Before applying to compete in the challenge, please read ALL of this information. Submission of your Trainer Application as a potential competitor implies that you have read this information and agree to comply with the guidelines set forth below:

The Heart of the Horse Trainers Challenge is a 120 day training competition seeking trainers separated into three divisions: Professional, Amateur and Youth. Trainer participants must employ humane, natural horsemanship techniques and must desire to become the best trainer/equestrian they can be. 

  • Trainer Applications will be accepted from September 15 – November 15, 2022. 
  • Selection of participating trainers will be based on quality of application determined by a panel of judges within and outside of Mississippi Horses Rescue and The Safe Horse Project Committee. 
  • Trainers selected for the competition will be announced in social media the weekend of November 26th. Selected trainers will also be notified via email. Subsequent information and instructions will also be delivered via email.

 

Initial Trainer Meeting and Selection/Pick up of horses:

Participating trainers will attend a mandatory two day meeting on January 14 & 15, 2023 at the State Fairgrounds in Jackson, MS. Competitors will sign their Trainer Agreements and have the opportunity to inspect the challenge horses on Sat., Jan. 14th. Trainers will draw number lots to determine the order of selection privilege. Selections will begin on Sat. afternoon and will conclude Sun. morning if necessary. Specific time schedule of events and meetings during the two days will be provided by email after trainer selections are announced.  Trainers will sign a Foster to Train agreement before taking their challenge horse home. Health certificates will be written on any horses chosen by out of state trainers before they depart.

How fostering a horse in training works:

All challenge horses will be current on vaccinations and will have a current Coggins. Most of the horses will also have had their teeth done and feet trimmed. SHP will cover routine vet and farrier expenses while the challenge horse is in training. If a trainer wants their challenge horse to be seen by a specialist, they should discuss it with SHP in advance if they wish to be reimbursed. The trainer/foster will cover daily care/feed expenses (we are trying to negotiate a feed sponsorship to help with those expenses, but those plans are not solidified at this writing). It is encouraged for you to solicit sponsors to cover your feed, grooming supplies, supplements and travel expenses. If you solicit sponsors to cover specific tack or equipment for your challenge horse, those items should go with the horse if it is adopted at the Heart of the Horse Expo adoption event. Each Challenge horse/trainer team will have their own page/link on the Safe Horse Project website and will be promoted on social media to create interest in each horse/trainer team. It will be a great tool to promote sponsors.

What is the cost for clinics:

There will be several clinics offered by recognized clinicians during the 120 day training period. The dates/locations of these clinics will be given in the Trainer Information Packets. Challenge trainers from all divisions are invited and encouraged to attend these clinics (with or without their Challenge horses) at no charge. These clinics are intended to enrich and expand your training knowledge and techniques, and may provide insights to solving any particular problems or “sticking points” you may encounter during your 120 day journey with your equine Challenge partner.

Heart of the Horse Trainers Challenge Finals

Trainers are required to check in at the State Fairgrounds in Jackson, MS on Thursday, May 18, 2023, and be available to meet and interview potential adopters that afternoon to early evening. Health & Ground Manners classes and Horsemanship classes will be judged on Friday, May 19th, with additional interviews of potential adopters possible that afternoon or evening. Freestyle classes will be judged on Saturday, May 20th. All of the challenge horses will be available for adoption to approved bidders in a Safe Horse Auction that will begin after final awards the on May 20th.  Trainers must also be available to meet with the adopter either on Saturday evening or on Sunday morning, May 21st. All meetings will conclude before noon on Sunday, which is the deadline for picking up horses.

Other Basic Requirements:

Challenge trainers must be willing to commit to consistent video and photo updates of your horse’s progress during the 120 day training period. Plan to work to market your training horse. Schedule meetings with potential adopters and offer discounted lessons after adoption to the adopters to encourage a lasting partnership. In order to place a bid in the Safe Horse Auction, potential adopters must have already met with the trainer and the horse in a scheduled viewing/try out. Those appointments can be made either at your facility, or scheduled on May 18th or 19th when you come to the finals competition in Jackson. You will be asked for your assessment of potential adopters and will have the authority to disqualify a bidder if you feel they are not an appropriate match for your challenge horse. 

Division Requirements:

We ask that you be very honest and candid about which of the three divisions you qualify for to make the selection process smoother during our screening.

Professional Division requirements:

  • You must earn a substantial amount of your income from training. A few exceptions may be made for individuals who do not train full time, but do meet all other professional division requirements and have an established reputation within the equine community.
  • Have a business website or business social media presence.
  • The skill set of a professional as determined by the selection committee.
  • Age requirement is 23 and up. Exception for lower age (no less than 20) may be made if the applicant meets all other requirements of this division and/or has trained for MHR or competed in a previous SHP trainer challenge.
  • Provide a 5 minute (unedited) training video and a 5 minute video including ground work, mounting and ridden W/T/C footage.
  • Horses for the Professional Division may be unhandled/feral in type. Some will likely not be able to be haltered. Therefore, participants are advised to use stock or enclosed trailers that can safely haul a loose horse when picking up.
  • Descriptions of horses will be posted on the web site and participants will be able to choose horses grouped by division and in the order of draw.

 

Amateur Division Requirements:

This division is for adult trainers (19 yrs. or older) who do not accept monetary compensation for training horses for the public and are open to expanding their training techniques through mentor-ship and instruction from professional trainers and/or clinicians.

  • You must have at least two years of verifiable training experience with either your own horses or as a volunteer to your local equine community at no charge.
  •  A solid list compromised of show history, mentor and/or peer references to create a portfolio to establish your skill as a trainer
  • You must have horsemanship skills beyond that of just a good rider.
  • You must have knowledge of ground work and under saddle training, and the ability to develop those skills in your challenge horse.
  • Provide a 5 minute (unedited) training video and a 5 minute video including ground work, mounting and ridden W/T/C footage. 
  • Horses for the Amateur division will be at least halter trained, and may have had some training at one time. They will be pointed, through assessment from our team, to even the playing field.
  • Descriptions of horses will be posted on the web site and participants will be able to choose horses grouped by division and in the order of draw.
  • Amateur trainers are permitted (and encouraged) to train under the periodic supervision of a more experienced mentor. The mentor may instruct or advise the amateur trainer, but may not actually handle, train, or demonstrate with the challenge horse.

 

Youth Division Requirements:

  • Must have experience handling horses and riding, and at least some prior experience in training.
  • Age requirement is 13 – 18. Some exceptions to the minimum age will be made if the youth has prior experience with training and has participated in training clinics.
  • All Youth trainers are required to work under the supervision of a mentor/trainer approved by the MHR and SHP selection committee for the entirety of the challenge training period. The mentor/trainer may instruct or advise the amateur trainer, but may not actually handle, train, or demonstrate with the challenge horse.
  • Horses for the Youth division will be mostly ponies or small horses, are at least halter trained, and may have had some prior training. They will be pointed, through assessment by our team, to even the playing field.
  • Youth will compete using the same training techniques used by MHR.
  • Descriptions of horses will be posted on the web site and participants will be able to choose horses grouped by division and in the order of draw.

 

How to apply for participation as a Trainer Competitor:

Applicants for all divisions should fill out this on-line application – The Safe Horse Project Trainer Application

As instructed in the application, there are several video and/or photo requirements to be emailed to the selection committee. All of those items must be received no later than November 15th in order for your application to be considered.  Photos and videos are to be emailed to safehorse.trainers@gmail.com

What if you are not selected to compete in the Heart of the Horse Trainers Challenge?

There are a limited number of slots available for participation in the Trainers Challenge. If you are not selected to compete, please inquire about participating in The Safe Horse Project’s new Diamond Project program