Trainers show horse sense leading up to Meeker Mustang Makeover
MEEKER — In September, six Colorado-born mustangs will compete to win big prize money at the first-ever Meeker Mustang Makeover, their Colorado horse trainers are busy exposing their horses to the wide world.
Meeker local Joe Wood’s small mustang — named Flintstone by his two young girls — has become one of the girls’ favorite horses to ride, accompanying them to numerous rodeos and gymkhanas.
Grand Junction trainer and farrier Cody Rhyne is taking his horse, Sky, up and down steep hills in Mesa County doing cow work.
“Their trust is bigger, and they have the ability to go a lot farther than a non-wild horse, helpful when there are miles to ride,” Rhyne said.
Meanwhile, Wade Allred is using his horse, Skeeter, across the rough and steep terrain of Rangely.
Exposure to people, noise, and new experiences has been the mainstay for the six horses selected by the BLM for the event. Trainers report that the mustangs may take longer to earn trust from, but when given, it is a deeper trust than a traditional horse. The trainer/owner becomes part of their “herd,” and one trainer reported her horse would stay by the gate waiting for her to come back rather than running off with the other horses in the field.
Sarah Giese, from the Denver area, has named her horse Wyatt, after Wyatt Earp. Only two years old, the already large, handsome, dark roan will likely keep growing and is now crosses bridges and performs some tricks. Geis said Wyatt is very sure-footed on the trail, and willing and ready to try new things.
Paige Burnham, a young trainer from the Grand Junction area, reports her horse, Nitis, “is doing awesome.”
“He waits for me at the front of his pen. He is the best bower … of any horse I’ve trained and is responding well to my clicker training and positive reinforcement,” she said.
Burnham also trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD and children with special needs in the Wings and Warriors program.
Meeker outfitter and horse trainer Shawn Welder said his mustang, Douglas, is doing great.
“Straddling logs, crossing streams are no problem,” Shawn said.
While Douglas may be small in stature, Welder shares that his horse is big in try, and has connected well with his trainers.
The event will pit six trainers against each other, each with a hair-raising 100 days to start and train a wild mustang.
Alongside Meeker’s sheepdog trials, trainers will have a unique opportunity to show what they can do on Friday, Sept. 6 at the Rio Blanco County/Meeker Fairgrounds.
Following the competition, horses will be auctioned off to the crowd at the conclusion of the event. Trainers will be eligible for $4,000 in prize money and will receive 50% of the proceeds of their horse’s sale.
The organizing group for the MMM is already taking trainer names for next year, as they expect the event to expand and include more events, such as a mustang horse show and clinic.
The program is designed to help ready mustangs for adoption and use, while educating the public about the mustang population in Northwest Colorado, and the Piceance-East Douglas HMA herds. Horses are all 2 and 3 years old, a prime age for training.
Interested trainers for the 2020 Makeover should contact Billy Goedert at 970-629-5848 or Billygoedert@gmail.com.
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