What is The Heart of the Horse?

Posted by Heel-O-Matic on May 3rd 2023

What is The Heart of the Horse?

The Safe Horse Project is a non-profit project that is looking to grow horse ownership and provide secure futures for unwanted horses. One way they do this is by sponsoring training programs such as the Heart of the Horse Trainers Challenge. This challenge works to change unwanted horses into loved companions and send them to good homes. For this challenge, 30 professional, amateur, and youth trainers compete with one another to showcase their skills by adopting one of the horses from the program and training them within 120 days. Each horse competes in different categories such as health and ground manners, horsemanship, and a freestyle category of the trainer’s choice. At the end of the challenge, horses are judged based on their skills and behavior, and the top three will be given a cash prize. Horses will then be auctioned off to pre-approved bidders to ensure their forever home.

Heel-O-Matic supports Madison Brown and her efforts with her horse, Scooter, by providing her with the tools and confidence to accomplish her goals. With her training abilities and access to the ground-driven Heel-O-Matic, she has been able to desensitize Scooter to moving objects and ATVs. Once he became more comfortable with the concept of pulling the sled, it led to throwing a rope off him and allowed him to look past things that he would not have normally done in the past. Our team is looking to help Madison find a good home for Scooter as she has been working extensively to grow his abilities using our products.

Madison is a 22-year-old from Cookeville, Tennessee, with a diverse background in the equine industry. From showing hunter-jumper horses to rodeoing and queening, she has seen many different sides to the industry, however, training is where her passion lies. She credits her uncle, Bub Stockton, as her biggest role model and for all her knowledge of training a horse. Madison originally saw the Heart of the Horse Trainers Challenge posted on Facebook and thought it would be a good way to showcase her talents. Her goals for the challenge include getting her name out there in the training business, winning the freestyle event, and sending Scooter to a good home. Madison is very thankful to her parents for allowing her to have versatility in the equine industry which has allowed her to compete in many different disciplines. This has helped her succeed as a trainer because it has allowed her to ride a variety of different breeds that work differently and compete in multiple events that each require different skills.

Scooter is the gray 8-year-old gelding that Madison decided to take a chance on. His original owner forfeited possession once he continued to escape the property and was breeding other mares. The Safe Horse Project adopted him into their program and decided to place him in the Heart of the Horse Challenge. Before the challenge ever began, they nicknamed him ‘Outlaw’ since no one wanted to be around him or get in his stall. Out of all the other horses, Scooter was ranked first in worst behavior which inspired Madison to pick him in order to prove her training abilities.

Each horse will perform various activities throughout the challenge including, walking, trotting, and cantering in both directions in the round pen, pivoting on both ends, picking up all four feet, staying tied up, etc. They will then move to the riding portion using obstacles such as poles, tarps, and crossing water to showcase their horsemanship abilities. Lastly, they will compete in the freestyle event chosen specifically by each trainer. Due to his size, Madison chose breakaway roping as she saw it would fit him well with hopes that Scooter can go on to help kids advance in their roping.

Madison’s methods of working with Scooter have included creating a trusting relationship with him, a lot of groundwork to make him comfortable before getting on his back, and spending a lot of time with him each day as needed. The most rewarding aspect of training for Madison is when a horse understands what you are asking of them and takes something that was once considered “wild” and makes them into something anything can handle.