Creating Partnerships and Breaking Down Barriers in the Horse World: Heart of Phoenix finds amazing success with the Appalachian Trainer Face Off

For some years now, Heart of Phoenix has worked to find as many ways as possible to accomplish two extremely vital things:

To break down barriers that exist which suggested
 horses that have been abused and neglected are worth less than 
those fortunate enough to have encountered better people in their lives


To partner with horse industry professionals to work together to 
see a better future for the animals we all love so much


Simply rescuing a horse is not enough. It never will be. I remember a blog penned by a vet working in the small animals world, and his words have stuck with me the last year or so, and that was that we simply cannot sanctuary or rescue our way out of the issues animals in need face.

We have to be proactive and create real, lasting change. 

The time seems right, and I suspect awesome change is on the horizon. I am finally seeing a small turn in the tide in the horse community. There are groups and organizations now having conversations beyond straight forward “pick up, rehab and house” approach; the horse industry seems willing, interested and open to the conversation, though we certainly will not agree on everything.


The Annual Open Show we’ve hosted for the last 5 years has been a dip in the water, though, to help us break down the barriers, crack the ice, so to speak. It has helped build connections with the horse community in various disciplines, helped us meet trainers, judges and potential adopters already committed to being lifelong horsemen and women. It helped put Heart of Phoenix out into the line of vision of the horse community, to be sure. Last year, we changed it up a bit by bringing in a trainer we’ve met, Mike Hurst, through our efforts to be proactive, to do a demo with a previously unhandled horse, Paladin. It was a huge success. This year, the time was simply right for something more. The Appalachian Trainer Face Off brought what I believe we needed to the region we work in that had never taken place here on various levels.

Trainers responded. Wanted to help. Were proud to help. Competitive. Kind.

Judges came forward with the same attitude.

The Horse Community began to watch, comment, 
take intense interest across our region. 

Adopters put in applications to offer homes.

The barriers between the equine world and rescue seemed to 
start to disappear.


The Future Face Off competitions, as well as the open shows, clinics and demos, will serve to grow partnerships, bonds and show the horse industry that valuable partners can be found where they had not been looking before, and these efforts will facilitate the notion (and fact) equine advocacy is a valuable, noble effort anyone in the equine world can take part in and support!

The Face Off not only served as an excellent way to really showcase a great group of incredible trainers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky, but it served to show horses that have been through a great deal and that have overcome so much at their very best to thousands and thousands of people that likely would not have looked at a “rescue horse” as an option before, and that is PRICELESS.

Adoption IS SUCH a viable option for finding your EQUINE partner for any discipline.

Just ask trainer Adam Black, our FACE OFF Champion, about Dune (our highest adoption fee horse at over $3,000)


or Dan about Rory rory1

Or Mike, our reserve Champion, about Katnisskatniss2.jpg

Or Olivia about Zoey


Or Sunni Bell Stables about Dempsey, our winning youth pony


Or Adkins Quarter Horses about Soleil & Dori



To learn how to apply to be a trainer, adult or youth portion, in next year’s FACE OFF in Winfield in August 2018,  visit this link:

Welcome to the Appalachian Trainer Face Off

To learn about adoption at Heart of Phoenix, visit this link:

To learn about the adoptable horses we have, visit this link:

To see the albums taken by volunteers of the event, visit this link:

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