What if I Told You: You Are Ready To Learn and Practice Intermediate Mountain Trail Techniques?

Photo Above: Barbara H. Callihan and Chunky Monkey #BridlelessAndBareback — An Advanced Extreme Mountain Trail Technique.

Over the past several weeks I’ve had conversations with most of the graduates of the Introduction to Mountain Trail Clinics since October, and a common concern among those who have completed is that many of you feel you are not ‘ready’ for the Intermediate Mountain Trail Clinic, or that it might be unsafe for you and/or your horse.

Terms like ‘Intermediate’ can mean different things to different people, presenting a wide variety of concerns and questions such as:

  • What if I am not an Intermediate rider?
  • I can’t do the more challenging obstacles yet with my horse, what would I get out of this clinic?
  • My horse is not finished enough for an Intermediate clinic
  • My horse and I are not ready to master the more challenging obstacles
  • I still don’t understand or haven’t mastered all the basic horsemanship skills with my horse
  • Other riders and horses will perform better than me; I will be judged as ‘not good enough’
  • I’m concerned about the safety for me and my horse
  • I have difficulty remembering the instructions
  • I tire easily
  • I only ride on the weekends

So what is the answer to the question you’re asking yourself:
Am I ready for the Intermediate Mountain Trail Clinic?

The answer is Absolutely Yes!

If you’ve completed the Introduction to Mountain Trail Clinic, then I would like to suggest you are ready for the Intermediate Clinic, and here’s why:

  • The Intermediate Clinic picks up right where the Introduction Clinic left off, and riders/handlers will have the opportunity to work on cleaning up and perfecting their basic horsemanship skills
  • Registering for the Intermediate clinic means you want to continue build a bold, confident, and safe partnership with your horse
  • Registering for the intermediate Clinic means you are ready for your strengths to be strengthened and you are choosing to develop yourself into a more sensitive, aware, educated, and proactive equestrian
  • Registering for the Intermediate clinic means you are ready, willing, and eager to work with an equestrian coach to acquire and practice new intermediate skills — not that you already have mastered them
  • Registering for the Intermediate clinic means you have the desire to look at the possibility of approaching obstacles at the trot, extended trot, and for some riders even experimenting with the canterlope (canter/lope) — not that you are expected to master them
  • Registering for the Intermediate clinic means you have the curiosity to learn how to cleanly approach, complete, and exit obstacles
  • Registering for the Intermediate means that you are ready to support and be supported by like mind horsemen/women
  • Registering for the Intermediate Clinic means you are ready to face your challenges and experience your successes


Finally, I would also suggest that something magical happens when you take a leap of faith and commit yourself to step outside your comfort zone to trust those with the knowledge and experience to mentor you so that you can experience breakthroughs.

Mark H. Bolender is one of the most talented, insightful, supportive, creative, aware, truthful equestrian coaches that I have ever had the joy of working with. He is completely dedicated to your success and your safety. He draws from life experiences with a sense of joy and kindness that puts riders at ease even during the most challenging moments. His wife Lee, his partner during the clinics, quietly works with the individual riders to help them integrate the nuances of the techniques and skills while Mark is giving personal attention to individual riders. She is the eyes behind his back, always aware if someone needs more direction from Mark, and focussed on keeping all riders engaged and safe. Mark and Lee believe in your possibilities and will help you experience the trail ride of your dreams!

Almost two years ago, at a time when I was not being kind to myself in thoughts, when I was heavy in negative judgement, and when I could not appreciate my past successes nor could I see a future for myself that included horses, a quiet and persistent voice led me to Bolender Horse Park. It had been over 35 years since I had reached out to another equestrian coach, and I knew I was ready to become the student. Lordy I was scared. Yet, I knew in my belly that this man would not only reveal to me new awareness, knowledge, and skills but he would also inspire me to become my new best self. Two years later, he continues to be a powerful force in my equestrian transformation and inspires me to pay it forward through HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada.

If you trust Mark, I know he can make a difference in your equestrian journey. I encourage you to seriously consider registering for the Intermediate Mountain Trail coaching clinic on March 24 and 25 today. Get out of your comfort zone and experience great rewards.

Sign up on EventBrite Today, or contact me today to discuss your next steps.

Happy Trails — Barbara H. Callihan, Equestrian Coach and Trainer


2018 HHB Winter and Spring Schedule

Photo Above: Rider — Barbara H. Callihan; Horse — Chunkey Monkey. Photo Credit: Maja Reilley.

We’ve been working diligently the past several weeks putting finishing touches on a robust Winter and Spring schedule of Mountain Trail activities at HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada, including launching our online HHB Calendar — check it out.

Happy Hoof Beats Online Calendar

Mark and Lee Bolender return in February for an IMTCA Mountain Trail Judge’s Clinic that can provide riders/handlers keen insight to how to prepare for Challenges! We’ve also scheduled our first Schooling Challenge in April to give you an opportunity to get a sense of how the competitive side of Mountain Trail works and put your new skills to the test. In October we’ll celebrate our one year anniversary with an official IMTCA Challenge where riders/handlers from across the nation will join us to compete for wonderful prizes. We encourage you to use the next six month to as much experience on the Trail Park as possible by scheduling lessons and park access.

Clinic Dates:

December 9 and 10, 2017
Introduction to Mountain Trail w/Barbara H. Callihan
RSVP on Facebook | Registration Open

January 13 and 14, 2018
Introduction to Mountain Trail w/Barbara H. Callihan
RSVP on Facebook | Registration Open

February 3 and 4, 2018
IMTCA Judge’s Clinic w/Mark H. Bolender
RSVP on Facebook | Registration Open

March 10 and 11, 2018
Introduction to Mountain Trail w/Barbara H. Callihan
RSVP on Facebook | Registration Open

April 14 and 15, 2018
Introduction to Mountain Trail w/Barbara H. Callihan
RSVP on Facebook | Registration Open

May 12 and 13, 2018
Introduction to Mountain Trail w/Barbara H. Callihan
RSVP on Facebook | Registration Open

Schooling Challenge Dates:

April 28 and 29, 2018
HHB Mountain Trail Schooling Challenge
RSVP on Facebook

IMTCA Challenge Dates:

October 20 and 21, 2018
IMTCA Extreme Mountain Trail Challenge
RSVP on Facebook

Lessons and Park Access — Winter Schedule:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday — 9am to Dusk
Mondays and Thursdays — No Lessons or Park Access
Winter Vacation: No Lessons or Park Access — December 19th to January 9th

Request A Lesson   |   Request Park Access   |   Other Inquiries


Happy Hoof Beats Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada Opens October 21st

Contact: P. Tyrone Smith
Media Relations
(415) 786-9611 (m)

Happy Hoof Beats Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada Opens October 21st
Extreme Mountain Trail Course Promotes Horsemanship in Safe, Fun Environment


(PAHRUMP, NEVADA) October 21, 2017 – Happy Hoof Beats (HHB) Equestrian Center announces the grand opening of the Happy Hoof Beats (HHB) Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada, the Southwest’s first state-of-the-art Extreme Mountain Trail Course. Designed by three-time National Mountain Trail Champion, Mark H. Bolender, the premier facility promotes greater horsemanship to horse lovers of all skill levels and equestrian disciplines.

The public is invited to the grand opening reception and walk through on Saturday, October 21st at 4:00 pm. Guests are asked to RSVP via EventBrite.

“The HHB Equestrian Trail Park was born out of my passion to share Mountain Trail with diverse groups of equestrian enthusiasts while creating a stronger community around this emerging discipline,” said Barbara Callihan, founder of HHB Equestrian Center. “Mountain Trail has the power to transform relationships between horse and rider by strengthening horsemanship, communication and self-confidence – essential components of a good partnership. Mountain Trail gave me a new sense of purpose and helped take my horsemanship skills to an entirely new level, and I wanted to share that opportunity with others.”

HHB Equestrian Trail Park is Southern Nevada’s first and only Extreme Mountain Trail course and event center sanctioned by the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association. The course features 26 natural obstacles, including a rock path, stairs and a swinging bridge that mimic trails from around the world. Bolender designed the course so that riders and handlers can gain the skills and strategies necessary to overcome challenges in a safe, fun learning environment.

“HHB Equestrian Trail Park will build bold, confident partnerships under saddle and in hand one obstacle at a time,” said Mark H. Bolender, three-time National Mountain Trail Champion and founder and president of the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association. “The course is designed to develop horsemanship by the way it challenges riders and handlers to be in proper balance when navigating the course and helps pairs develop a stronger trust for one another. I have tremendous respect for Barbara and commend her for opening a facility that welcomes equestrians of all skills and backgrounds to participate in this exciting, new sport.”

A two-day introduction to Extreme Mountain Trail coaching clinic scheduled for October 21 and 22 has already sold out for participants with horses under saddle or in-hand. Auditing spots remain available. Anyone interested in auditing or signing up on the waitlist for the next coaching clinic in November may do so by visiting the registration page on EventBrite.

Mountain Trail is one of the fastest growing trail disciplines in the world. Started in Oregon in 2001, the sport has expanded to Canada and Europe, and is making a bid to become an Olympic sport. Mountain Trail challenges horse and rider to navigate trail obstacles with technical accuracy, subtlety and finesse at varying gaits and speeds. Mountain Trail stands apart from other equestrian disciplines because it can be enjoyed by riders of any age and skill level, and by every breed of horse, mule or donkey under saddle or in-hand.

Located an hour west of Las Vegas towards Death Valley National Park, the Equestrian Trail Park will be open to the public via a reservation system. People can use the facility for individual and group coaching, horse training and conditioning, social gatherings and events. In order to maintain the safety of every participant, eligible riders must complete an 'Introduction to Mountain Trail' group coaching session or take individual lessons with an approved trainer, including Mark H. Bolender or Barbara H. Callihan. The facility offers group and individual coaching sessions and packages, and will host the first Mountain Trail Challenge in the spring of 2018.

About HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada
Happy Hoof Beats Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada is the Southwest’s first state-of-the-art Extreme Mountain Trail Course. Designed and constructed by three-time national champion Mark H. Bolender, the premier facility is Nevada’s first and only Extreme Mountain Trail Course and event center sanctioned by the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association. The park features 26 natural mountain obstacles that help horses, riders and handlers to develop the skills, confidence and strategies needed to navigate challenges they’d find on various trails around the world. Most importantly, the venue welcomes equestrians and horse enthusiasts from all skill levels and disciplines to celebrate Mountain Trail in a safe, fun, educational, recreational and competitive environment. For more information, please visit HHB Equestrian Trail Park.

About Happy Hoof Beats Equestrian Center
Barbara H. Callihan founded HHB Equestrian Center in 2005. The Equestrian Center offers personalized individual and group coaching programs that enables riders of all ages and skill level to achieve their goals and enjoy their equestrian journey. Located in Pahrump, an hour west of Las Vegas towards Death Valley National Park, this facility borders Bureau of Land Management land with open riding available all the way to California. The Equestrian Center also features the Southwest’s first state-of-the-art Extreme Mountain Trail Course that gives riders the skills to navigate local trails safely and confidently and participate in the emerging trail discipline. Above all, the Equestrian Center welcomes people from all walks of life to be a part of equestrian fellowship and have the opportunity to develop horsemanship skills that lead to personal transformation.

About Barbara H. Callihan
Barbara is a third generation equestrian trainer and coach who has earned an impeccable reputation as one of the most respected horsewomen in Southern Nevada. An equestrian professional for 60 years, she operates Happy Hoof Beats (HHB) Equestrian Center, where she develops personalized programs for equestrians of all ages and skill levels, and trains horses using safe, learned techniques and communication based on a quiet seat and hands, good timing and a strong consistent reward system. She also offers group coaching sessions through her innovative coaching instrument, Equestrian Coaching Edge™. In 2017, she founded HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada, the region’s premier Extreme Mountain Trail Equestrian Trail Park. Barbara remains passionate about the equestrian community, and takes great pride in fostering fellowship among equestrians who celebrate their love of horses.



IMTCA Mountain Trail Obstacles Arrive

On September 21 at about 10:15 pm I turned the corner to my street and saw a beautiful sight! A fully lit 42 foot 16-wheeler loaded with thirty thousand pounds of obstacles and materials destined to create HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada.

At 5:30 the following very crisp morning Cody, from Murphy's Construction, meticulously unloaded the magnificent, long-awaited wooden obstacles.

I am deeply grateful to call Larry Eades, of Oregon City, my friend. Larry is a friend and associate of Mark H. Bolender and an avid competitor in IMTCA’s Extreme Mountain Trail. Larry has been one of my primary supporters, instrumental in helping to make my dream a reality from the beginning. He has encouraged me and participated every step of the way from talking about the various possibilities, to securing the materials, to building the obstacles at Bolender Horse Park, to organizing transportation to Pahrump, to loading them on the transporter to be shipped to Pahrump. And in less than a week he will arrive in Pahrump to help install these amazing obstacles.

It took hours of his and Mark’s time turning a stack of wood, screws, nuts, bolts, and other materials into sturdy and challenging obstacles, like the swinging bridge, balance beam, rolling bridge, cake box, Texas Two-Step, water pond and more...

I am so very excited and thrilled. My dream is becoming very real!!!

Join us for the Grand Opening Reception and Walk Through of HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada on Saturday, October 21st at 4:00pm and discover the unbridled joy of Extreme Mountain Trail.

RSVP for free now on EventBrite.


My obsession with IMTCA and Extreme Mountain Trail — I am a true believer 

by Barbara H. Callihan

Approximately 12 years ago, I discovered Mountrail Trail via the Internet when I happened upon the website for Oregon Horse Center, owned by Major Defoe, who had created the discipline in 2000. I remember watching some videos, including a few made via go-pro® attached to riders’ helmets. I was amazed at all the indoor natural mountain obstacles that had a truly rustic and rugged mountain theme. I was impressed with the quality, complexity, and difficulty of the well-designed courses. I was in awe of the incredible partnerships between horses and riders that had been developed to navigate the trail courses. And, I was excited that the horse community was beginning to understand and promote the value of trail obstacles by developing an entirely new competitive discipline. Unfortunately, I took no action at that time, and over the next few years my vague dream began to slip away. At that time, “life’s duties” had become all-encompassing, and the flames of my personal horse fantasies had been put on the back burner, all but doused with resignation. I had lost the connection to the value of my personal dreams to the point that I was willing to abandon them.    

I don’t remember any one moment in my life that marks the time when I began to sink into my deep hole of depression. My life had become lackluster. The wonderful joy I had always felt being around horses was nearly gone. My “want to” had abandoned me. Then one gloomy afternoon, Brenda Fleming, a friend and client, casually mentioned the Oregon Horse Center and its challenging indoor trail competition, as well as three-time national champion Mark Bolender. I felt a fleeting spark of interest to learn more, but in the end I did not act on it, at least not yet. For the next few weeks, when I had quiet time with myself, my thoughts would take me back to the Oregon Horse Center, until I was moved to take action — so I visited their website to learn more. A few weeks later, I found myself on Mark Bolender’s website. As I read more, watched the videos, and became more familiar with his philosophy, that fleeting spark suddenly ignited.

With a small flame now burning inside me, I began to feel the heat of curiosity and excitement for new adventures. I started to feel a renewed connection to my own personal equestrian dreams. With more years behind me than in front of me, I became deeply aware that every day I have on this fragile planet is a gift, and that time stands still for no one. I began to appreciate that there were still items to check off my own personal bucket list. While I still had the physical and mental strength, I wanted to be able to seek out the passionate temptations of my dreams. I wanted to experience the adventures of the unknown, challenge myself to learn new things, test myself to achieve more than I thought imaginable, and master things that I have yet to discover. It  was time for the coach to become the student and to push myself through unchallenged limits.

For the next eight months I immersed myself into this new found world of Extreme Mountain Trail. I felt pulled and driven with a single mindedness that I had not felt for decades — something had finally caught my attention and I was obsessed with gathering more information. After ordering the book Bolender Guide to Mastering Mountain and Extreme Trail Riding, and the accompanying Mark Bolender DVD, as well as finding all the videos I could on YouTube, I read, watched, and dissected every word and every movement. In the summer of 2016, I decided that Chunky and I would study under International Mountrail Trail Challenge Association (IMTCA) founder Mark Bolender. I spent two months at Bolender Horse Park in Washington, where I immersed myself in Mark’s philosophy, completed my IMTCA judge’s certification, and competed in my first IMTCA Challenge. By the time I returned to Pahrump, I had developed a deep appreciation for Mark’s philosophy, and I began to integrate his complementary ideology into my own with exceptional results. I had become a believer.

In November of 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer. Undeterred, I made the choice to have major surgery immediately so that I might have the chance to recover in time to compete in the IMTCA Extreme Mountain Trail Challenge at the Washington Horse Expo in March 2017. My surgery took place on December 13th, on February 9th I was back on Chunky. By February 14th I hit the road, in between extreme winter storms dropping rain and snow on the roads, on my way back to Bolender Horse Park. For the next two weeks I continued my studies under Mark Bolender in preparation for the Challenge. In March, Team HHB joined me at the unseasonably cold and wet Washington Horse Expo for the Challenge, where 48 horses competed over all, and I competed against 12 other riders in Level 3—coming away with Reserve Champion. What was truly inspiring and comforting about this journey was that along the way, I had the sincere privilege of meeting dozens of other incredible IMTCA Extreme Mountain Trail riders, competitors, and enthusiasts. These true believers were also experiencing the transformational effects of Extreme Mountain Trail and were working together to build a passionate, supportive, and fun community.

What I discovered out of this experience was an incredible trail discipline that had become the antidote to my burnt-out equestrian experience and a release from my depression. I began to experience a bold and open heart, a renewed confidence and joy, as well as an enhanced partnership with my horse, Chunky Monkey. Mark Bolender’s coaching revealed to me the next level of finishing for Chunky and myself, which focused on letting her think, feel, and try for herself. IMTCA, the governing body of Extreme Mountain Trail, is committed to creating a discipline that will one day be a part of the Olympics, with its special attention to creating and curating an objective, fair, and equitable judging system that would support competitors in knowing precisely how they could improve their scores. The Extreme Mountain Trail community is full of vibrant, fun, enthusiastic, talented, supportive, and devoted riders, competitors, judges, and other stakeholders. As a trail discipline, Extreme Mountain Trail is accessible and challenging for all breeds, all riding disciplines, and includes competitive classes for horses under saddle or in-hand at four distinct competitive levels. Whether you’re a novice on an Arabian riding english, a trainer on a Quarter Horse riding western, or an enthusiast with a miniature horse or pony in-hand, Extreme Mountain Trail offers a unique opportunity for everyone to come together, from all economic levels to experience the unbridled joy of trail. Throughout the entire experience, I witnessed remarkable transformation and change in riders and horses at all experience levels. It was clear to me that the fire that Extreme Mountain Trail had ignited inside me had begun to burn hot and bright.

So, I had come to a crossroads, and the process of choosing what was next for me became deeply personal. I became aware that I had awakened a deep desire to experience physical and spiritual healing and rejuvenation. Transformation was now possible. At my core, I am a horsewomen and any spiritual reckoning  would undoubtedly include experiencing my own personal horse journey at an elevated and polished and enlivened level. Many of you have been witness to the success I have already experienced riding Chunky Monkey over several trail disciplines. That success was possible because of the close bond we had established. Because of this bond, I knew that Chunky had the try and attitude that would afford me the possibility to continue to partner with her with confidence and joy on my personal equestrian journey.

The story about my love affair with Extreme Mountain Trail is not unique. During the past 11 months, I’ve encountered countless equestrians who have been searching for a discipline to cross over to, and now find themselves drawn to the simple, irrepressible joys of Extreme Mountain Trail.  We are drawn to the opportunity to continue to learn, to strengthen our horsemanship, and to build a bold and confident partnerships with our horses. We are drawn to the fun, enjoyable, supportive, encouraging, and empowering environment. We are drawn to the clear and concise judging rules that give us clear feedback on how we can improve. And, we are drawn to the diverse equestrian community represented by equestrians from all disciplines, all breeds, and all socioeconomic backgrounds — who eagerly gather and unite to celebrate the awe of a great trail horse.

The question that now taunted me was how and where would I continue to feed the fire that had ignited in my belly? This personal inquiry made it possible for me to distinguish and contemplate the following scenarios:

  • Move to the Northwest; preferably near the Bolender Horse Park in Washington State.
  • Travel and ride all the IMTCA Courses across the US, meeting the other passionate Extreme Mountain Trail riders, competitors, and enthusiasts while challenging myself and Chunky at each unique park.    
  • Travel and ride IMTCA European Courses, giving me the extraordinary and fun opportunity to experience this great discipline in other countries, while meeting other Extreme Mountain Trail riders, competitors, and enthusiasts.


The more I examined these real possibilities, I began to realize how very one-sided I was being, and another possibility gradually made itself known. Finally, a small voice whispered, “You can bring Extreme Mountain Trail to Southern Nevada!”

By bringing International Mountain Trail to Southern Nevada, I could share on a large scale my new-found passion for an emerging trail discipline that had the potential to transform riders, horses, and the community at large.

With these epiphanies, accompanied by a happy heart and a deep burning fire in my belly, the contemplation of my horse journey literally returned me to Pahrump, Nevada. I had the vision that I would build the first IMTCA-sanctioned trail park and event center in the Southwest, called Happy Hoof Beats Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada.

My vision for HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada is unique and simple. I am creating a state-of-the-art park and event center where equestrians six years old and up, on any horse or in hand, from any discipline, and representing any background can congregate to celebrate Extreme Mountain Trail in a safe, fun, educational, recreational, and competitive environment. Guests will have the opportunity to use the park as an instrument to develop good horsemanship skills and ultimately build bold and confident partnerships with their horses. Guests will be invited to engage with like-minded equestrians to support, encourage, and inspire each other to succeed while developing endearing friendships.

My first horse show was 61 years ago, when I was 11 years old. Since then, my journey has covered a lot of ups and downs over so many trails. Today, through the unbridled joy of Extreme Mountain Trail, I have been reunited with that child-like enthusiasm I first experienced. If I should be so blessed, I will live a life long enough to ride in the first Extreme Mountain Trail at the Olympics. It is possible.

I invite you to join me for the grand opening of Happy Hoof Beats Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada on Saturday, October 21, 2017. If you are a rider who is interested in experiencing the unbridled joy of Mountain Trail for yourself, sign up for a two-day Intro to Mountain Trail coaching session — the first one will be led my IMTCA founder, Mark Bolender on Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22nd.

To learn more about HHB Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada, visit our website first, and then email us with questions at

See you on the Trail!

Equestrian Trail Park of Southern Nevada | Bolender Horse Park | IMTCA
Sign Up for HHB Email

Visit the links above, and if you still have questions, email us.