August 18, 2011 at 9:35 a.m.

Sunborn trainer takes on four-legged challenge with Hooved Animal Rescue

Sunborn trainer takes on four-legged challenge with Hooved Animal Rescue
Sunborn trainer takes on four-legged challenge with Hooved Animal Rescue

Three months of hard work for horse trainers who took part in the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Society's "Challenge of the Unwanted Horse," came to an end Aug. 13, at the University of Minnesota's Leatherdale Center indoor arena. Each trainer had volunteered their time, feed and their facility to turn a damaged, sometimes even dangerous horse, into a useful one and August 13 was showtime.

Horses available for this challenge were donated to the Rescue or ended up there after being taken from neglectful or abusive owners.

They came with a wide range of phobias, illnesses, mental and physical issues.

Trainers had some choice of which horse they got, but there were clearly some that had more potential than others, and the "good" horses found trainers first. Most trainers tried to get a horse that fit. For example, the Western trainers preferred a horse with a lot of quarter horse breeding, and English trainers were more likely to choose an Arab or Saddlebred.

Chisago City based Sunborn Stables got a small Arab-cross 3 ½ year old mare, "Cold Snap," nicknamed "Chilly." Trainer Julie Penshorn, said, "We figured we didn't stand much of a chance at the final event competition with our little mare because she just could not canter slowly, and you need that for the pleasure class. Plus, she was still a bit thin and that would hurt her in the halter class.

"The canter can take a long time for some horses to develop, and she wasn't strong enough to slow down and carry our weight. It takes development of the hind end of the horse."

The Rescue training event is designed to draw people looking for a horse and gives them a very good idea of just what the horse can do at this point in its life/training.

Potential adopters are screened so the horses don't end up back at the rescue or in some unsafe or unhealthy situations in the future.

With the help of many students and parents from Penshorn's barn outside of Chisago City, both during the training period and at the contest, Penshorn tried her best and put together a fourth place overall finish, with two first places (out of 5 divisions) a second place and a sixth.

Chilly and Penshorn succeeded in the Freestyle division. Chilly also was the winning horse in the "vet/farrier" part of the contest. That means she stood the best for having her feet and other body parts handled and blood drawn.

Penshorn said, "My crew was amazing! I had helpers from 10 years old to 60. We had a lot of equipment to move around the arena so our freestyle could show Chilly to her best advantage going over jumps. We did a combination of dressage and jumping. Apparently that worked for the judges.

"But I have to say, I was very impressed with what the other trainers did. Sid Zacharias, from Spooner, Wisconsin stood on his horse and cracked a whip while it remained motionless. Then he pulled the saddle off and had the horse lie down. The crowd loved it! I never thought we could beat that!"

Penshorn said, all the horses in training at Sunborn Stables, including Chilly, are exposed to a variety of challenges so they become trustworthy and versatile. Chilly, for example, rides Western, goes through water, pulls a cart, doesn't mind noisy trucks going by, and has had a rope spun on her.

She got a second place in the "Trail Class" where she was tested on her ability to do all sorts of things that can frighten a horse, like walk over a tarp and a bridge, and load in a trailer.

"I watched the guy in front of me in the trail class and he actually trotted his horse into the trailer. I thought, 'Can Chilly do that?' I knew she was a confident loader, but hadn't ever tried that. Well, we decided to go for it. We trotted right up to it and she just took one walk step and in she went. I was so proud of her!" said Penshorn.

During and following the contest, people were encouraged to bid in the silent auction on the horses. Several horses now have prospective adoptive families which will be screened by reps of the Hooved Animal Rescue organization.

Eight horses were adopted at the event. Chilly is one of the horses who has a loving family waiting for her.

This was the fourth year for the Challenge. It will run next August as well.

Overall Champion was Annie Schall and horse Ernie, and Reserve Champion was Sid Zacharias with Coe.

More information can be found at the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue website: www.mnhoovedanimalrescue.org


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