On Aug. 17, at the University of Minnesota Leatherdale Equine Center, a horse named “Dolores” (Spanish for “sorrows”) will compete in an event called “The 2013 Trainer’s Challenge of the Unwanted Horse.”
But happier words are needed, because this story has a happy ending.
Dolores was rescued in December 2012 by the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. She had a foal, and was being kept along with a stud horse by a neglectful owner. By the time she was rescued, the stud horse was dead and the foal so weak she could not stand.
Last April Maria Schaal of Forest Lake took Dolores in, and started training her in May. Dolores had received no previous training.
Maria knew the potential for success because her sister, Annie Schaal, won the 2011 Challenge by training another rescued horse.
On Aug. 2, just four months after they began working together, Maria showed Dolores at the Washington County Fair. They won sixth place in the English Pleasure class.
At the Trainer’s Challenge, held on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, Maria and Dolores will compete against 14 other trainers in five classes: halter, pleasure, trail/obstacle, freestyle demonstration, and veterinarian/farrier.
Before a panel of judges, the trainers will demonstrate how they’ve taken an untrained and inexperienced horse that no one wanted and created a willing companion.
After the competition, the horses will be offered at auction to pre-qualified adoptive buyers. For more information about the rescue organization, and to see Maria’s blog about her training progress, visit www.mnhoovedanimalrescue.org.