Advanced Backcountry Horseman

The Horsemanship Training Program is designed for in depth instruction and exercises about back country guiding and outfitting. This program provides a level of expertise few guides get to experience. The COAGS Basic Program is a prerequisite for the Horsemanship Training Program which consists of 120 instruction hour focusing on detailed horsemanship skills. Below are the topics of instruction covered in the course.

Horsemanship Curriculum

Guide Responsibilities – 4 hours
Natural Resources
Code of Ethics
Responsibilities to:
US Forest Service and BLM use regulations
Private Land and Waters
Hunting/Fishing Laws and Regulations


Horsemanship and Packing – 30 hours
 Advanced Riding Lessons and Trail Rides
 Horse/Mule Psychology and Training
 Packing with Horses and Mules
 Decker Pack Saddles
 Sawbuck Saddles
 Leading a Pack String
 Horse/Mule First Aid
 Nutrition and Care
 Basic Horse Showing and Hoof Maintenance
 Giving Shots, Medicines, and Worming


Working Through Obstacles – 12 hours
 Trees and Downed Obstacles
 Crossing Water and Streams
 Crossing Boggy Areas
 Loading, Unloading, and Hauling
 Evaluating your Horse’s Condition (Heart Rate and Respiration)
 Pacing Yourself and Your Horse
 Leaving the Herd
 Taking Care of your Horse on an Overnight Trip
 Opening and Closing Gates and Gaps


Setting Up a Pack Trip – 30 hours
 Packing Equipment and Supplies
 Campsite Selection and Layout
 Erecting Tents
 Camp Safety and Hygiene
 Keeping Horses in the Wilderness
 Pack Trip


Round Pen Reasoning – 12 hours
 Simple Cues and Communication
 “The Box” Exercise
 Lateral Movement (Side Passing)
 Backing your Horse Properly
 Working with Lunge Line
 Identifying and Working with Problem Horses
 Preparing for Competitive Trail Ride (NATRC rules)


Professional Guide Equipment – 2 hours


Night Riding – 12 hours
 Early Morning Night Ride
 Evaluating Morning Ride
 Day Light Practice on Obstacles
 Evening Night Ride


Copmetitive Trail Ride Contest – 12 hours – 20 miles


Back Country Horseman Course Overview and Discussion – 4 hours


Final Exam (special awards, graduation, and class pictures) – 2 hours