Wild horse festival starts Friday

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Paying tribute to two late Craig residents' love for wild mustangs incited a similar passion in Patti Mosbey, which she's working to share with others.

Mosbey is one of the organizers of an event geared toward dispelling preconceived notions about how wild horses look, act and behave.

When two Craig natives, Tracey and Kelly Zimmerman, were killed in a March 2000 car accident, Mosbey tried to fill the void in Tracey's grandson's life by giving him the opportunity to continue to be with horses.

Horses were a big part of his life with his mother and grandmother, but Mosbey hadn't had a horse since she was a child.

Mosbey bought Tracey's two horses, both of which had been wild mustangs. That led to Mosbey's adoption of six more wild horses through a Bureau of Land Management program and to the start of the Tracey Zimmerman Memorial Wild Horse and Burro Show.

Though the festival's name has changed to the Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Festival, there will be always be a memorial to Tracey, Mosbey said.

Over the course of three days, several events will be held at the Moffat County Fairgrounds to demonstrate the capabilities of wild mustangs.

The mustangs are rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management and made available for adoption. More than 40,000 mustangs are available. The round-ups occur when more horses roam than their range can support.

Mosbey said people often don't adopt the wild horses because they think that they can't be trained.

Steve Mantle will do a live demonstration with unhandled horses, from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday.

"People will get to see a wild horse up close and personal and watch (Mantle) work with it," Mosbey said. "This shows they can be gentle."

Starting at 6 p.m. there will be a freestyle riding performance, where riders perform with the mustangs, and do tricks such as riding while standing up or doing somersaults from their backs.

"People will be able to see the versatility of these horses," Mosbey said.

There also will be a demonstration of dressage riding.

"Most people say 'mustangs do dressage? No way,'" Mosbey said.

A horse show featuring more than 40 classes of events begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Thirty to 50 riders from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Washington and Idaho are expected to compete.

Riders accrue points that will be tallied in a Wyoming horse show held in July.

"What makes it so interesting this year is that it's a tri-state event," Mosbey said. "Wild horse shows are really growing."

Riders will compete in three horse shows, one in Utah, one here and the last in Wyoming.

The shows only allow "freeze-branded" horses -- those that have been rounded up, branded and made available for adoption from the BLM.

"Our goal is the adoption of these horses, not the breeding of them," Mosbey said. "We really want to accent the adoption. That's what we're doing."

Residents will have the chance to adopt one of the 10 to 15 horses at 9 a.m. Sunday.

The adoption will take place through a silent auction with bids starting at $125, the base price for adoption if done directly through the BLM.

People can prepare in advance by filling out an adoption application on the BLM's Web site, www.blm.gov.

"We're primarily interested in their facility -- the shelter, type of fence, etc.," said Fran Ackley, BLM wild horse and burro specialist.

The horses are vaccinated, dewormed and branded. The adoption fee for a "raw" horse is $125. People can contract with the Department of Corrections to get a halter-trained horse for an additional $175 for a gelding and $275 for a mare. The BLM pays $8,000 over a horse's lifetime to keep animals that aren't adopted.

This is the third year the wild horse show has been held in Craig. Last year, a special award added a touch of sentiment to the ceremonies.

Jennifer Brockman, 14, had formed an attachment with one of Mosbey's wild horses and begged her not to sell it. She showed the horse during competition and was asked to remain in the ring after her performance.

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