This summer, the Extreme Mustang Makeover returns to the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento June 12th to 14th. In its second year, the Extreme Mustang Makeover will showcase 30 trainers who have each had just 90 days to gentle and train a mustang. The mustangs are judged on conditioning, groundwork, and on their ability to maneuver through a horse course with obstacles commonly found in trail and recreational riding. The top ten trainers and mustangs then compete in a special Saturday evening gala where they have four minutes to do a free-style performance for the Expo crowd and the judges. The judges for last year’s Makeover included the well-known clinicians John Lyons, Chris Cox, and Al Dunning. The trainer of the winning mustang receives $7,500 in prize money and the mustangs are auctioned off to raise funds for the Mustang Heritage Foundation. Last year they raised over $70,000 to support the Foundation and its programs. The Extreme Mustang Makeover is a smaller version of one that is held in Texas. The events were created by the Mustang Heritage Foundation in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The purpose of the event is to help bring recognition to the mustang and to show the public how trainable and versatile these horses are. Last year, the winning trainer of the Extreme Mustang Makeover at the Western States Horse Expo was Corrine Eisner of Burns, Oregon. Her horse, Dolly, sold for $5,500 at the auction. But unwilling to part with her horse, Corrine bought Dolly with her prize money. During the free-style performance Corrine demonstrated that she could sit backwards on her once-wild mustang. Eighth-place Janet Titus rode her newly-trained mustang, Chato, bareback and bridleless to show how cooperative her mustang was. Madelyn Wagner came in fourth. She dressed her mustang, Handy Hank, in strings of aluminum cans to demonstrate the evenness of his temperament and his willingness to comply with his riders commands even when he was distracted by noisy cans flapping around his heals. The 30 trainers for this year’s Makeover have been selected. The BLM picks the trainers based on certain requirements, including the trainer’s record and ability, the facility where the horse will be trained, and the ability to safely transport the horse. On March 13 and 14, the trainers traveled to a large BLM holding facility in California to pick up their mustangs. The horses were pre-selected for the trainers. One of the trainers who has been selected for this year’s Extreme Mustang Makeover is Steve Bauhr, of Bauhr Ranch Horsemanship. Over the next few months, we’ll be following along with Steve as he shares with us his experiences training his mustang for the Makeover. For more information about the Mustang Heritage, please visit www.mustangheritagefoundation.org. To learn more about the Western States Horse Expo visit www.horsexpo.com. -Kathleen McFarren, Editor
Steve Bauhr’s Story – by Steve Bauhr, Trainer
Last year, when we attended the Western States Horse Expo, we watched the Mustang Makeover. During the final competition on Saturday night, we just sat there, mouths wide open, watching the final ten trainers perform the free-style program. The work done on these horses was unbelievable. Some performed reining patterns, one ran a cow down the wall, and another was ridden without a bridle. After watching last year’s competition we know what we’re up against this year and how hard we’ll have to work to get prepared — not to mention there are some great trainers on this year’s list. We have worked with and started many mustangs in the past, but this will likely be a long 90 days. If the Lord’s willing and the Devil don’t object, we’ll get him rode and ready to go by the Expo. The Mustang Makeover is a good program for promoting mustang adoptions. Every year, it seems as though there is less money available to protect these horses, and the BLM has its hands full trying to manage the wild herds and find good homes for the ones brought in. We are happy that Ride! Magazine will be following our progress each month with our mustang and we would like to thank our sponsors, Sweet River Equine Veterinary and Scott Gulley Farrier Service for their support. Learn more about Steve Bauhr and his training program Bauhr Ranch Horsemanship at www.bauhrranch.com.