5 locals have a unique chance to train wild mustangs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Five women from Routt County were recently chosen to pick up wild mustangs gathered by the Bureau of Land Management, and they will have 100 days to train them in a Mustang Makeover competition.
“The herd of feral horses has exploded,” said Deirdre Macnab, a private rancher in Rio Blanco County and chairman of the Meeker Makeover Board that helped launch the Mustang Makeover last year. “Herd size needs a certain level of control… or it devastates the land, the vegetation disappears and the animals starve.”
In the first year of the program, volunteers from the Meeker area received six horses gathered at Pieceance Creek and trained them in a competition. This year the competition has expanded to 15 coaches, including five women from Routt County.
16-year-old Brittney Iacovetto is one of three local teenagers who have been given yearlings for training. Macnab said the idea is to turn mustangs from “wild to gentle”.
If anyone can do it in 100 days, it’s young ranchers like Iacovetto whose family has been raising cattle and horses for generations.
“I keep him away from other horses for now until he becomes my pal,” said the confident young cowgirl as she slowly approached her wild horse on the Saddleback. Family ranch, outside of Steamboat Springs.
The Iacovetto cremello, or white-colored mustang, has a very different stature than the large domesticated horses that can be seen at Saddleback Ranch. The mustang is thin and small, almost too thin.
Iacovetto seduces him with hay nearby in the hope that he continues to get closer and closer. The young coaches of the competition, aged 10 to 18, all have yearlings. At the end of the 100 days, the young trainers must lead their horses halter and rope through an obstacle course and a creative freestyle show.
Thousands of dollars are awarded in scholarships and prizes. The horses are auctioned off in good houses. Trainers receive half of the auction money. Macnab said if the trainers bought back their own horses, the BLM would also provide a stipend of $ 500 at the end of a full year.
Trainers also receive a stipend of $ 500 after working with their horses for the first 60 days.
Two of the five Routt County competitors are entered in the saddle portion of the Mustang Makeover. Their horses are all 3 years old and come from the Sandwash Basin and southern Wyoming.
Hayleigh Aurin, 22, will train her wild mustang to take a saddle and a rider, and her mustang will have to move cows. Although she has worked with mustangs before, they always came to see her with at least a little practice. Not this time.
“It was a unique challenge, more difficult than I thought,” said Aurin, whose family owns Elk River Equestrian outside of Steamboat.
“I got a hold of her, but she’s really shy,” Aurin said.
At the end of the 100-day training period, all 15 riders and riders from across Colorado will take their mustangs to the famous Meeker Sheepdog Trials on September 11 where they will show off their horses’ new skills to the equestrian judges.
And while Mustang Makeovers isn’t new to the country, Macnab said Meeker’s competitors have a single focus for their mustangs – to make sure wild horses are trained to work with other people, dogs and children as well. , using several aids.
“It gives the horses a chance to live happier lives,” Macnab said.
Other competitors from Routt County are Leah Allen, 16; Cossette McLaughlin, 19; and adult contestant Wendy Lind of Hayden.
Frances Hohl is a collaborator of Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be contacted via the editor.