LEESBURG — The winter weather breaks and there is a hint of cool spring in the air. There is that smell that only horse lovers really know: fresh shavings in the barn and the fragrance of sweet hay that exudes from the beautiful creatures, creatures that are in many ways like people. They have distinct personalities, unique behaviors and habits.
Sometimes the horses behave mysteriously or mischievously or just badly.
Enter Michael Gascon, The Horse Guru. He has been called “a true Mississippi original” from Poplarville, Miss. On March 9-10 Gascon, The Horse Guru, will be in Leesburg.
Gascon is a fifth-generation horse whisperer. He has been riding “since before I can even remember.” He’s studied at The School of Equestrian Arts in Spain and traveled extensively to England, Germany, Denmark, Mexico, Canada, Mongolia and Australia, learning, competing and training horses. He says he wants to learn about other countries and their cultures as related to their horsemanship.
Gascon was one of 14 U.S. riders in a group of 44 worldwide riders to compete in the 2018 Mongol Derby. The Derby is said to be the world’s longest and toughest horse race. It is a 1,000-kilometer (just under 622 miles) race. The man they call The Horse Guru said the race was “the adventure of a lifetime.”
Gascon will host a clinic March 9-10 in Leesburg, hosted by Michelle Morton at her beautiful farm, Hootie’s Horse Haven, located at 275 Smithville Road. The clinic, which will run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, is a rain-or-shine event. In the event of inclement weather, the clinic will be moved under a covered arena.
Gascon has been cited as the No. 1 horse trainer and clinician in the world today and one of the world’s finest colt starters. Colt starting competitions take an unbroken horse never seen by the trainer and start it from unbroken to under saddle with rider in a specified amount of time. Usually by the end of the day, the trainers have their equine students perform an obstacle course or a task of some kind while being ridden by the trainer.
The Gascon family has more than 400 years of combined horse experience. As a family, the Gascons — father Jaime, mother Cindi, little sister Brooke, and Michael — run Horse Haven Paso Finos in Poplarville and Gascon Horsemanship. They believe that “the family that trains together wins together.” As a family they ride show horses, work cattle, run barrels, practice for shooting while mounted, train warmbloods and start colts. They work in arenas and round pens, teaching people the skills needed to ride both non-gaited and gaited horses.
Michael Gascon says that the family’s mission is simple: “We train horses and teach people how to have crystal clear communication with any horse.”
Gascon works with both gaited and non-gaited horses. He offers clinics and training worldwide. His clinics are for anyone struggling to communicate with their horse. He usually works with around 10 horses per day at the clinics. People can bring their horse for training or just attend the clinic to observe. Gascon Horsemanship strives to ignite the horseman in each owner. His clinics are a gathering of people who have horses or love horses.