A generous gift to the Horsemanship Program at Saint Joseph Seminary College, which provides opportunities for seminarians to learn responsibility, build confidence and improve team building, will help ensure the program continues for years to come.

Seminarian Adam Fenstermaker during one of the classes at the Highlands Riding Center.

Now known as the Fr. Gregory Boquet Horsemanship Program, the class, which began in the Fall of 2014, will carry on thanks to a donation from Gail and Jimmie Martin. The program takes place at the Highlands Riding Center in Folsom, LA, about 10 miles north of the campus. Led by owner Elizabeth Simmons, also a history professor at Saint Joseph, horses are used as a medium by which seminarians consider their roles as future priests. Complemented by the seminarians’ studies and formation, the course serves to fill in some of the personality and leadership gaps present when they arrive.

“When we heard about Fr. Gregory’s Horsemanship Program we knew it was divinely inspired. Jesus taught his disciples to serve others rather than be served. It takes the focus off self and on caring for another being,” said Ms. Martin.   

Following the extensive flooding at Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College last March, the future of the program was uncertain.

Fr. Gregory takes a ride last fall during the Horsemanship Program's class at Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College.

“Gail and Jimmie’s gift is a testament to how successful and well received the course has been and how vital it is to teaching good men to become good priests in the church. Their generosity won’t be forgotten,” said Fr. Gregory Boquet, O.S.B., president and rector of the seminary college.

On Friday afternoons, a small group of seminarians travel to the riding center for the course where they must exhibit proper techniques for taking care of the horses. First, the seminarian and the horse learn to form a bond of trust with each other, overcoming any fear or insecurity with respect and confidence.

“Variously assigned tasks at the horse farm provide opportunities to develop responsibility, caring, patience, flexibility and, my favorite, humility (cleaning the stalls) just to name a few,” added Ms. Martin. 

Only after they have mastered these techniques do the seminarians earn the opportunity to actually ride the horses.

“As a parish priest a man is responsible for pastoring many diverse personalities and will need gifts of caring, humility and confidence, all done in agape love.  If he was fortunate enough to be a seminarian at Saint Joseph Seminary College and be part of Fr. Gregory’s Horsemanship Program he has a head start to an effective Christ-like priesthood. We are honored to be a small part of this rewarding program,” said Ms. Martin.

For more information on Saint Joseph Seminary College, which welcomed a record 151 seminarians this semester, visit To learn how you can help with the recovery, visit