Finalist for 100-day trainer challenge

The Prodigious Fund trainer selection committee has announced finalists for the second annual 100-Day Trainer Challenge, in which four former Thoroughbred racehorses will be retrained to perform equestrian events at a special show this fall.

Shelby Ahrens, Katie Peery, Paige Wagter and the team of Letty Moreno and Sarah Dupree compose the entrants for the 2014 edition of the 100-Day Trainer Challenge.

The three individuals and one team have each been assigned a Thoroughbred to retrain for vocations such as dressage and jumping.

The 100-Day Trainer Challenge culminates October 4 at the Thoroughbred and Half-Thoroughbred Horse Show at Donida Farm in Auburn, with an end goal of placing the retrained horses into permanent homes via private sale.

“We again are very pleased with the response from the equestrian community,” said event coordinator Sophia McKee. “We achieved our goal and have a good cross-section of training talent.”

Trainers were assigned horses from a pool of former Emerald Downs’ runners donated by Emerald Downs’ owners and trainers.

Meika Decher of Polestar Farm competed in the inaugural event, and found it to be so worthwhile and engrossing that she encouraged students Moreno and Dupree to become involved this year.

“They are so excited to get started,” Deicher said. “And the Thoroughbreds excel quickly, they’ve had a lot of handling at the track. They really enjoy having something to do.”

At the Thoroughbred and Half-Thoroughbred Horse Show, judges’ score in three categories will decide the winner: In-Hand, Flat Class, Freestyle Class.

Trainers, in alphabetical order, chosen to compete in the 2014 100-Day Trainer Challenge:

Shelby Ahrens, Shelton, WA*Multi-Discipline
Shelby Ahrens specializes in Spanish horses, but has trained many breeds of horses from draft to pony. He is currently developing horses to show in dressage, western pleasure, working cow horse and driving. Ahrens trains out of South Side Stables in Shelton (Ahrens A majority of his horses in training are colts being started under saddle, but he also works on refining and finishing horses for many disciplines. HORSE: Curried Matt, a 3-year-old dark bay or brown gelding by Matty G-Curried Casey (Wash), owned by MaryAnn O’Connell and Shannon Larson, and bred by Clemans View Farm. Lifetime record: 1-M-0-0-$125

Katie Peery, Ridgefield, WA*Three-Day Eventing/Thoroughbred Trainer
The 29-year-old Peery has competed through the Preliminary Level in Dressage, and she also trains Thoroughbreds that compete at Emerald Downs. Peery has won top placings at recognized events throughout the Northwest, and she was a clinician and speaker at this year’s Washington State Horse Expo. Along with husband Kenny, she owns and operates Hidden Fox Farm ( in southwest Washington. HORSE: Hot N Sauci, a 5-year-old bay mare by He’s Tops-Millfleur (Wash), owned & bred by Oak Crest Farm.  Lifetime record: 8-1-1-0-$7,474

Paige Wagter, Blaine, WA*Hunter/Jumper
Originally from Illinois, Paige Wagter spent most of her show years in the Midwest and
East Coast and has been riding and competing for over 20 years. She is a pre-Veterinary graduate from Kansas State University, where she rode Varsity on the equestrian team.
Owner of Wagter Equestrian ( in Blaine, she has produced, trained, and shown hunters and jumpers in the top "A" level throughout the United States. HORSE: King of the Sky, a 6-year-old bay gelding by Flying With Eagles-Omnia Vincit Amor (Wash), owned & bred by Karl Krieg. Lifetime record: 28-5-3-5-$70,013

Sarah Dupree & Letty Moreno, Lake Stevens, WA*Three-Day Eventing
Dupree, an 18-year-old native of Seattle, and Moreno, a 19-year-old native of Tri-Cities, are students at Meika Decher’s Polestar Farm ( in Lake Stevens. According to Decher, the 100-Day Trainer Challenge is part of an intense apprenticeship for Dupree and Moreno, who have been assigned the only unraced horse among the Thoroughbreds in this year’s Challenge. HORSE: Mats Mats Boy, a 6-year-old bay gelding by Matty-Lady Niagara (Wash), owned & bred by Just A Dream Farm & Julie Scofield. Unraced

The Prodigious Fund is an organization dedicated to recognizing and supporting positive efforts made within the Thoroughbred aftercare community for the re-homing, promotion and care of retired racehorses.

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