Put Your Skill and Knowledge on the line in for the 2019 Competition!

The 3rd year will be our biggest, best year to date!

The “Why”

The Appalachian Trainer Face Off is a concept that showcases adoptable horses and good trainers!

Heart of Phoenix has nearly 40,000 engaged followers across the United States on Facebook and Instagram, along over a million views on Youtube, as well as hundreds of thousands of yearly hits on our blog. The exposure for trainers is tremendous during this event on both the Appalachian Trainer FACE off page and the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue page, blog and youtube channel.

This exposure means a vastly expanded reach for your training business where you connect with more potential, future clientele. You also build your resume with a competition full of talented trainers across multiple states.

Questions and Answers:

Where do you apply?

Please Apply Now with our ALL New Online Application here

Applications are accepted from January 1st through April 1st.


Click here for the initial process.

Upon selection to participate, You will attend a day event in May to pick up Your rescue horse in Lesage, WV, which will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Trainers will post photos or videos at least weekly of their horse on their personal social media page or business page (many  trainers create ATFO pages, though, and that is welcome). Heart of Phoenix will share all of your updates all of our social media and online outlets with links to the trainer’s website, email and social media pages. This is where you ” online market” your skill and your partner for the next 100 days. Heart of Phoenix may sponsor the best of these submissions to gain interest nationwide in the event.

Trainers will work to gain sponsors that cover products, feed, farrier and dental care during the 100 days. Sponsors are acknowledged on T-shirts sold during the 100 days, as well as on our social media outlets. Trainers receive a score for horse well they secure sponsors, and this tallies in the final marketing score.

Trainers will market their #TEAM T-shirts during the event, and the trainer with the largest number of shirts sold will receive a prize, and this market factors in the final market score.

Trainers will conditions and care for their horses to bring a shining example of an athlete to the event, and they will be scored on overall condition of their horse.


While trainers will offer their training services in exchange for the opportunity and exposure offered by the event, as well as for the potential of winning placement prizes (which will be announced as sponsors let us know their donation offerings), the perk is that during this 100 day event, trainers and the rescue will be providing exposure to these horses. During the time they are marketed, people across the USA will be able to submit an application to take part in an evening AUCTION where the horses that take part will receive bids both online and in person to adopt the horses on a HOP contract. 1/2 of the adoption fee will go to the trainer, so sky is the limit here. The 2018 High adoption fee horse was $8,000, and there was $5,000 in total value in the full event prize packages.

Prize Packages will increase for 2019!  Cash prizes, in addition to prize packages, are awarded to trainers from 1-3rd place in each of the two divisions.

All trainers receive 1/2 of the approved auction bid for their trained HOP horses.

Your 100 days hold a lot of potential for you! We have seen blogs reach 100k unique readers, youtube videos achieve half a million views and Facebook posts reach well over 2 million people. The exposure stands to be valuable, the bragging rights could be tremendous fun, but the effect you will have on a horse’s life that had no hope before you stepped in will be Priceless.


All horses will have two Heart of Phoenix trainers evaluate them to assign points to make certain the horses are at a level playing field for competitors. This year, horses will have a longer evaluation to assign points than in 2018.

Heart of Phoenix will draw trainer’s names, and trainers will select a horse from a group (even the final trainer drawn will have more than once horse to select from).

Trainers will sign agreements with HOP that covers liability and care terms.

Horses are required to complete at a very FIT body score minimum of 4.5. Horses must arrive to the show grounds hydrated, normal temperature, be free of a cough, nasal drainage and be fit and healthy. Horses not in heavy competition condition will be disqualified.

A vet will be on sight during pick up in May to evaluate each horses’ condition. A vet will be on site for the event to “check in” each team. A vet will be required to complete a check list and approval a horse for competition. This decision is final.

A “CONDITION” score will be added to trainers’ overall total points.

Trainers will leave with a print out of the competition scoring and events. Trainers must have a safe trailer, come prepared to handle a potentially feral horse and cover their own travel costs to and from the pick up location.

Horses able to be safely handled will come Up to date on vet, farrier and dental care, and feral horses will need to receive this care as soon as the trainer makes sufficient progress with the equine. Heart of Phoenix covers vet care horses need after they go to their trainer unless the trainer is able to cover this through sponsorships.

Travel costs are the responsibility of the trainer. You will have the horse for approximately 100 days. During this time, you will be responsible for quality minerals, hay and grain costs entirely (which is tax deductible should the trainer wish a deduction ).

In 2018, over 20 trainers competed, and the majority secured many sponsors from their communities to cover their full costs, including incidental vet care, routine farrier care and supplement care. If a trainer is unable to secure sponsors, Heart of Phoenix will cover farrier and dental costs, as needed.

Should a horse turn up lame, HOP will provide a back up horse and based on when this occurs, as weighted / point system will be used to keep the contest fair. We understand conditions and illness arise for many reasons, and most of the time, minor illness can be addressed during the competition and the horse still remain with the trainer to compete.


The Face Off will be in Winfield, WV on August 23-24th.  Trainers will arrive at Winfield Riding Arena in West Virginia to begin the jurying process on by 3pm Friday (unless emergencies occur, late arrivals will mean disqualification) and stay through Saturday Evening. Camping is offered at Winfield, and hotels are local. Sunday stay is allowed on site for horses or camping.

Trainers are encouraged to set up a training booth at the event and market yourself to the crowd.

At least 3 well established industry judges will be covering the event.

Some of the main criteria for the judges to consider are:

Respect and Trust between horse and horseman/woman, Confidence and sensitivity of the trainer, technique and use of force.

Points will be assigned  based on:        

  • Unable to complete task,
  • able to complete,
  • able to complete well or
  • able to excel
  • Condition of the horse

Events will include:

Moving the horse 

  • Ability to get forward motion
  • Control of walk, trot (or gait), and lope (canter)
  • Difficulty of Horse

Desensitizing / Ground work of the horse

  • Ability of trainer to settle the horse
  • Tarps, flag and/or ropes, ground poles
  • Horses’s acceptance of the saddle & pad
  • Riding Portion
  • How prepared is the horse to be mounted
  • Horse’s willingness to stand
  • How horse turns and stops
  • Ridden both directions at the walk, trot and canter
  • Ability to load into and back out of a trailer
  • Willingness to stand tied

Following the end of the 1st days event, the highest scoring 8 competitors will continue on to Day 2 of the competition. 

Scoring from Day 1 will combine with Day 2 Scoring


OBSTACLE Trail Course 

  • While navigating the course:
  • Ability to control spookiness
  • Ability to get forward motion
  • Stop their horse
  • Cross, Move Around, Through and Over various obstacles


Free Style Performance 

Free style competitions are entirely the Trainer’s choice following the end of the obstacle course portion. Pyrotechnics, blank gun fire, jumps and the link are all permitted, as well as trailers/trucks.

Trainers have 7 minutes total to set up and perform. Trainers may use as much of the time on set up or performance as they chose.  All trainers will be required to submit their planned freestyle at least 2 weeks before the event.