerous new opportunities. Because I could not always bring animals with me, I would beg and borrow and work for anyone who would let me ride their horse or walk their dog. If there was a dog event nearby I tried to attend to watch, to learn, to participate. Animals are a way of life with me. A home is not complete without at least numerous dogs in the house and horses in the barn.

My childhood dogs were mostly Hounds and Newfoundlands. I competed in the Junior Showmanship and Conformation rings and in the Water Rescue aspect with the Newfies. The Newfs were my constant companions at the beach. They were my lifeguard, protector and floatation device all wrapped into one package. What more could a kid want? The hounds and I dabbled in obedience, tracking and some hunting. (Hounds and obedience- definitely a great patience testing endeavor.)

I have been riding horses since I could walk. I never went through the “I want a pony stage” it was “I want my own Horse!” My wish came true at the age of 10 when I was able to buy my first horse. From there my “Equinitis” was even more insatiable. I have enjoyed competing in English and Western pleasure, gymkhana, hunters, jumpers, dressage, three day eventing, endurance, pony club, dabbled in polo, roping, rodeo, stock horse events and pretty much whatever other horse event was available. I have been a pony club instructor and have had a business training horses, teaching animal husbandry and riding instructor for years. I have worked at both flat Thoroughbred tracks and Standardbred harness tracks. By the age of twelve, I was riding and training and showing other people’s horses on a regular basis. With the help of my trainer and mentor Letty, we would get horses off the track to rehabilitate them and train them for sale to new homes for a second career. This passion of giving Thoroughbreds a second chance at life continues to this day. (This is evidenced by the several Thoroughbreds munching hay in my barn at the moment!)

I earned a BS degree from UC Davis in Animal Science. My experience has led me to work and manage breeding farms, ranches and numerous animal facilities. My animal handling has led to me work as an animal health technician both in large and small animal practices. My stock experience includes working with dairy and beef cattle, sheep, ducks, pigs, lab animals, birds, cats and really pretty much whatever else belongs in the animal kingdom. I also run a company called Equithotics, Inc that offers such specialty products as Sneakers for Horses ™ and our orthotically designed rasp handles among other products and consulting services.

As previously mentioned, I grew up working with mostly Hounds and Newfies. After finishing college, Mikky entered my life. She was a labhound cross, who from five weeks of age was my companion, my shadow, and my assistant. Mikky was my extra hand working with livestock and in giving lessons. She kept all the stock inline and would let me know the second one was not behaving properly. She was so smart and intuitive that many times she knew what I was thinking before I even did. Working with her was truly an honor. When she passed away at a way too short 14 years, I started my search for a breed that would let me continue working livestock. My searches finally lead me to the Belgian Sheepdog breed. They have the intelligence, the athletic ability and the intuitive instincts that I wanted. I now have three Belgian Sheepdogs in my life (Like potato chips, one is just not enough!) They are my farmdogs and my companions. My Belgians and I have fun competing in agility, tracking, obedience, and herding. Herding has become a lifestyle with my Belgians. A day is not a good day unless herding some type of stock is involved. Many years ago, I was fortunate to meet Debbie Pollard, a herding trainer that was willing to work with Belgian Sheepdogs (one of the other breeds!). Through her guidance and encouragement, my dogs and I continue to work together towards becoming better stock handlers and having fun at herding. I have always greatly enjoyed teaching and helping people with their animals. To me, teaching is a way to say Thanks to all those people who have helped me through the years.

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