Welcome to the Appalachian Trainer Face Off

We are so exited for 2023!

The Appalachian Trainer Face Off has some big news and a few updates and clarifications for our followers, trainers and future applicants.

Our board of directors and officers had our end of the year meeting recently, and we are pleased to say after a lot of years of going back to the drawing board, we were so proud of the event this year.


That said, we have found the terms we use: Professional and Amateur have been very confusing because the horse show community has clear definitions for these terms, and the how we have used them have no connection.

We are leaning toward Silver and Gold Divisions, and we’ve thought of Mastery and Journeyman Divisions, but we are open to suggestions through December.

When we select trainers and place them into a division, far more than whether their income comes from training for the public factors into the placements for competitors.

That typically actually plays no significant role. We look at a plethora of videos of a training working, marketing ability, feral training history, facility set up, client history, trouble horse success and overall platform.


We also have had questions regarding the horses that run through auction and what the goals are for horses in the ATFO.

We do not set timelines for horses in this event. While are try hard to NOT put horses into the competition who cannot be adopted by average homes in 100 days, we know that horses are unique and individual. Horses are who they are. There are horses who enter this event that aren’t ready for most homes in 100 days. That is ok. We ONLY WANT trainers to take a horse as far a kind trainer takes them in 100 or so days. I want a trainer to do all they can fairly do with a horse in the timeline. The best horse often cannot ever be suitable for typical homes.

We have a screening process that designates a level to adopters. In 2022, we did not have homes interested in adopted certain horses in a higher level tier. This isn’t a fault of a trainer or horse. It SIMPLY speaker to the small number of higher level homes for horses in America. We decided to not send horses through the adoption auction who had no approved homes, and we will always move forward with this protocol. We will NEVER push horses to be more than ever can be, and we will never ask trainer PUSH them to be more than they should be in the allotted timeframe.

OUR goal is a horse being trainer to the point he can be comfortably taken in 100 days. We ask a trainer respect the horse.

We have had the FEWEST, by far, number of returns of adopted horses this year than ever before, and I know it is before we have an improved standard of approval and adoption.

3) The goal of the ATFO is. . .

Not adoption. It is training the horse you have fairly.

4) How Trainers select horses will never change. We talk to the trainers about the horses. We want trainers TO ALWAYS have a chance to understand the horses before selection. We always will.

5) We sometimes have questions about the difficulty of the trail course. People will ask 2 things:

* These are not natural courses, so how does this prove

helpful? – Massively! It shows how a horse respondes to the unknown, and of all the things you can show about a green horse, this is it the most vital thing you may share. *Next, we always consult the judges, who have trained far more horses than anyone giving us feedback, and in the last few years, they have always said the course is exactly they expect from 100 day horses. * Lastly, I hear questions about whether we want horses to be shown at their best OR do I want larger fees – I want horses shown exactly as they are. I want nothing more than a fair view of 100 day horses.

6) Though a rare situation, we want to clarify, as we always do during pick up – – –

If you are in this event to make money, do not take part. You absolutely CAN make a lot of money, but the odds are, if you do a great job, you will make a small amount of money and have an opportunity to be marketed on a massive platform. That value of the marketing is based on what you give us. We experienced some very hurtful statements this year when a trainer didn’t get the money hoped for in an adoption event. Of course, while this isn’t our fault, the rescue was blamed in a public way.

We want future trainer to know, while we offer an amazing platform, and while are a non-profit organization, the burden of marketing falls on the content you produce. After that, sometimes, the right home isn’t a high dollar home.

If making a lot of money is your ONLY goal, do not apply for this event. You can make a lot, but odds are, unless you market well and win, you may just break even.

As someone who created this event and has worked building HOP for 13 years, having never taken any money, I believe it is worth it.

DO NOT Come to the ATFO with a money goal. You may make it, but if that is all that matters, go elsewhere.


The ATFO is placing you in front of amazing judges, and we have a huge platform. We want the best of the best, and truly, we are all blown away by the caliber of the candidates we review.

Thank you all for applying.

You all have a journey ahead. You all need to learn. We do, too.

Thank to you for believing in this event.

Thank you to our 2022 SPONSORS:


in 2021, 2,500 attended, 40 horses were adopted through the whole event, 75 horses were trained, $350,000 worth of training was donated and over a MILLION dollars was put into the local economy!

– Tinia Creamer, founder and president OF hEART OF PHOENIX

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