by Maggi Painter

(***"When you heart is in you dream, no challenge is too extreme!” This
is the motto Mercer lives by.***)

Walking horse riding instructor Regan Mercer believes in building her
student's confidence through horsemanship. Mercer is not only a
successful instructor, but through her teaching methods, she's enhanced
the lives of the students she teaches.
“I love to see the way horses and people communicate,” said Mercer. “I
have seen so many shy and unfit people become outgoing and athletic.”
Mercer’s start in the horse business is in part due to her mother's
occupation. Her mother was a high school math teacher who taught
well-known walking horse trainer Keith Blackburn. Years later, Mercer's
introduction to the show industry came when Blackburn allowed Mercer to
show a customer's performance gelding until she got a horse of her own.
Mercer, who became interested in formal equitation when she was a
teenager, kept her horse in training with Blackburn until she was about
As a Christmas gift from her mom, Mercer received 15 lessons from
equitation instructor Nicole Carswell. By the age of 16 Mercer had
become very competitive in equitation and needed a proper equitation
“My mom bought me Shadow Boy’s Pride who I won many equitation classes
with,” said Mercer.
During 1998 and 1999 Mercer trained intensely under Carswell's
instruction. “I also was her assistant and gave about 15 lessons a
week,” said Mercer. In 1999 all of Mercer’s hard work paid off as she
captured the Equitation World Championship.
Also in 1999, Mercer moved to Murfreesboro to attend Middle Tennessee
State University and to build her own riding school. After graduating
in 2003 with a degree in animal science and a minor in education,
Mercer was hired as an instructor at Midland Equestrian Center.
“Within six months I built the program [at Midland] to 25 students,”
said Mercer. In 2004 Mercer, who also presently instructs at
therapeutic riding school Great Strides, relocated to Crowder Farms.
Mercer currently gives about 40 lessons per week. “I have 35 students
in my private business and 12 students in the therapeutic program,” she
Along with winning her own world championship, she instructed her
sister Megan Allen to a reserve world championship in the Adult
Equitation class in 2000. A few years later, Mercer helped direct
riding student Danielle Reid to the 2004 11 and Under Park Pleasure
World Championship.
The 2005 year has brought forth new rules for the equitation division
and Mercer believes these new rules have been a positive direction for
which the division to move.
“I am excited about them [the new rules]," said Mercer. "I think it
gives the rider the opportunity to perform their riding skills through
patterns and cantering.”
Mercer is also a big supporter of the academy program, which was
introduced by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors'
Association. “The academy program has given instructors a place where
their lesson horses can be competitive and our riders can learn how to
show in a small and safe environment,” said Mercer.
In succeeding in the equitation division, Mercer feels finding the
right horse for a rider is very important. “The rider must connect
emotionally and physically with their mount,” said Mercer. She believes
the horse must fit the personality of their rider in order for the
rider to be able to effectively control the horse.
If you are interested in learning to ride feel free to give Regan a
call at 931-684-2040.