The Manor Blog

Students, pros come together at farrier clinic.

December 12, 2018

Esco Buff knows his way around a forge and anvil. He quickly snatches a horseshoe from the flames, places it on the rounded horn and with a few quick raps of the hammer, forms the shoe into the perfect arc and thickness. Steam rises with a hiss as he stabs the still-hot shoe into water to cool.

He closely eyes the shoe to make sure the dimensions are just right. You have to be quick, he explains. The forge heats the shoe at 2,500 degrees but the shoe’s temperature will quickly drop to 1500 — it will cool 15 degrees a second — so there’s limited time to work on a shoe.

Buff, a professional farrier and farrier instructor, travels the country and recently shared his expertise during a clinic at Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre. He told a mix of students and professional farriers that it’s important to know the whole animal, not just its feet. “Sit down with your client and find out everything there is to know about the horse,” he advised.

“The students here are very receptive to learning,” Buff said of why he returns time and time again. “Meredith Manor is the only school in the nation that teaches the whole horse approach. The students who leave here, in my book, have a much better education about the whole horse.”

Buff’s demonstrations and instructions were part of a clinic that offers the professionals in the group 25 hours of continuing education, said clinic organizer John Crothers, head of the MM Farrier department. “His is a whole horse approach and very hands on,” Crothers said. “Forging is part of what we teach, every shoe must be fit to the foot.” Not all farriers turn to shoes initially. But Buff said shoes often are necessary for a horse to achieve proper balance.

“Our job is to keep a horse as balanced as possible,” he said. “You have to consider all of the things that affect balance — it’s dynamic. Our (treatment) is based on everything that is happening with the horse.” Lea Joy, 25, attended the clinic. She is a 2015 graduate of Meredith Manor and recently moved to New York where she works part-time as a farrier. She has worked as a professional farrier in North Carolina as well and hopes to operate her own farrier business full time.

“It’s very difficult to start out, especially finding clients,” she said. Women are still a minority in the field, she said though that’s changing a bit. She and Buff agree physical strength isn’t key to the profession, it’s about technique and knowledge. “Some horses prefer women,” Buff said. “They may have had an issue in the past with a male trainer and you have to consider that.”

Women pursuing a farrier career must be determined, Joy said. “You have to really prove yourself for them to take you seriously,” she said. “You need a strong personality.”


Where are they now? Steve Gilbert.

December 5, 2018

At least once a year, Steve Gilbert returns to Meredith Manor to share his expertise in western riding, reigning and horse training. Sit with him a spell and it doesn’t take long for him to share something else — his love for Meredith Manor.

“This is the only school like this in the world,” Gilbert said during his recent visit to the college. “Other colleges’ horses are donated, they are already trained, (students) just prepare them to show. At Meredith Manor we teach from the beginning, from the horse as a baby, up to the highest level of ability. That’s why this school is unique.”

Gilbert, 62, attended The Manor in 1983 and 1984. He grew up not far from Meredith Manor on a farm in the Mineral Wells area. Growing up he was one of seven kids and his family’s farm always had horses. But he didn’t immediately turn that real-life experience into his career. He happened to drive by MM late one night while back in the area over the Christmas holiday. Lights in the barns caught his attention and he came back the next day to check things out. The rest, as they say, is history.

Gilbert is now the owner of Fountainhead Farm in Colorado where he lives with his wife, Heather. She has a connection to Meredith Manor all her own - her sister is Faith Meredith, the director of Meredith Manor and one of its instructors. After years of working other jobs as a primary source of income, Gilbert now relies on horses as his primary source of income - he raises quarter horses and begins to train them, eventually selling them to individuals who want to show them in competition. He has also competed himself for many years.

Gilbert’s career has taken him all over - New York, then New Jersey and Delaware, and then to Colorado where he has worked for more than 20 years. Past jobs have included reigning trainer and MM teacher to now owning his own facility. But his journey keeps him returning to Meredith Manor. “If you come to Meredith Manor it’s because this is what you want to do with the rest of your life,” he said. “You want horses every day of your life. “Ever since I stepped foot on this place, I just love life now,” he said. “Very few people get to do that. They go through life doing the wrong thing. This is either in your blood or it isn’t. If it is, you’ll be fine.”

Gilbert was interviewed by Jennifer Houtman. If you know of a subject for a future “Where are they now,” send your suggestion to


Competitions offer riders fun, opportunity

November 28, 2018

For 20-year-old Amelia Lloyd of Atlanta, Ga., competing is a learning opportunity but it’s also about having fun. For 15-year-old Ava Nissen of Columbus, Oh., competing is a chance to show her skills on a variety of horses. Both young women were among the dozens of competitors to participate in two different dressage competitions held at Meredith Manor recently.

For Amelia, this was her first competition of the semester. She is a sophomore equine science and management major at the University of Kentucky and competed with her team at The Manor the weekend of Nov. 3-4. Competitions offer riders fun, opportunity “I don’t ride dressage much right now but I have a lot of previous experience,” she said, adding that coming to a competition where contestants draw horses offers challenges and opportunities. “You have to have the right mindset,” she said. “You have to have an open mind, it’s a learning opportunity, but it’s always been about having fun. For me, it’s just having fun.”

The difficulty comes in riding a horse you haven’t ridden before, Amelia explained. Contestants have just 10 minutes to warm up with the horse before they compete. “It’s nerve wracking,” she said. “It just goes with it. It’s not your horse, but that only makes you a stronger rider.” The weekend IEA show is the first time Ava and her mom, Betsy Carleton, attended a show at The Manor but they compete in shows most weekends during the summer and fall. Ava is a member of the Duzan Equestrian team. She started riding at the age of 5 and she’s been competing in dressage since the 6th grade. She’s now a 10th grader. “A smaller arena like this (is challenging),” Ava said. “It’s harder to get into your corners - tight turns.” Ava also competes in hunt seat competitions. She said cross country shows are her favorite because they take place in an open field. “It’s very free,” she said.

Meredith Manor’s Kristen Bosgraf organized the IEA show open to riders in grades 6 through 12. The Manor co-Hosted the show with the Marcia Equestrian Team. Others competing in the event were West Licking District, Duzan Equestrian Team and Mystic Meadows Farm. “This is our target market, 6th - 12th grade riders,” Bosgraf said. “Many of these competitors hope to go on to pursue equine related paths in their professional lives. Giving them some exposure to the Meredith Manor program through supporting something they already love - IEA - is a great link for us as a college. “We also offer an IDA team which is a great follow up to their IEA dressage experience,” she said.

The Meredith Manor IDA team was one of several college teams competing in their own competition at The Manor that weekend. MM hosted Region E of the Intercollegiate Dressage Association. Members include: Bethany College, College of Wooster, Meredith Manor, Miami University, Oberlin College, Otterbein University and the University of Kentucky. “The show ran very well,” said Nancy Sterrett, a MM instructor who organized the event. “Meredith Manor's jumping and western students helped with everything from running, changing the square size to handling horses, tacking horses and cooling horses out. We had six teams participate and held DSE in all divisions both days.” Sterrett said Meredith Manor's team placed 3rd both days with riders that were participating in the IDA for the first time, with some of them riding their very first test in a competition. Meredith Manor had strong placings in DSE with wins at lower training and Intro, she said.

The horse shows also offers MM students a chance to promote a good cause. Bailey Jayko is a three -year student from the Chicago area. She was holding a bake sale to raise money for services like a horse dentist, chiropractor or acupuncture for those horses who don’t have owners and need the staff and students to look out for them. “Some horses are abandoned because a camp closes down, for example, and there is no one to pay for them,” Bailey said, adding that this was her fifth bake sale. She’s raised about $1,000 overall. “These are horses who have had hundreds of kids bouncing around on their backs … they (deserve) to be a little spoiled.”

Overall, Bosgraf said the horse shows were a great success for all involved. “We had a lovely group of horses hauled in and beautiful weather for horse show day,” she said. “ Special thank you to The Net for preparing stuffed pepper soup for our concessions. The next show is Saturday, December 8 hosted by Marciak Equestrian Team at Meredith Manor.”


Q&A at The Manor with Max Sterrett

November 21, 2018

About Max Sterrett
Age: 53
Hometown: Gallipolis, OH
Certifications: Equine Massage Therapist, Saddle Fitter, also trained in Western and English saddle making; instructor at Meredith Manor the last five years.
Family: Wife Nancy; two daughters, Madalyn and Sadie.

Max Sterrett has always worked with his hands. First, he worked for two decades as an airplane mechanic, and more recently at Meredith Manor where he teaches courses in both equine massage and leather working. Sterrett’s love of horses began while he was growing up on a family farm in nearby Meigs County, Ohio.

QUESTION: How did your career with horses start?
ANSWER: I worked for years as a mechanic with USAir but I always loved horses and grew up on a farm in Meigs County where we bred Appaloosas. My father always told me I could do anything I wanted.

QUESTION: How did you get into equine massage?
ANSWER: It started with saddle fitting. Nancy competes and we purchased her a saddle but we had saddle fit issues. It was about getting educated. An ill-fitting saddle causes pain and discomfort for the horse.

QUESTION: What are the key components of equine massage?
ANSWER: The goal of massage is to increase range of motion, prevent injury and speed recovery. We look at different techniques, I studied the techniques of Mike Scott and Jean- Pierre Hourdebaigt, but there’s no right or wrong. I tell students you don’t have to do it the way I do it, we are looking for results.

QUESTION: Can anyone do massage? What skills are required?
ANSWER: You must learn the anatomy of a horse, there are 49 muscles that affect movement, for example, and the course is 12 weeks, so it’s intense. It is demanding work, physically demanding, you have to have core strength and know proper positioning.

QUESTION: Is other equipment used or is it strictly one’s hands?
ANSWER: There’s a Theraplate, the horse stands on it and it’s divided into four quadrants. Muscles act in pairs and the Theraplate works in a circular motion. The muscles react to balance the horse, and that pumps blood through the body. It’s a great supplemental tool. Short-term benefits are very good. We have also used essential oils and aroma therapy, and infrared heat can also be used to stimulate blood flow.

QUESTION: Is there anything a student should know before getting started?
ANSWER: Check the regulations in the state where they want to work. We aren’t vets and regulations vary state to state.

Interview conducted by Jennifer Folwell. Submit your ideas for future Q&As at The Manor to Jennifer at


Ohio students eager to learn about Meredith Manor

November 14, 2018

With their horses looking on, equine science students at Greene County (OH) Career Center attend-ed a college fair recently held in the school’s Agriculture Research Center on their behalf.

The unique setting seemed fitting for Kristen Bosgraf, Director of Admissions for Meredith Manor, who felt perfectly at home in the informal venue which was a barn equipped with stalls, classrooms and an arena. Bosgraf provided high school juniors and seniors with information about potential careers, degrees, campus activities, competitions and financing.

Several students expressed interest in learning more and visiting Meredith Manor’s campus in the future.

In addition to Meredith Manor, representatives from Hocking College (OH), Wilmington College (OH), Asbury University (KY), Lake Erie College (OH) and Ohio University Southern also attended the fair.

Meredith Manor’s programs stood out among the others. That’s because Meredith Manor’s pro-grams aren’t the traditional classroom/lecture hall format. Students were attracted to programs and majors that provide hands on experience, an opportunity to ride daily and develop meaningful rela-tionships with instructors and horses.

“The students seemed most interested in the fact that we are all horses, all the time and trade based so that means no traditional general education-type classes,” Bosgraf said.

The Manor’s farrier program was a popular topic of conversation. Of the college’s in attendance, only Meredith Manor offered the program. The ability to continue their education through the artic-ulation agreement with WVU-P was another selling point for several students.

Jess Rice, equine science instructor and organizer of the fair, said she wanted to include Meredith Manor in the college fair because she knew of it’s program through a former MM instructor. Jess said she wanted students to learn more because she knew Meredith Manor could be good fit for some.

With the inaugural effort a success, Rice hopes to host another college fair next year. Bosgraf said she would like to go back, expressing a desire to attend smaller college fairs specific to those seek-ing careers with horses.

“The venue was a perfect setting for our type of school - most of the kids we spoke with had a good idea that they wanted horses to be part of their careers in some aspect and Meredith Manor is the answer to how you make that happen,” she said. “Having a small group of equine specific col-leges was a good fit for the interest of the group and a great fit for me from a marketing aspect as it takes a strong passion for horses to be successful in our program.”


Sharing others’ stories is my passion.

November 8, 2018

I’ve built a career on it, working for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor here in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Now I’m looking forward to sharing the story of Meredith Manor through a variety of platforms including a new blog we’re calling The Manor.

This Valley is a special mix of people, places and experiences and Meredith Manor’s story is a unique thread in this beautiful tapestry we call home.

For more than 50 years, the Manor has provided instruction to hundreds of people who share a love of all things horses. Adults of all ages have turned their own passion into careers working as riding instructors, barn managers, farriers, leather workers and more. Meredith Manor graduates are spread across the country and around the globe, serving as ambassadors for horses and for Meredith Manor itself.

Here’s what one MM graduate had to say:

“If you truly want to work WITH horses, there is nowhere better than Meredith Manor. If you actually want to learn more sophisticated, elegant and subtle com-munication with animals, this is the place for you. If you are looking for something deeper and more enduring than a varsity sport, people who will challenge your comfort zone and push you to become better, and if you are willing to let go of your ego and realize how much you still don't know about riding horses... MM is for you. It taught me ways to purposefully partner with another species based on mutual understanding and respect, and I continue to pass these core values on to my own students and clients more than twenty years later.”

It’s my hope to help share the good news of Meredith Manor, its students, instructors and supporters and I’m hoping all of you will help by offering ideas such as people to feature and topics to cover. We know first hand the beauty and magic of this place, let’s help others discover it too.

Folwell, 52, is a writer and editor living in Williamstown, WV. She is married to her husband Norm and the mother of three children, Jack, Josh and Sophie. She is the former editor/publisher of The Marietta Times and previously worked at newspapers in Ohio and West Virginia. A native of Pennsylvania, she is a graduate of West Virginia University. Send your ideas to; you can also find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I appreciate Meredith Manor and everything that it's done to help make Samantha the young woman she's becoming.
Parents of Samantha Buncher: 2008 Riding Master VI Graduate