Monday, March 12, 2012

Utah Horse Trainers Challenge at the Utah Horse Expo

Every year about this time, Utah’s best horse trainers have just finished taking part in the Utah Horse Council Trainers Challenge.

This event pits four of the state’s top trainers, selected from an initial pool of applicants who are then whittled down to 10 semi-finalists, against each other to determine whose previously unbroken horse has shown the most development in 60 days. The winner is determined by a combined score of popular vote and judges’ decision. This year’s event culminated at the Utah Horse Expo, this past weekend in South Jordan, Utah.

In the fall before the trainers are selected, unbroken horses are bought and turned out to winter pasture. Come mid-January, the top four trainers draw for their horses and have 60 days to train them to compete in front of the judges and attendees at the Utah Horse Expo.

My job is to put together a proper feeding program that will ensure adequate nutrition for the animals’ growth and development, not to mention the hard work that they will be put through over the 60 days. I am always amazed at the skill and dedication these trainers put forth into this competition!

My favorite success story from last year was Zoey. Though she didn’t win the final competition, trainer Debbie Doneyson displayed remarkable progress during her 60 days with Zoey. Having arrived at Debbie’s farm underweight, Zoey showed dramatic change in her demeanor and body condition by the final competition.

Zoey’s diet needed to be carefully managed to meet her nutritional needs for growth and energy during the 60-day training program. I started Zoey off on free choice grass hay, Purina® Ultium® Growth horse feed and WellSolve® Well-Gel®. Debbie initiated a lot of the groundwork in the first month and when Zoey started putting on weight, we slowly added alfalfa to her diet and increased her workload. The high fat, high fiber diet really helped her put on muscle and improve her body condition so Debbie was able to progress to more advanced training techniques.

As you can see from these before and after photos, Zoey showed a great turnaround with Debbie’s careful training and a diet of Purina® Ultium® Growth horse feed and WellSolve® Well-Gel®. In fact, Debbie did such a great job with Zoey that a Purina employee fell in love with her during the show and purchased her for his farm in Idaho!



I saw a lot of great progress on this year’s horses and it was exciting to see all of the hard work pay off. Did you make it to the Utah Horse Expo? What did you think about the Trainers Challenge?

About the Author: Yvette Connely is an animal nutrition specialist with Land O’ Lakes Purina Feed, where she oversees dealer account responsibilities and is an equine specialist for the state of Utah. Yvette has worked with Purina for 13 years, previously working as an equine nutrition specialist in Arizona. She has a B.S. degree in equine science from Colorado State University.

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