Trainer Tames Rescued Mustang in 100 Days
Wed, Oct 28
By Lee GordonTrainer Tames Rescued Mustang in 100 Days: Boots Burro, a mustang who -- with his quirky visits -- charmed a southern Tennessee town, took top honors last week at the annual Extreme Mustang Makeover, a competition showcasing the wild horses of the American West.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A feisty mustang named "Boots Burro" took top honors last week in the "Extreme Mustang Makeover," capping off a three-month-long event where nearly 100 trainers trained mustangs captured in the mountains of Nevada.
"Boots Burro," who didn't even have a name prior to the competition, came a long way from the Bureau of Land Management holding facility for some 30,000 wild horses awaiting adoption through the Mustang Heritage Foundation.
The 4-year-old sorrel gelding even surprised his trainer, Gary Stanfill, when the pair won $15,000 in the EMM "Legends' division on the second day of the Oct. 23rd and Oct. 24th event held in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
'Boots' Kicks Favorite O'Henry Out of the Running
Boots Burro's upset over the competition's favorite to win, O'Henry. Trainer Marsha Hartford trained O'Henry seven days a week to get him ready. Part of his training, as well as other horses in the EMM, ensured each horse could be safely around children.
"He is a very smart horse. He's a very affectionate horse," Hartford said of O'Henry, who came in fifth in the Freestyle Finals. "He's a very athletic horse that uses his body well and will do very well in a number of jogs."
Extreme Mustang Makeover is an annual show of endurance, strength and patience. Competitors are judged on grooming, ground testing on an enhanced course and riding.
O'Henry, like all horses in the competition, went through a series of groundwork exercises to learn voice commands, as well as a program to become tolerant of elements he would encounter in his life, Hartford said.
In the riding component of the competition, the horses are judged at a walk, trot and canter. They're also judged in how they navigate over a series of obstacles found in everyday riding, such as bridges, poles, and gates.
The top 10 finishers in the competition perform in a four-minute freestyle show. Last year, Hartford and her horse finished fifth.
After the show, the horses are auctioned off to the highest bidder for riding or as a family pet. Money raised in the auction goes to the Mustang Heritage Foundation, whose goal is to increase the adoption of mustangs.
As for Boots Burro, the future looks bright. The horse became a fan favorite even before the competition for his trip to the mayor's office and the lobby of a local bank. Trainer Stanfill plans to donate the $5,000 he earned from the $15,000 win to a local hippotherapy program.
For more details, see ExtremeMustangMakeover.com Web site.
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