Down to the Wire: 9.16.14 – Extreme Mustang Makeover

Down to the Wire

Down to the Wire races to deliver the latest Equine and Equestrian news to Counter-Canter Culture

This month, Claudia is out riding the long trail home to Florida where she grew up.  Until she settles down in her new paddock, new columns from her are temporarily out to pasture.  In the meantime, enjoy these timely and timeless highlights from past stories.

This weekend, Extreme Mustang Makeover takes over the Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, TX.  Learn more about what will be going on in this arena and maybe even make a plan to make a mustang your own!

Extreme Mustang Makeover


The Mustang Heritage Foundation mission is to increase adoption of wild horses held in the Bureau of Land Management’s corrals and long term holding facilities. The BLM is currently responsible for more than 50,000 horses in short term and long term care.

The MHF works to promote the Mustang’s versatility, trainability, and worth as an equine companion through a dramatic challenge called the Extreme Mustang Makeover. Selected trainers across the country have 100 days to gentle, halter break and saddle train the Mustang before the competition, trainers must build trust and develop a relationship with the horse to ensure the best performance.

According to the MHF website:

“Horse and rider teams compete in preliminary classes that include evaluating the horse’s ability to maneuver through patterns and/or trail courses, highlighting the abilities of the Mustang. The Mustangs encounter obstacles similar to those expected during a ride on a nature trail.

After the preliminary classes are tallied, the highest placing horses are chosen to compete in the finals. Trainers have 4 minutes to present a freestyle performance to showcase their Mustangs’ abilities and talents. Audiences are amazed at the willingness of the Mustangs, who have only been worked with by a human for about 90 to 100 days. The Mustangs under the direction of their talented trainers often perform amazing feats such as being ridden without a bridle, standing steady as their rider stands atop the saddle, riding past noisy obstacles without flinching and other training accomplishments not seen in many horses after years of training. “

In a win-win situation, the trainers compete for a $10,000 purse while the participating Mustangs are made available for the public to own and auctioned for adoption by competitive bid. Over 5,000 American Mustangs have been adopted through the Mustang Heritage Foundation since 2007.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover is held a various events throughout the year at different locations around the country.  For a schedule check here.


For a personal perspective,  go to The Idaho Statesman for the story of trainer Matt Livengood and Bud a Nevado Mustang who are preparing for the July 25 – 26 Extreme Mustang Makeover in Nampa, Idaho.

“ ‘Livengood was randomly assigned Bud from a BLM corral in Boise and brought Bud to his ranch in Nampa.

‘I backed the horse trailer up, opened up the pen, opened up the back of the trailer and he came flying out and went to the far end of the pen,’ Livengood said. ‘He stayed as far away from me as he possibly could.’

Livengood said that working with Bud has been an ‘interesting journey.’ And though Bud may have strong survival instincts, he also possesses another quality.

‘He is very curious,’ Livengood said. It took a month to be able to get close enough to touch Bud, Livengood said, ‘but since then Bud’s learning curve has soared.’ ”
Read more here.


Here is a video of the final freestyle event at the Fort Worth Extreme Makeover held earlier this year. It is remarkable what some of the horses, only 100 days removed from the wild, can accomplish.

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