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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 436

The Extreme Challenge

What have you learned in the last 90 days?  As a savvy Californian, your list is surely impressive, but certainly you’d be hard-pressed to accomplish what 28 mustangs and their trainers achieved recently at the Extreme Mustang Trail Challenge in Norco. (text continues below)

A woman rides a black horse on a sand trail among blooming yellow mustard flowers
Alyssa Radtke of Davis, Calif., and Neo Noir take to the Norco hills blooming with mustard.

In mid February, the north wind was still blowing cold in the Mojave Desert when trainers from Arizona to Oregon journeyed to Ridgecrest to take possession of their wild horses, some of which might have been aptly described as extraordinarily wild horses.  Three months later, at the end of a cool spring week in May, each of the trainers and their horses had two days to strut their stuff.  And strut they did.

On the first day, they took to the foothills surrounding Norco, showing their newly gained poise and discipline.  On the second day, with sirens blaring, dogs barking, and curious llamas observing through fences, the proud 28 pranced through the streets of Norco to and from a jungle-like crossing of the Santa Ana River.

Then on Saturday night before about two thousand fully engaged horse lovers, the top 10 contenders combined choreography, athleticism, and cow work.  Don Douglas of Paicines, Calif.  and his horse Smokey garnered a third place based on cow work – while taking jumps. 

Tom Shiloh of Pahrump, Nev. and Silent won second place as a result of their mesmerizing Spanish-riding techniques.

And first place of $2,500 was awarded Gary Wedemeyer of Winton, Calif. and The Deacon for quietly pulling a barrel into the arena, working effortlessly through figure eights, and then taking on a feisty steer down the fence line to the roar of the fans. (continued below)

A man in a red hat and tan cowboy hat rides a brown horse in an outdoor arena
First place winners Gary Wedemeyer of Winton, Calif., and The Deacon take their last ride together before the adoption.

On Sunday, all 28 horses were adopted for amounts ranging up to $3,500.  The toughest part of the day – 23 trainers saying goodbye to the horses with whom they had built strong bonds of trust and understanding.  Five trainers couldn’t say goodbye; they outbid others to adopt their own horses.  Sandi Anderson of Perris, Calif., well-known for her skills, generosity, and kind-heartedness, paid $3,000 to keep her own High Rock Sully.  There was nary a dry eye in the stands.

A woman sits astride a horse in an indoor arena
Sandi Anderson, Perris, Calif., and High Rock Sully standing tall.

A woman rides a brown horse on a sandy trail lined with bushes
Julie Thompson of St. George, Utah and Jasper  traverse the riparian habitat of the Santa Ana River.

A woman rides her horse among many stalls
A contender makes her way through the stalls at the George Ingalls Equestrian Park in Norco.

- David Briery, BLM California Desert District, 6/11/10

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 436

Last updated: 06-18-2010