(February 20 Press Release)
At 2pm on Saturday, February 25 at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo in Harrisburg, three professional trainers will appear with fresh off-the-track Thoroughbreds that they met for the first time in January at the Maryland Horse World Expo. It is called the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge, and the public attention it has already received is extraordinary.
After five weeks of training all of the horses have excelled in their new line of work and the trainers are eager to demonstrate their new skills. "We expect a fascinating demonstration of what a racehorse can learn in a short amount of time with good training," said Steuart Pittman, founder of the nonprofit Retired Racehorse Training Project (RRTP) and organizer of the Trainer Challenge.
The judges for the event are Olympian James Wofford, CANTER Mid-Atlantic Founder Allie Conrad, and Alex Brown, author of Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and his Legacy. The winner, however, will be determined primarily by the thousands of fans who have followed the process by video on the internet. Online voting for best trainer will commence on the RRTP web site Wednesday morning at 9am and continue through the live video stream of the performances next Saturday. Each judge will be given 100 additional votes to award to trainers as they see fit.
"The Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge has already accomplished what we hoped for," said Pittman. "The horses have shown just how talented and trainable the average Thoroughbred coming off the track really is. The trainers have set examples of outstanding riding and horsemanship for the rest of us to learn from. The equestrian public has shown that demand for this kind of education, and fascination with the Thoroughbred horse are huge."
As of today, the trainers' videos have been viewed 43,890 times. The new RRTP web site has had 79,257 page views. The RRTP Facebook Page has a total weekly reach of well over 20,000. The audience at the Pennsylvania Expo will be well over 1,000 and many thousands more will watch online. Few major equestrian competitions in North America can brag of numbers this high.
Kerry Blackmer of Adamstown, Maryland will appear with Four X The Trouble, owned by Robin Coblyn of Frederick, MD. "I would love to keep this horse," says Kerry. "He is very quiet and confident, but there is no question that he loves to work and has the talent to become an outstanding jumper."
Eric Dierks of Tryon, North Carolina will appear with Brazilian Wedding, owned by Pat Dale of Three Plain Bays Farm in Conowingo, MD. "This mare has the eye of a tiger," says Eric. "She won her last race with an extraordinary show of heart, and seems just as determined to be a winner in her new job."
Tiffany Catledge of Middleburg, Virgina will appear with both Solidify, owned by Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue of Chestertown, Maryland and High Level, owned by Jim Falk of Cornwell Farm in Great Falls, Virginia. "I was only supposed to have High Level, but he had an abscess for the first three weeks and we treated him here. They let me use the alternate horse, Solidify, and when High Level came sound it seemed best to leave the horses where they were already settled in. That's how I ended up with two of the nicest horses anybody could hope to train!"
All four horses are available for sale by their owners. The trainers are authorized to act as agents. It should be noted, however, that none of the trainers want to part with their horse.
The winning trainer will receive a commissioned 30' by 40' oil portrait of their favorite Thoroughbred ex-racehorse by Leland Neff. Neff has been described by critics as the best living equestrian artist alive today, and his work leaves no doubt that this could be so.
The Retired Racehorse Training Project web site at www.retiredracehorsetraining.org hosts a Free Classifieds of retired racehorses, a Trainer Directory, a Sources For Horses directory, and a Bloodline Brag where owners of Thoroughbreds enter their horses with pedigree, post-racing competition record, and characteristics. RRTP plans a second Trainer Challenge that will allow broader participation, an Apprenticeship Program, and a series of educational events and Thoroughbred marketplaces later in the year.
In addition to the Trainer Challenge, RRTP founder Steuart Pittman is conducting clinics on training ex-racehorses on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo. Visitors can visit the RRTP booth throughout the four days and meet the trainers and the horses.
Live stream video of the Trainer Challenge can be viewed at
at 2pm on February 25.