So a few weeks back I got a text from the owner of Gen’s barn. Did I want to go watch the last day of the Extreme Mustang Makeover with her? I vaguely remember some blogs about that a few years back, so I told her I would go. While I do live in one of the horsey hot spots in the country, and have a few friends that ride western, I never really considered how HUGE the western contingent was in my area. When we got to the DREAM center (what a cute name for a show facility right?) we found that it was PACKED, there wasn’t even a place to park. Eventually we just gave up and parked on the grass and headed inside to the packed arena.
I have never been to the DREAM Center for a show (way too much highway driving for me) before but I was impressed with the several massive show rings and the two giant indoors. We headed to the larger of the two and found probably close to a thousand people crowded around on a steamy summer night getting ready to watch 10 horses do a free style to music to show off their skills after 99 days of training.
For those of you who have not heard of the Extreme Mustang Makeover it is a program where they take 100 wild mustangs from the BLM holding facilities (some have been in holding for years) and give them to 100 trainers for 100 days. The trainers have to do everything with them from teach them how to load on a trailer to ride them. It was a program that was started to help show that Mustangs are indeed trainable. At the end of that 100 days the trainers compete for a cash prize (and bragging rights) and the horses are auctioned off.
I have to admit that it was cool to watch these horses jump and have lead changes after so little time in training. When you hear that a horse has 90 days training you think of them as being so green, but these horses were willingly going into a crowded arena letting their trainers stand up on their backs. Since I only went on the last night I only saw the top 10 horse/trainer pairs and didn’t get to see the initial in had trail class (complete with trailer loading) or the initial riding phase. I did see lots of cool tricks, but also lots of gaps in the horses training, like running in to a lead change instead of rocking back, etc. Not that I can fault these trainers…they only had a 100 days!
What did disappointment was the lack of trainers on the east coast interested in doing Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge. They couldn’t even find 100 people that were interested in doing it so many of the trainers got two horses to work with. I found out later that the only place to pick up the mustangs is way out west…a 24 hour or more car drive IF you don’t stop. I have a feeling that is why they had a hard time getting trainers. It was cool to watch though and some of the horses were REALLY nice movers and built up-hill. I had not expected that from a Mustang.
I don’t know if they will do one on the east coast again since they had such a hard time finding trainers, but I hope they do. Next year I want to go and watch the in hand trail class and the first round of riding. The Freestyles were fun, but I don’t really need music and show boating, I want to see training! If you see one of these events is going on near you I highly recommend that you go. It is cool to watch and puts a whole new meaning to the phrase “60 days under saddle”.