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The end of the #ATFO competition was a new beginning

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

for 21 horses that were adopted out to approved homes. What an absolute stunning accomplishment for the entire team of Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue!

After only 100 days of training, horses returned to Winfield, WV and showed off their capabilities during a two day event, ending with a captivating freestyle competition for the audience!

According to Tinia Creamer, founder of Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, Inc. and creator of the Appalachian Trainer Face off, nearly 1000 people from near and far attended this year's two-day event. Noteworthy to mention is, that these horses generated impressive adoption fees totaling nearly $30,000. WOW!

Pro and Amateur trainers showcased their rescue horses in various classes: a technical portion, an obstacle course, and the freestyle event. All under the watch full eyes of well-known judges Colton Woods, Josh Lyons, Richie Wingfield and Ariana Sakaris. This gave spectators as well as approved adopters a chance to see their favorite horse perform in various situations. Keep in mind, most of the horses have been absolutely feral, untouched or experienced abuse prior to this program.

In addition to the competition, an Open Horse Show took place as well. I was right on time to catch the beginning of the costume class. Oh my...just too cute not to share this! My heart melted when I saw all these young kids walking into the arena while their family stood around the arena and cheered for them!

My main interest was the Freestyle portion at the end of the event and I was really curious about how trainers would incorporate their horses strength while overcoming their fear, being in this huge arena with a big crowd cheering them on. I also wanted to catch up with the teams I visited prior (see my previous two blogs), cheer them on and see their incredible progress.

Instead of describing you how creative some trainers got and how they pushed their own limits, just watch this video featuring some highlights from the freestyle portion. From jumping over fire, gun shots and smoke, nothing was left out.

(Video was taken with my iPhone)

I was absolutely blown away and did not expect any of that! With so much going on, I had a tough time deciding if I wanted to take pictures or video, simply because of the creativity of the performances. It was amazing to see of how trainers helped and supported each other, gave a lending hand to their peers and also a shoulder to cry on, when needed!

The very last performance was Brenda Hanson with her rescue horse Detson. She was the Winner of last year's event, so everyone was curious to see her perform. By then it was around 10pm and the lighting was pretty dark, so I took much more video than pictures.

Here is a "before" picture with Brenda and Detson, when she picked him up in May prior training.

Watch his transformation, 100 days later:

WOW! Give them a hand, will you? Brenda and Detson earned "Reserved Champion" in the Pro Division at the end of the event. Detson also was successfully adopted to a new home.

If you watched the freestyle video to the end, you saw Pro trainer Dallas Schleg come in on his horse Everest, sitting on a hay bale while being pulled into the arena on a truck.

Here is a "before" and "after" image of Everest. Seeing the sign on his stall door back in May, can you believe that he was crowned the OVERALL CHAMPION in the Pro division?

There are so many more success stories to tell, it's hard to mention them all, but you can follow them all on Facebook.

Don't forget, EVERYONE involved around one horse is volunteering their work: from trainers, vets, farriers, equine massage therapists to supplement suppliers. All come together for one cause:

Give one horse a chance and change his life forever!

Here are some more images from this beautiful event:

For more detailed information about the Appalachian Trainer Face Off, check out their website:

This is the final part of the #ATFO blog. You can find Part I, II and III here:

#therighthorse #ATFO #righthorseroadshow #horserescue #equinephotographer #horsephotography #horseshow #horseevent

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