Local Woman to Take Part in Extreme Mustang Makeover

By: Lee Gordon Email
By: Lee Gordon Email

It takes hard work and dedication to train a horse. But it takes a real special person to take a wild stallion and turn it into an animal that kids can enjoy.

Marsha Hartford is more than just your average horse trainer. In fact, she's one of the best trainers in the country. And because of it, she was asked to take part in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a show where only the best of the best compete for tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.

"They select 100 trainers from all throughout the U.S. to participate in a show. They give each trainer a wild mustang, usually captured from out in Nevada. They give the trainer 100 days only to gentle the horse, tame it, get it under saddle and get it ready for the horse show in Tennessee at the end of October."

The horse is picked from a herd in Nevada and it's up to Hartford to make sure that after 100 days, the horse is ready to be adopted. It's not easy and very time consuming, but being invited is an honor and Hartford isn't going to Tennessee to watch someone else win.

"The horse I've been working with, he can lunge, walk, trot, cantor, voice commands, he can be altered and bridled and saddled."

Despite her years of experience, 100 days is not a lot of time to completely train a wild animal. And even the little things can become a big problem for the stallion.

"The first time he stepped on cement, he never seen it before. He looked at it, he put his toe on it, he kind of wiggled his foot a little bit and put it right back. It took several attempts to get him to even walk on the cement."

Once she arrives in Tennessee, Hartford will have to put her horse through three levels, one is a ground handling course, then the horse is scored on condition, and finally the riding course. But if anyone can bring home the title, it's Marsha Hartford. And with a little over four weeks before the competition, it's time to saddle up and buckle down.

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