Put Your Skill and Knowledge on the line in this Competition!

The “Why”

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

Heart of Phoenix has well over 30,000 engaged followers across the United States on Facebook and Instagram, along with millions of views on Youtube, thousands of unique blog readers, so the exposure for trainers if 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 means a vastly expanded reach for your training business where you reach more potential, future clientele.

As a rescue and equine organization, we know a primary reason in our area that horses end up without a home is lack of a solid foundation. Another issue is people being unaware of who to reach out to when they need a trainer!

Questions and Answers:

Where do you apply?

Please Apply Now with our ALL New Online Application here

Forward this link for your references to fill out here

2019 Applications  will be accepted from January 1st through April 1st.

Trainers will be selected based on the merit of their entire submission package.


You will submit a biography,  links to your website/social media pages (if applicable), photos of your facility, a training video, written application and references.

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 submit videos of at least 5 minutes long, several photos and a write up of several paragraphs on the dates listed here (2x monthly, at minimum, but the more you post online, the more interest your work and the horse generates) either on their personal social media pages, Youtube or directly to Heart of Phoenix. 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 “market” your skill and your partner for the next 100 days. Heart of Phoenix will sponsor the best of these submissions to gain interest nationwide in the event.

We do require extremely compassionate horsemanship, AVMA Vet guidelines to be followed and we never allow marginally debatable training or care techniques during this competition or training  time period. Should trainers be found to previously or currently use training methods that do not line up with these requirements, they will be denied or removed.

Your 100 days hold a lot of potential for you! We have seen blogs reach 50k unique readers, youtube videos achieve nearly 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.

Chances are high that this will prove a fabulous opportunity for your TALENT to receive an unprecedented platform! Our hope is your work as a trainer will gain fans and followers during this process, while we find homes for horses in need and show others these horses have tremendous potential!


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 be 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.

Additionally, we will award an “online” fan favorite prize based on your submitted content.


All horses will have a Heart of Phoenix trainer evaluate them to assign points to make certain the horses are at a level playing field for competitors.

Heart of Phoenix will draw trainer’s names, and trainers will selected a horse from a group (which will have at least 2 horses more than the number of trainers, to allow a choice even for the last name drawn). Trainers will sign agreements with HOP that covers liability and care terms. 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.

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 hay and grain costs (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 costs, as well as any needed vet 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.

Horses are required to complete at a 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 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.


The Face Off will be in Winfield, WV in Late August (date will be posted soon).  Trainers will arrive at Winfield Riding Arena in West Virginia to begin the jurying process on ta Friday and stay through Saturday Evening. Camping is offered at Winfield, and hotels are local.

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

3 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

DAY TWO  beginning at 10am

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 8 minutes total to set up and perform. Trainers may use as much of the time on set up or performance as they chose.