The Trainer’s Challenge is an annual training competition put on by the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation in which trainers take a horse from the MHARF program who has not been previously started under saddle. After putting in approximately 150 days of training together, the horse and trainer teams compete for cash prizes, trophies and ribbons in 5 classes at the event (Halter/Condition, Pleasure, Trail/Obstacle, Freestyle, and Vet/Farrier). The horses are then made available for adoption by silent auction to bidders who have been pre-approved to adopt..
We originally started the Trainer’s Challenge in 2008 as a way to provide more exposure for our adoptable horses, as well as to maximize the amount of funding we had available for training. It has always been our experience that a well-trained horse is much less likely to become an “unwanted” horse. We feel that giving a horse the basic training it needs to be a “good citizen” on the ground as well as under saddle is the best way to ensure successful adoptive placement for that horse. By holding a training competition, we are able to stretch funds much farther than if we paid trainers on a monthly basis. Not only are we getting a great deal on training, but we have an adoption rate of 95% for horses that have competed in the Challenge!
Aside from the benefit to the horses, the Challenge also offers a platform for area trainers to show their skills and recruit clients. We have welcomed trainers from all over Minnesota, as well as from Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota. Our trainers have come from many different backgrounds with specialties in many different disciplines. This wide variety of trainers coming from many different locations provides the public with many choices when looking for a trainer for their own horses (which will then, in turn, help keep those horses from possibly turning up as an “unwanted horse” needing rescue in the future).
The Challenge also serves as a great educational opportunity for the public on equine welfare. The event draws spectators from all over Minnesota, as well as from neighboring states. People watching the Challenge learn about the backgrounds of the horses and see that rescued horses can go on to have very bright futures!