BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 579

110 Wild Horses Adopted in Norco’s Extreme Mustang Makeover 
and Mustang Million Competitions
 
One hundred ten mustangs have new homes after adoptions this weekend at the Ingalls Equestrian Event Center in Norco, Horsetown USA. The wild horses from California and Nevada Herd Management Areas were adopted through the Extreme Mustang Makeover and Mustang Million competitions managed by The Mustang Heritage Foundation. The foundation assists the Bureau of Land Management in its Wild Horse & Burro Adoption Program. 

A sell-out crowd watched the Top 10 Finalists’ Compulsory Maneuvers and Freestyle Finals Performance.
A sell-out crowd watched the Top 10 Finalists’ Compulsory Maneuvers and Freestyle Finals Performance.

In February, 36 trainers picked up mustangs at the Ridgecrest Wild Horse & Burro Corrals. With approximately 90 days to gentle, halter break, and saddle train the mustangs for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, trainers had to quickly build the trust and relationship necessary to ensure the best competition performance.

Sward leads Merry out of the arena after impressing the judges.
Sward leads Merry out of the arena after impressing the judges.

On Friday and Saturday, those horses and their trainers competed in pattern class, outdoor trail challenge, handling and conditioning class, as well as the arena obstacle course. On Saturday night, the top ten competed in compulsory maneuvers and freestyle finals performance. Don Douglas and his horse, Mariposa, won top honors and the $6,500 prize. 

Steve Sward demonstrates with Merry that mustangs will let you handle their feet.  Sward has trained more than 800 colts of all different breeds and ages.  Sward and Merry placed third in this his fourth Extreme Mustang Makeover competition.
Steve Sward demonstrates with Merry that mustangs will let you handle their feet. Sward has trained more than 800 colts of all different breeds and ages. Sward and Merry placed third in this his fourth Extreme Mustang Makeover competition.

Douglas began working with horses at the age of 17, breaking colts for ranchers and neighbors in Montana. Now a Californian and a grandfather, Douglas’ training skills so impressed the spectators that his horse, Mariposa, brought in $7,000 as one of the 24 competing mustangs adopted after the competition.

Sandi Anderson and Abby relax before “walking” the obstacle course at Ingalls Equestrian Event Arena.
Sandi Anderson and Abby relax before “walking” the obstacle course at Ingalls Equestrian Event Arena.

For Sandi Anderson, a dedicated friend of mustangs for more than 20 years, this was her eighth Mustang Makeover competition. She has adopted seven of those she trained and currently has nine mustangs in her Lake Mathews stables. Training four-year-old mustang Abby proved to be one of her biggest challenges, however. “Abby proved to be tough. That’s why I’m walking her instead of saddling up,” explained Anderson before entering the obstacle course.

Thomas Lockhart and Wild Rose enter the last station in the obstacle course.  Lockhart has a rodeo history, including bull riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, and team roping.  A professional stunt man, Lockhart has appeared in a number of films.
Thomas Lockhart and Wild Rose enter the last station in the obstacle course. Lockhart has a rodeo history, including bull riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, and team roping. A professional stunt man, Lockhart has appeared in a number of films.

Thomas Lockhart, a former Hollywood stunt man from Compton, was a first-time competitor in the Mustang Makeover. “These horses are unique,” observed Lockhart. “I’ve never seen animals so good to train. They can appreciate and accept your love so much more than a (domestic) horse.” Lockhart said he had been brought up around horses since the age of 11 or 12. He first worked in an L.A.  riding stable in L.A., became a cowboy and started roping, participated in rodeo sports – and became a stunt man.

Brent Rollins backs Lady Hawk through the maze.  Placing seventh, Rollins says, “Every horse deserves a chance to be great, you just have to be willing to put in the effort.”
Brent Rollins backs Lady Hawk through the maze. Placing seventh, Rollins says, “Every horse deserves a chance to be great, you just have to be willing to put in the effort.”

For Brent Rollins who trains mustangs near Grants Pass, Oregon, this was his fifth Mustang Makeover competition. “I’ve enjoyed every one,” said an enthusiastic Rollins before conclusion of the judging. “I haven’t made the top 10 yet, but if it takes me 20 times to do it, I will.   All I have at home are mustangs. Mustangs are better – sure they don’t have a big ol’ fancy pedigree, but you can’t ride papers. (I say) if you haven’t done it before, go out and give it a try.” Rollins and his mustang, Lady Hawk, took seventh place.

 Adopters sometimes bid more than $2,000 for mustangs they hope to train for September’s Mustang Million competition in Ft. Worth.
Adopters sometimes bid more than $2,000 for mustangs they hope to train for September’s Mustang Million competition in Ft. Worth.

In the Mustang Million auction on Sunday, trainers and prospective owners bid on untrained mustangs – some fetching as much as $2,000. In September, many of these 86 new owners and trainers will compete in Ft. Worth for $1 million in prizes; first prize is $200,000 and a Dodge Ram. Whether or not they win in Ft. Worth, the adventure that began Sunday in Norco for 86 mustangs and their trainers will prove to be an unforgettable 100 days of bonding, hard work, and adventure.

 BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program Assistant CJ Wallace and her coworkers were thrilled, but exhausted, in processing 110 adoptions. BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program Assistant CJ Wallace and her coworkers were thrilled, but exhausted, in processing 110 adoptions.
BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program Assistant CJ Wallace and her coworkers were thrilled, but exhausted, in processing 110 adoptions.

-- David Briery, Public Affairs Specialist, California Desert District (May 2013)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 579 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.