Mustangs Get a Makeover?

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Before the freestyle finals, they had a "dance contest" for the audience. Al assured me I was definitely one of the frontrunners. | Photo courtesy of Charlie Brooks

Before the freestyle finals, they had a "dance contest" for the audience. Al assured me I was definitely one of the frontrunners. | Photo courtesy of Charlie Brooks

This past weekend, I had the great opportunity to go to the Extreme Mustang Makeover event in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by American Mustangs. When I found out you could adopt one from the Bureau of Land Management, I immediately made it one of my long-term goals.

It was only last year that I heard about the Extreme Mustang Makeover program---an event put on by the Mustang Heritage Foundation---and, again, I was fascinated. When Juli and Jen asked if I wanted to go, I agreed immediately. When they mentioned that I would get to meet Al Dunning, I was ecstatic!

As the celebrity coach, Al was there to work with each horse and handler one-on-one to help them improve their reining and cow horse maneuvers.

When H&R photographer Charlie Brooks introduced me to Al, I extended my hand but was quickly enveloped in a big hug. From then on, it was only hugs and "kiddo" for me.

I spent all day Saturday being completely amazed by the Mustangs and their trainers. The way the program works, the trainers only have 90 days to get their mounts ready for the show.

The competition began Friday at noon with the Handling and Conditioning class and the Combined Leading/Riding class. This part of the competition is where the trainers show that their Mustangs can perform basic maneuvers such as being led, loading into a trailer, picking up their feet, etc.

Saturday afternoon, the excitement started with the Reining and Working Cow Horse classes. Horses that had been almost untouched just 90 days before showed great faith in their handlers, performing lope offs, rollbacks, and flying lead changes as if they had been doing them all their lives.

Tate Weber and "Boggle" were able to rope a cow during their freestyle exhibition. | Photo courtesy of Charlie Brooks

Tate Weber and "Boggle" were able to rope a cow during their freestyle exhibition. | Photo courtesy of Charlie Brooks

That evening, during the freestyle class the top 10 horses and handlers performed a routine where they showcased the athletic abilities of the Mustang and the trust the horse had in its trainer.

The eventual winner, Tate Weber, and his mount, "Boggle," performed a nice reining pattern, successfully worked and roped a cow, and Tate was able to shoot a pistol while riding the gelding---the whole crowd was impressed. You can see some of Tate's performance on YouTube.

Along with a couple of fired guns, one competitor rode bridleless; another crossed a small teeter-totter while his horse was blindfolded; one lady rode bareback; one trainer rode his gelding over a tarp---and their horses worked willingly each step of the way.

Seeing what these Mustangs could do in such a short time, only made my desire to own one that much stronger. While I'm not ready for a horse quite yet---let alone a Mustang---I now know where to adopt one, and I can't wait!

I decided it would be best for me to not attend the auction on Sunday because I wasn't sure I could resist the temptation to bid. There were a couple of horses in particular that wowed me with their spirit and personality, and I'll be sure to share them with you in some upcoming Love To Own sections!

Have you ever had the good fortune to see an Extreme Mustang Makeover event? What did you think?

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