WINFIELD, W.Va. - Dozens of horses rescued from situations of neglect or in danger of being slaughtered are getting their chance at a new life because of a trainer showcase event that will culminate locally this weekend.
The Appalachian Trainer Face Off, an annual competition by the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, challenges trainers to work with rescued horses for 100 days to prepare them for adoption.
During an event Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24, in Winfield, West Virginia, 24 professional and amateur trainers from as far away as Wyoming and Texas will showcase the progress they've made with the horses, most of whom were essentially unhandled or feral at the beginning of the competition. The event culminates in a freestyle demonstration, followed by an "auction" of the horses to pre-approved adopters Saturday evening. Proceeds from the auction help the Heart of Phoenix rescue more horses in need.
"This is an amazing event," said Tinia Creamer, director of Heart of Phoenix. "These are horses who, through no fault of their own, ended up in terrible circumstances. They've been rehabbed, as far as their health, but had no training, which makes them poor candidates for adoption. Through the efforts of talented trainers, they've been brought along to be handled and ridden and to do the jobs that will make them attractive to adopters. ... Each year, people are amazed by how wonderful these horses are, and many adopters go home with just the right equine partner for them."
The public is invited to watch the Face Off competition, as well as a horse show running concurrently during the day on Saturday at the Winfield Riding Club, 9254 W.Va. 34, Winfield. Competition kicks off with the "bonus horse" division at 1:30 p.m. Friday, followed by the technical portion of the main competition.
The Face Off continues at 9 a.m. Saturday, with the showcase freestyle event starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by awards at 8 p.m. and the auction at 8:30 p.m. Donations to Heart of Phoenix, the largest equine advocacy organization in Appalachia, will be accepted at the gate.