I have a new mustang adventure to share with you. Some of you have read past articles on my experiences with mustangs, like the one about my special mustang Stellar, the horse who chose me. I’ve also mentioned JoDee, another nice mustang of ours which we sold this past Christmas to a young girl who still rides with us. This latest mustang story is my husband’s, Matt Livengood.
In case you aren’t completely familiar with mustangs, let me give you some background: In 1971, the United States Congress, under the Nixon administration, recognized that “Wild, free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneering spirit of the West which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.” Passage of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act followed, protecting the wild horses and burros that live on public range-land in 10 Western States. This act charged the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with managing them.
Currently we have more mustangs than our range-lands can support, so public agencies, as well as private organizations and individuals, are working to get mustangs into good homes.
The Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF) is one of these organizations, and one way they get nice mustangs into good homes is through events they sponsor called: Extreme Mustang Makeovers.
Finalists at the 2015 Extreme Mustang Makeover in Nampa, Idaho
EMMs (as they are fondly referred to by mustang aficionados) are spin-offs of reality TV programs where contestants are given a narrow window of time to do something remarkable, such as renovate a home, find their way off an island, etc. In the case of EMMs, contestants are given 100 days to tame a wild mustang—and then compete with it in a horse show.
If you’ve not yet witnessed one of these events, they are captivating and wildly amazing; the 2011 movie Wild Horse, Wild Ride documents the process, following the lives of several contestants through an EMM event.
This year there will be many EMMs throughout the country which I encourage you to attend and immerse yourself in. For those in the Pacific Northwest, there will be one in Monroe, WA on August 17-19, and a TIP EMM in Nampa, ID June 30-July 1. Check out the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s website for more information on EMM events.
Back to my husband, Matt, who is competing this year at the Reno EMM, June 23–24. In early March, Matt got his mustang via a random drawing. He was picked up in Reno by a friend and hauled home for us. Upon viewing a photo texted to us, I looked at the profile of his beautiful face and soft eye and thought: “Okay my friend, this will be your time to shine.” Hence the name Tyme to Shine (with a nod to the reining and cow-horse industries that we are most familiar with.)
Week one with Tyme to Shine
Matt’s Mustang came from the Owyhee Horse Management Area (HMA) in North Central Nevada. He was captured in November of 2016 as a 4-year old stallion and was vaccinated, de-wormed, and branded. In February 2017, he was put into the pool for Reno EMM trainers to draw from and was gelded. A few weeks later, my Matt was lucky enough to draw this horse’s number. He has been kind and willing—although understandably reactive and scared. (I might mention that our equine dentist thinks he’s a year younger than the BLM paperwork.)
Since March, Matt has been diligently working with his mustang, finding him good-natured and even-tempered, although still high energy. He’s quite athletic and may be suited as future mustang reiner or cow-horse as he is quick and can get over his hocks. He also looks like he has some jumping potential, at least over starter fences, as he really has taken to that activity at our place.
The Reno EMM event will consist of three to four rounds of competitions over two days. Conditioning and Handling covers basic body condition and grooming, as well as leading exercises. Next is an Individual Pattern class which will be similar to either a ranch riding or reining pattern. The third class, usually at the start of day two, is the Trail Class, likely to include backing through poles, side passing, opening gates or mail boxes, and crossing bridges. From there, the 10 highest scoring contestants move on to the final round, which is the Freestyle—an individually choreographed routine to music, usually with costumes.
Mustangs make great mounts; nature has outfitted mustangs with good bone, strong feet, and a resilient character. The intense schedule of training for an EMM event brings out the willing team player in most of them. To me, mustangs tend to be the Border Collies of the horse world with their strong work ethic, enjoying challenges.
Week six through ten with Tyme to Shine
Tyme to Shine’s name lends itself to some good tunes, so if he and Matt make it all the way to the final round of competition, we will have some good music for spectators to enjoy!
At the end of the EMM event, all Mustangs are offered for adoption and are auctioned to the highest bidder. The money raised supports the Mustang Heritage Foundation—although there is prize money awarded to the top competitors as well.
Please join us on my Alayne Blickle Facebook site and follow Tyme to Shine as he travels to Reno next week to begin the next phase of his lifetime adventure.
Good luck Tyme to Shine and Matt Livengood!