Words Of Praise

"I could write volumes praising Barbara’s talents; honesty, loyalty, and integrity. Suffice it to say that I have trusted her with my child, my horses, and in the future I intend to trust her with my grandchildren."

Rita Mulder

Candlewood Arabians

Las Vegas, NV

(now residing in Oregon)

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“Barbara has been a trusted and efficient supplier of equestrian services. She has helped make my horse riding and western dreams come true.”

Al Bernstein

ESPN Sportscaster

Las Vegas, NV

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“…(Barbara) is absolutely reliable.“

Dean Essex, DVM

Las Vegas, NV

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Barbara H. Callihan,
Equestrian Coach, Trainer, and Clinician

A third generation equestrian trainer and coach, and a fourth generation Nevadan, Barbara Callihan has been a leading equestrian professional for more than 50 years. Her dedication to strengthening horsemanship among equestrians of all ages combined with her commitment for encouraging greater community among horse enthusiasts make her one of the most successful, sought-after equestrian experts in Southern Nevada.

The Early Days

Barbara grew up on a working ranch inspired by watching her father train wild mustangs. She started riding before she could walk, and, by age nine, had trained her first buggy horse how to pull her red flyer wagon. Having been exposed to diverse horse breeds and disciplines at a young age, she quickly developed adaptable techniques and a knack for working with difficult horses. With a deep understanding of horses’ instincts and mentality, she learned to apply safe, adaptable techniques to soften horses’ minds. She coupled her approach with communication based on a quiet seat and hands, good timing, and clear and a strong, consistent reward system.

Continuing Eduction

A perpetual student of the equine industry, Barbara has spent decades studying techniques from some of the top trainers and clinicians in the country, including Mark H. Bolender, Monti Forman, Gene LaCroiz, John Lyons, Walt Hageman and Linda Tellington Jones. She has been a Special Olympics Horse Instructor, 4-H leader, certified trail discipline judge, and has successfully competed and coached other riders in a wide variety of disciplines including Western, English, saddle seat, driving, hunter jumper, dressage, endurance, speed events, team sorting, American Competitive Horse Trail Association, Equestrian Trail Sports and Extreme Mountain Trail. Over the years, Barbara and her students have earned top placements, championships, awards and accolades.

A Respected Coach, Trainer, and Judge

In 1971, Barbara opened her first equestrian training and coaching facility in North Las Vegas. Over the next three decades, she taught hundreds of children and adults, and specialized in corrective training and instruction. She also served as judge across diverse associations, including LV Appaloosa Club, Hunter Jumper Association, NSHA Region V, & LV Arabian Horse Association, ACTHA, Equine Trail Sport and International Mountain Trail Challenge Association.

In 1999, Barbara moved to Pahrump, Nevada, where she built and founded Happy Hoof Beats Equestrian Center. She continues to provide customized coaching and training for equestrians and horses of all ages and disciplines. In 2012, she developed Equestrian Edge™, a series of innovative group coaching sessions featuring techniques and exercises to strengthen communication and performance among horse and rider in a fun, safe and group environment. More than 60 riders have benefited from this bold new concept by participating in 30 group sessions that include cavalletti work, cantering, flexibility, core balance and trail work.

An Obsession With Trail Disciplines

In 2014, Barbara was ranked top five in the nation for trail competition and Nevada State Champion after her first year of competing in the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA) circuit. This early success fueled her passion for emerging trail disciplines and led her to discover more. In the following year she began competing in Equine Trail Sports (ETS) events and eventually became a certified ETS judge. In 2016, Barbara’s curiosity led her to Bolender Horse Park in Washington, where she spent a summer training with three-time Mountain Trail National champion, Mark H. Bolender. Her experience with Mark Bolender transformed her. She made the choice to dedicate her life working with Mark and International Mountain Trail Challenge Association, the governing body for the discipline. She now works to promote what is becoming the world’s fastest growing trail discipline community. In June of 2017, Barbara announced plans to open Southern Nevada’s first and only Extreme Mountain Trail Equestrian Trail Park on October 21, 2017.

Barbara remains passionate about coaching and training, and takes great pride in fostering fellowship in the equestrian community, giving people from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds a fun and safe place to celebrate their love of horses.


Judging Certifications:

Equine Trail Sports

International Mountain Trail Challenge Association / Extreme Mountain Trail


Memberships & Associations:

American Quarter Horse Association

Nevada State Horseman’s Association

Back Country Horseman’s Association — Bristlecone


Training Philosophy

Horses are herd animals and express certain characteristics even when domesticated. They respond to both governance and expressions of care. They respect firm and sensitive leadership. They desire a bond of mutual respect and companionship. They require a commitment to their health and well-being. And, finally, they demand prudent and safe methods.

In the course of working with various levels of challenging horses, I have developed my own wise and safe ways to soften a horse’s mind and to replace unwanted behavior. I follow my instincts to outthink and to outmaneuver a horse, understanding that the key to successful training lies in employing appropriate timing paired with strong governance. By anticipating a horse’s move—knowing what’s going to happen before it does happen — while respecting their natural defenses, strength and speed—I am able to effectively deliver well-timed cues, directives, encouragement and rewards. I think it, I feel it, and then I ask it. This approach instills confidence, builds rapport and cultivates respect between horse and rider.

Flexibility is the key to addressing individual training challenges. There are countless effective horse training strategies and techniques. Depending on the specific horse, its temperament and training goals, some strategies are simply more effective and safer than others.

Riding a well-trained horse allows you the joy of experiencing the blissful relationship between yourself and a four-legged companion. Developing caring, firm, sensitive, and truthful leadership allows the bond of friendship and mutual respect to form safely. Then can come the wild exhilarating freedom on the back of a horse that is experienced in every cell of your body – or that quiet safe moment when their spirit meets yours.

Joy, freedom and safety are all embraced in the Horse Journey. Along the way we marvel—at ourselves, at each other, at our horses.