Down to the Wire: Brianna and Delaware

Brianna and Delaware head to West Virginia for the culmination of their time together at the Appalachian Trainer Face Off. Find out how their last weeks together have gone and how to watch the event.

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

This is the week. Brianna and Delaware head down to West Virginia to compete in the Appalachian Trainer Face Off. Although it may seem like a long time in coming to those of us who have been following their journey, surprisingly Delaware is only nearing her 100th day of training. By the amount of exposure and time in the saddle she’s been experiencing, you’d think she’s been doing this for years.

Recently, over the weekend of July 30, 2021 Delaware and Brianna made the trip to Elkins Creek Horse Camp for the ATFO Trainer Meet Up #2 — the 70 Day Mark. The two met up with other trainers and horses that will be competing in the competition.

Elkins Creek Horse Camp is located in Pedro, Ohio. This facility allows riders to take in the breathtaking views of the Appalachian Foothills. There are creek crossings, large rock formations and covered bridges — many different natural obstacles to expose the ATFO horses to. Brianna had no cell phone reception while there and was able to escape from reality and really focus on Delaware for the weekend.

Friday was arrival day for the ATFO trainers and their horses. This was a day to get settled in. Trainers had the option to ride out by themselves or with groups of their choosing. At seven o’clock in the evening supper was provided along with music and a campfire.

After dinner, Brianna and Delaware went riding with a group. The group stayed out a little too long and ended up coming back in the dark. Despite the lack of sunlight, all the horses calmly made their way back to camp.

Photo by Tinia Creamer

After the ride all the trainers assembled around the campfire. While gathered together, Brianna was able to exchange training experiences and tips with the other ATFO trainers. The time spent around the campfire over the weekend was beneficial to Brianna and gave her insight and new perspectives on different training techniques and horse encounters.

Photo Courtesy of Brianna Ivory

Saturday started the ATFO trail riding festivities. After breakfast there was a group trail ride that lasted approximately three to four hours. Trainers were told to pack their lunches for a stop near a creek. When the trainers returned to camp they participated in an obstacle course.

Photo by Tinia Creamer

The course consisted of ground poles, a bridge, a cowboy curtain, walk-through pool noodles and loading into a trailer. Delaware hesitated when walking through the pool noodles and loading on the trailer so Brianna set aside time later in the day to revisit those two obstacles.

Sunday after breakfast trainers were able to trail ride at their leisure or with a group and then packed and loaded up and made their journeys back home.

This trip, along with the many other events and outings, are preparing Brianna and Delaware for the ATFO competition.

Photo by Brianna Ivory

When this piece goes to press, Brianna likely will be packing up the trailer and loading up Delaware once again, but this time for Delaware’s big debut. In the days leading up to the event, Delaware’s training hasn’t ceased. She’s still out on the trails and going to shoots, getting seasoned and adding more skills to her repertoire.

Brianna says that she and Delaware are getting close to being ready for the competition. The part of the competition she’s most apprehensive about is the freestyle because she hasn’t been dedicating as much training time to that particular aspect of the competition. In the week leading up to the competition, that’s where her focus will be.

Regardless, Delaware is learning more each day and is sure to excel in her next home.

Delaware’s journey with Brianna wraps up this week. Brianna and Delaware head to West Virginia on Wednesday afternoon in order to begin competing on Thursday. If you want to follow their progress — and that of the other 2021 ATFO horses, the event will be live-streamed on the ATFO Facebook page.

Schedule of Events:

If you would like 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.