Gettin’ Ranchy: Brianna and Delaware

The Appalachian Trainer Face Off is a little over a week away. How are Brianna and Delaware getting ready? That’s right — another horse show and another skill set.

Earlier this spring, we introduced Horse Nation readers to the Appalachian Trainer Face Off (ATFO), a training competition “that leads to a better view of what horse rescue means, what adoption should look like and how the horse industry can … help horses in a meaningful way.” The training period takes place over the course of 100 days and culminates in a competition from Thursday, August 19 through Saturday, August 21, 2021 in Winfield, West Virginia. Throughout the course of the retraining period and competition, we will be following the journey of amateur trainer Brianna Ivory and her ATFO horse Delaware. You can catch up on the previous pieces in this series here

Brianna and Delaware recently reached their 90 day milestone. That means 90 days since pickup, and only 10 days until competition (and by the time this goes to press, even less). 😳 So how has Brianna made sure that Delaware is competition ready? First and foremost, she is making sure that Delaware is as physically prepared as possible. This has meant good nutrition and consistent body work.

In the case of Delaware’s body progression, pictures speak louder than words:

But getting Delaware’s body ready for competition and life after the ATFO are only part of the journey. Throughout her training process, Brianna has done everything she can to prepare Delaware for life as an all-around mount. From extensive trail riding to mounted shooting to trick riding, Delaware is seeing and doing more in her 100 days of training than many horses do their entire lives. One of those experiences has been an introduction to ranch riding.

Ranch riding is one of the faster growing disciplines in equestrian sport. It offers a variety of classes that include cow work, trail, halter, pleasure and patterns — and Delaware is seeing it all. Brianna was able to find a local ranch riding series that offers plenty of opportunities for novice horses. The Spring into Summer Ranch Show Series, produced by Hohmann Performance Horses, not only has opportunities for novice horses and riders, but also offered a special opportunity for ATFO horses offering classes specifically designed for ATFO competitors.

Going into the show, Brianna was planning to show in the ATFO trail class only, so she focused on that pattern in her work with Delaware. Primarily, she was going to give Delaware more hauling experience and see how she would perform on a judged trail pattern.

Novice Horse/Green Rider Ranch Trail Pattern

However, upon arrival, like all good equestrian friends do, the girls at the show convinced Brianna to enter Delaware in more classes. Brianna recalls, “To be honest, I was guilted into entering. So, we entered the Adult W/T Ranchmanship, Adult W/T Ranch Riding and the Ranch Conformation — Horses 5 and Over classes. We didn’t really prepare for any of those classes, but Delaware was a rockstar and ended up placing in all classes except for one.”

Photo courtesy of Brianna Ivory

Photo courtesy of Brianna Ivory

Contrary to all the after school specials we were shown as kids, peer pressure can pay off. In the case of Brianna and Delaware, it paid off not only in experience (Delware was shown in four classes with barely as many weeks under saddle), but also in ribbons. Their final placings came out as follows:

  • ATFO Ranch Trail Class — First
  • Adult W/T Ranchmanship — Fourth
  • Adult W/T Ranch Riding — Fourth

Photo courtesy of Brianna Ivory

For Delaware’s first show, these are quite the results. More importantly, Delaware hauled quietly and took in the new experience like an old pro. Like so many of the things Brianna has exposed Delaware to, this experience highlights Delaware’s great brain and versatile mount she is turning into.

The culmination of this year’s ATFO is next week! Delaware is learning more each day and is sure to excel in her next home. We are excited to follow Brianna and Delaware’s journey for one more week and look forward to seeing where Delaware lands.

There is till time to support Brianna and Delaware on their ATFO journey. You can do so through a variety of channels. Brianna has created an Amazon wish list for Delaware and cash donations can be made via PayPal. If you would like to make a tax deductible cash donation, you can do so through Heart of Phoenix by sending it through PayPal to [email protected] — just put in the notes that it is for Delaware and Brianna. You can also send donations directly to Brianna. For more information on how to do so, email [email protected]. Put ATFO Donation in the subject line.