Tennessee Master Horse Program


As a young Extension Agent working for The Cooperative Extension Service at The University of Tennessee I was given the opportunity, at least in part, to choose a focus area for my programming efforts. One of my selections was an easy one, to find a way to give back even more to the equine community that had been so generous to me. As a middle school student I had taken advantage, alongside an adult 4-H Horse Project Volunteer Leader, of a six week horse owner education program designed to improve the knowledge and skills base of its participants. Believing that it could be of benefit to both the youth and adults that I served, I liked the idea of re-visiting this or a similar program during my own career in Extension.

As a student, anxious to immerse myself in all things horse, my first equine “short course” was an exciting opportunity to add to my mostly home grown knowledge about horses. As I had grown older and increased my level of education I had served as a volunteer leader in the 4-H Horse Project but now, as an adult charged with the responsibility of working with 4-H youth, I knew that I wanted to provide similar opportunities to those living in the county where I now worked. Though I had not attended a similar seminar in many years, I quickly made organizing one a top priority. To my delight, the course I had organized met the level of success with both the youth and adult participants that I had experienced while attending the program many years ago.

Over the years, as needs of the equine industry have changed and evolved, so has the statewide educational programming offered by UT Extension. Today, the newest equine program is called the “Tennessee Master Horse Program.”   Jennie Ivey, PhD, PAS, Assistant Professor, Extension Equine Specialist, The University of Tennessee Department of Animal Science oversees the program at the state level.  According to Dr. Ivey, “The TMHP was launched for public participation in October 2016. UT Extension has a strong presence in every county and does an excellent job of providing information to the public. The TMHP is a statewide program developed specifically for equine owners, business operators, and enthusiasts alike, and supplements the efforts from each of the counties individually.” Continue reading

2017 UT College of Veterinary Medicine Horse Owners Conference

If you missed yesterday’s UT College of Veterinary Medicine’s Horse Owners Conference the bad news is that you really missed something. There’s not a day in recent memory that I have learned so much. The theme for the conference was “Rehabilitate.Recover.Renew.” and renewing my knowledge and skills was exactly what I did. Just some of the interesting topics covered were: lameness, hoof care, “tying up,” diseases of the nasopharynx and larynx, performance horse nutrition, and regenerative medicine. It was truly a fantastic day and you’ll be hearing more from me about it in the future.

The thing about the UTCVM is that every single vet, farrier, and expert guest speaker that I met yesterday was positively thrilled to be there. When touring the vet school their enthusiasm was contagious. They used words and phrases like, “let me show you my playground” or “let me show you my toys.” These experts have a genuine energy and excitement about the work they do. Wow. Just wow. Not one person seemed unhappy to be there presenting from the early morning hours on and on a Saturday at that. If you did miss this year’s conference, the good news is that there is always next year.

For those of you that were unable to make it, I’ve created a photo collage and a sampling of videos from the demonstrations. Stay tuned for future pieces from this exciting conference.  Continue reading

Overcoming Fear


Ponied lead line. A great way to overcome fear for young riders.

Many years ago, seemingly paralyzed with fear I sat atop a horse I had no business being on. I wanted nothing more at that moment than to get off and be done with it. It was a terrible feeling to be so afraid of doing something that I loved. Losing your confidence in horseback riding can be tough. I know because this experience taught me that. It’s memory lingers in my mind.

There are lots of reasons fear can happen, especially for the adult amateur. Most commonly there’s been an accident that resulted in our being unseated. Sometimes even minor injuries from a fall can result in great fear.

Another reason is time out of the saddle. Maybe increased demands at work or a new baby have prevented you from spending as much time in the saddle as you would like which caused your confidence to waver. Perhaps you are returning to the saddle following a long hiatus such as a youth rider who, following a long absence, is returning to the saddle as an adult and you are uncertain as to your abilities. Continue reading

An Ode to Munchkin

Do you remember your first horse? Good, bad, or indifferent most of us do. The recipient of mistakes galore they help to teach us and mold us into the horsemen or horsewomen that we are today. After all, we all have to start somewhere. Continue reading