Extreme Mustang Makeover – East Coast Edition

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”.


7 thoughts on “Extreme Mustang Makeover – East Coast Edition

  1. It sounds interesting. Of course, it’s hard to get the proper training on a horse in 90 days.

    I do think this is a great idea to show people that mustangs are trainable and it also helps the horses get adopted. Anything to get the out of those awful pens of the BLM would be a good move. It might be a good idea for them to offer to ship the horses East, then maybe more trainers would get involved. I feel for the horses in the “care” of the BLM.

  2. I was able to see one of these a few years ago. While it was really amazing some of the things the trainer/horse combo was doing in the finals, it was the trainer/ horse combo doing it. I had the opportunity to speak to a couple of the trainers, and also walk thru the barns watching people mill around and pick out which mustang they wanted to bid on and take home. What most of these people did not realize is that these are still mustangs, with little handling and experience. They have learned to trust one person, the trainer they were paired with. Many of the trainers were nervous about who would be getting the horses and what could happen. There were many non-horsey people, caught up in the show, bidding on these mustangs. I know one trainer that made it into the finals that ‘bought’ his mustang, not because he really wanted to keep it, but because the people showing interest would undoubtedly end up hurt or worse. While it is a great idea, I’m uncomfortable with sending a mustang with 90-100 days of training on it to anyone that does not have experience handling young green horses, much less, older green mustangs.

  3. Hi, I have been following your blog for a while and have been in aww of the horsey region you have out there. I am from Nevada on of the Mustang capitals and know these horses well. We have what is call the Wild Mustang and Burro Expo every August. These mustangs and burros are wild and the same thing is done, but they are trained by prisoners under a great trainer and they horses are AMAZING. Yes you are right the little mustang is a work horse,. All in a little package. While I love to see you ride and hear about all the shows you get to go to, (we dont have nearly as many show options as you have) I do love my western and the mustangs.

  4. I would love to work with a fresh caught mustang. Completely blank slate and untouched instincts to work with. No wonder they make fast progress in the right hands! I still haven’t been to the DREAM Center yet.

  5. I think not only due to distance, but also I think it is a challenge above most people’s abilities to do the EMM. I saw day 1 of some EMM finals at the Midwest Horse Fair a few years back. I was really impressed with the horses, I think I saw about 30 of them go. Some knew tricks, many people had their horses take a big bow at the end, they did trail obstacles or whatever else. It was really impressive to watch. I know I couldn’t do it.

    And you’re right about the 90 days training thing…..
    This is one reason why I find it hard to decide how many workouts a horse has to have before it’s not considered green anymore.

    With my QH, he has 105 drives as of today. I trained him myself last summer and got him his first drive in July…. So in about a year, he’s had about as many workouts driving as many ridden horses get in only 3 months!

    At 90/100 days, those Mustangs are definitely still considered green, but I’m having a hard time still calling my QH green to driving, considering he’s been to a haul-away show, a haul-away clinic, done many dozen arena drives and trail drives, and logged 106 miles on the roads around my area so far, and if all goes well (weather wise) this weekend, he will be hauling out to a park to go trail driving.

  6. You’d be amazed at the sheer variety of colors, sizes, and types that crop up in the mustang herds. You can find just about anything you’d want. I’m surprised that the EMM trainers had to go so far to get their horses. Some of the BLM facilities will ship horses as far as West Virginia. I’m not familiar with the distances from the different East Coast areas to WV, but it seems like it would be reasonable if shipment could be arranged. There are some intriguing prospects on there right now. Here’s a link if anyone’s interested, for giggles if nothing else. I’m especially fond of 9326 and 1253, personally.


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