Me and mark have just come home from 3 weeks in America, we managed to do 4100 miles traveling through California, Nevada, Utah, a trip in to Arizona, before heading back in to Northern California, with a quick day trip in to Klamath Falls, Oregon.Phew! One of the first events we went to was the Heber City Cowboy gathering, which was music, poetry trade shows and the popular event Extreme Mustang Makeover, this is run by the Bureau of Land Management as a way of re-homing wild Mustangs.
100 trainers have 100 days to train 100 mustangs, to hopefully become trusting, safe riding horses. At the end of the 100 days there is a competition which the horses are judged on body condition (by vets) then there is an extreme trail class, bear in mind this is an indoor arena, a ""mountain had been built along with waterfall, with bridges to cross, there was a pen full of cattle which they had to 'cut' one cow from the herd and move it to the other end of the pen, there were cages full of roosters to pass as well as an outhouse, which the rider had to dismount go inside the outhouse, shut the door and leave the horse either held or ground tied for 10 seconds, they had compulsory moves and had to show walk, trot and lope on each rein. This certainly was an 'extreme' trail course but one which got me thinking. After the trail class the top 10 horses moved on to the freestyle class, where basically they could do what they liked, from cattle work to laying down and bridle-less riding(to a high standard!). After the competition ALL the horses were auctioned off to the public, the money goes back in to the extreme mustang makeover to put on more future events.
It got me thinking in more than one way, It was amazing to see what ordinary folks could do with what were truly wild horses, after a relatively short space of time and the second thing was why could other countries not do something similar with wild herds like for instance new forest ponies.
Instead of selling them at auction for ridiculously low fees, adopt them out and run a similar competition so they could fetch more money!
it was great to see that all the mustangs working in a calm manner however due to other circumstances not all the trainers were able to put 100 days solid on them, one horse had just 15 days work, apart from being worried he did manage to complete the course. Most of the horses had between 40 and 100 days on them, A bit of an eye opener really,as to what can be achieved, I would definitely have been proud to have owned one!
At the auction the horse prices were all over the place, top horse fetched $4600 and the bottom fetched $125, the point was people who bought them were going home with a horse that they could immediately go out on a trail ride with, and know they were going to be safe. It was also great to see that the trainers actually loved these horses, On the pens outside there were signs all over the place saying ""please do not buy this horse"" and that came true at the auction, some of the trainers could not let go of their mustang and bought the horse themselves. it was highly emotional.
A great event to start out trip! look out for more regarding our trip.