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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 335


 Mustangs and trainers show their stuff at the Mustang Challenge

Twenty-nine trainers ... 29 mustangs ... 90 days to work together -- and finally it was time to show their stuff in competition. Last Saturday, a final group of 10 accomplished horse trainers thrilled a capacity crowd -- showing the capabilities of adopted BLM wild horses during the finals of the Western States Mustang Challenge, at the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento. The event at Cal Expo drew more than 2,000 spectators.

When the show was over, equine enthusiasts adopted 29 mustangs that had been trained for the Mustang Challenge competition organized by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, a BLM partner. Bidders offered a total of $70,400 for the privilege of adopting a trained mustang. The high bid was $10,000, offered for Handy Hank, trained and exhibited by Madelyn Wagner of Valley Center, Calif. (story continues below)

Below, Corrine Elser of Burns, Oregon, rides Dolly in the Horse Course preliminary event. She was the overall winner in the Challenge competition. Corrine, whose introduction to wild horses came through volunteer work at the Burns wild horse and burro corrals, was a crowd favorite and clearly impressed the judges.
Corrine Elser of Burns, Oregon, rides in the Horse Course preliminary event

Second-place finisher Joe Misner of Johnson Valley, Calif. acknowledges the crowd after his performance in the finals with his mustang, Laredo.
Second place finisher Joe Misner of Johnson Valley, Calif. acknowledges the crowd after his performance in the finals

BLM State Director Mike Pool presented the top prize to Elser, and told the crowd that since 1976, Californians had supported the preservation of wild horses and burros by adopting more than 25,000 animals.  He noted the "outstanding horsemanship" of the competitors, all of whom received their wild horses right off the public lands only 90 days ago.

BLM-California State Director Mike Pool holds ribbons to present to Mustang Challenge winners
BLM-California State Director Mike Pool holds ribbons to present to present to Mustang Challenge winners

The state director chats with trainer Matt Zimmerman of Adrian, Ore. prior to the contest. Matt rode High Rock Ally to a fifth place finish.
BLM-California State Director Mike Pool chats with trainer Matt Zimmerman before the contest

Spectators saw the serious and light-hearted sides of equine competition. Below, contestant Janet Titus of Mammoth Lakes gets a little help with her helmet prior to competing in the Horse Course preliminary event. She placed eighth in the finals.
Rider Janet Titus gets a last-minute helmet adjustment

A young spectator meets a two-legged "equine."
A young spectator meets a two-legged "equine."

Jenna Nelson was voted "best non-professional trainer" by her fellow competitors. Here, Jenna, with her mustang Domestic Aim, is interviewed by Rosemary Orozco, meteorologist/reporter with Fox 40 television in Sacramento ...
Rosemary Orozco, Fox 40 meteorologist/reporter with Fox 40 television in Sacramento, interviews competitor Jenna Nelson

... who then tries a ride herself, on competitor Destry Campbell's mustang, Favor:
TV reporter with microphone, astride a competitor's mustang

The 29 competitors from California, Nevada, Idaho, Washington and Oregon were selected from 80 applicants to compete in the event designed to showcase the outstanding qualities of mustangs. The trainers had 90 days to train the horses which came from northern Nevada herd management areas through the BLM's Litchfield Corrals near Susanville, California.

- J. Fontana, with additional photos by J. Dearing, D. Christy and J. Pickering


BLM-California News.bytes, issue 335


 
Last updated: 06-11-2008