University of Minnesota Equine Center helps formerly mistreated horses find new starts

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The University of Minnesota Equine Center and Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation (MHARF) will host a public event to give unwanted horses from across Minnesota a fresh start this Saturday, August 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 2013 Trainer’s Challenge of the Unwanted Horse will help untrained horses donated to the MHARF find new homes. Horses participating in the challenge have never been ridden before but have spent approximately 100 days with Minnesota horse trainers who applied and were approved by the foundation.

Under the watchful eye of professional equine judges, trainers will take their horses through their paces competing for $10,000 in prizes. Horses will perform in an obstacle course (trail class), an under saddle class and a free-style event that can include a variety of exciting tricks. A silent auction for the horses will occur during the day for pre-approved bidders. Many of the Trainer’s Challenge horses are adopted either at the event or within a few weeks of the event. 

“This is a terrific event, it’s amazing to see how talented trainers can take an inexperienced horse without a permanent home and turn it into a horse who is now a willing companion,” said Stephanie Valberg, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the U of M Equine Center and professor of veterinary population medicine.  

The journey from where many of the horses began to Saturday’s challenge has often been long and challenging. You can follow their training and watch the progress of future adoptive, educational or therapy horses on the MHARF blog: z.umn.edu/trainerschallenge

Hurricane, one of the horses participating in this year’s Trainer’s Challenge, was seized from a Missouri farm during a 2011 American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals case involving 117 horses. At the start of the challenge he had limited experiences interacting with humans. See his dramatic transformation this Saturday at the U of M Equine Center and learn more about Hurricane’s story here.

“These horses are the ultimate success story and this is the best pre-purchase opportunity a horse owner could ask for,” said Drew Fitzpatrick, founder and director of the MHARF.

The Trainer’s Challenge will be held at the Leatherdale Equine Center, 1801 Dudley Ave., St. Paul. Admissions price is $5 or the donation of a toiletry or non-perishable food item for a local food bank.