Horsemen, and women, gain master status

Published 5:01 pm Saturday, September 8, 2007

NATCHEZ — Horse owners from the Miss-Lou recently had the opportunity to receive extensive hands-on, in-depth education and training in a wide variety of topics through the Extension Service Master Horseman Program offered by the LSU AgCenter and Mississippi State University Extension Services.

Classes were taught on Tuesday nights from 6-9 p.m. at locations throughout the Natchez area including Adams County Equestrian Center, Walter and Tiffany Davis’s Arena, and The Double “C” Ranch in Kingston. Classes started in June and lasted through August allowing participants to attend weekly classes on a wide variety of topics. Each class lasted three hours, which included about one hour of lecture and two hours of demonstrations with hands-on training.

Classes began each week with a test to demonstrate the retention of previous class materials along with a full meal. Ann Davis, Wilkinson County extension director, and Joe Bairnsfather, Concordia Parish County agent, provided meals.

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The topics for lectures each week included; saddle and bit maintenance, exercise and conditioning, selection and evaluation, health care, dental care, nutrition and other relevant areas.

Presenters for the lectures included Dr. Preston Buff, Mississippi State University equine specialist, Dr. Debbie Guillory, Miss-Lou Veterinary Clinic, David Carter, Adams County extension director, Roy Stewart, saddle maker, along with other LSU and MSU extension personnel.

The training sessions were taught by David Carter, Barney McCallister, McCallister Equine Training Center, and one session had a special presenter Gustavo Valdavia, one of Central America’s most accomplished trainers from Honduras.

Participants brought their own horses to class to make the training sessions more interactive and allowed owners and horses to learn new skills and practice new methods with instructors on hand for advice and assistance.

The training sessions started beginning with simple groundwork and riding fundamentals and got more complicated each week.

At the end of the class, participants were completing difficult maneuvers such as sidepasses, turns, stops, vertical backing, jumps and more. Training demonstrations were also merged into the class focusing on topics such as hobbling, trailer loading, round pen work, lead changes, knot tying and more. All training sessions focused on general horsemanship for all disciplines and events regardless whether it is English or western.

A minimum of 21 total hours of combined training through both lectures and riding was required by participants to graduate.

Throughout the year, class participants will have the opportunity to attend follow up sessions, trips, and clinics located in Mississippi and the southern United States. After completing the class participants will have the opportunity to attend follow-up sessions.

These learning opportunities are designed to continue learning new skills and techniques to advance their horsemanship after class completion.

The next Master Horseman Program is tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2008.

A maximum of 15 riders will be accepted for the course and auditor spots will also be available. For more information on the Master Horseman Program contact David Carter at the Adams County Extension Service at 601-445-8201 or by e-mail at