Mustang Makeover

From wild to mild at Extreme Mustang Makeover 2015

Cayla and calypso the mustang 7 (800x600)
Calypso the Mustang, age five, with Cayla Stone, Samba the Mustang, age two, with Madison Olver.

LOVELAND, Colorado - I followed a couple of friends, Cayla Stone and Madison Olver, also a student of Cayla's, into Day 1 of the Extreme Mustang Makeover today and was amazed at how gentle many of these mustangs are. They have been in training 100 days or less and can do things seasoned show horses would think twice about, especially the part about loading into a strange trailer surrounded by strange humans. All of the exhibitors who work so hard to help save these wild horses deserve applause. Thousands of dollars in prize money is at stake and the mustangs not kept by their foster humans will be auctioned at the end of the event.

There are also non-competing mustangs and burros available for adoption in pens outside the arena, priced at $125 each. The Extreme Mustang Makeover concludes tomorrow, May 30, starting at 10 a.m. at The Ranch and is part of the Rock'n Western Rendezvous. Tickets start at $15 for adults, $10 for children (2 - 12). Calypso, standing at about 13.2 hands, boards at our place and has already debuted in eventing at the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area. She loves to jump. Samba, about the size of a hackney pony, would make a beautiful children's eventer. 

Madison and Samba the mustang(800x600)
Madison prepares to take Samba the Mustang through her paces in the youth fitting and handling class. The youth horses are all youngsters themselves and not shown under saddle. Samba is two years old.

Cayla and Calypso the Mustang
Cayla and Calypso the Mustang on the rail, Day 1 of the Extreme Mustang Makeover.

Cayla and Calypso the Mustang at Spring Gulch.
Cayla Stone and Calypso the Mustang debuted as eventers earlier this spring at the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area.


Cayla and Calypso the Mustang at Spring Gulch.
Cayla Stone and Calypso the Mustang in another shot from their eventing debut at the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area.

Mustang Makeover: Acrobatics anyone?

FORT COLLINS, Colorado - Argo the ex-wild mustang, and Cayla, his foster mom, continue to astound us. The other day, when I happened to be in the arena at our stable, they tried something new!

As a sidenote, watch the earlier Argo videos, and note how much he has filled out in such a short time. Somewhere back in Argo's heritage, beautiful ancestors contributed to some very special looks.

Cayla Stone temporarily adopted Argo from a herd of wild horses in order to train him for the Extreme Mustange Makeover competition, June 8 - 10, at Colorado State University. You can see Cayla and Argo compete at the event, where Argo will also be available to a good home via the Extreme Mustang Makeover auction.

Learn more about Argo and see his other videos by clicking on our Mustang Makeover section.

Be sure to visit Argo's Facebook page: My Extreme Mustang Makeover!

(Note: Cayla is a trained gymnast. Do not try this at home.)

Read also: Cash the Mustang gets Extreme Makeover

Mustang Makeover: Argo goes on a neck string!

Hard to believe, but true! In just a few weeks of training, Cayla and Argo, a wild mustang she temporarily adopted for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, now work using nothing more than a neck string! Smart, smart horse!

Cayla continues to work Argo in traditional tack, as his best opportunity will be his ability to do something people can use - say for instance, be a child's three-day-eventing horse.

Read more about Cayla, Argo, and the Extreme Mustang Makeover program in The Fence Post.

Follow Argo and see more of his videos in our Mustang Makeover column.

Be sure to visit Argo's Facebook page: My Extreme Mustang Makeover!

Mustang Makeover: Walk, trot, canter, & happy trails!

Argo the Mustang has learned to canter - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521Cayla Stone continues Argo’s journey from wild mustang to a horse with a job. Argo has learned to walk, trot, canter, and back. He also takes a mini-trail ride on our farm’s lanes. Argo learns quickly, and demonstrates a ton of athletic ability. We imagine him as a child's three-day event horse. Argo's goal? Compete in the June 2012 Fort Collins Extreme Mustang Makeover, and find a loving, forever family at the adoption auction. 

Read also:

Mustang Makeover: Argo leads! (video)

Mustang Makeover: Getting to know you (video)

Be sure to visit Argo's Facebook page: My Extreme Mustang Makeover

Mustang Makeover: Argo leads!

By Cayla Stone

Argo, named after the ship Jason and the Argonauts sailed, and I are on the right track. He seems to be respecting my space a lot more. I've been working on moving him around the pen, both directions, and backing up and moving his forehand around. He's picked everything up really fast and seems to enjoy his work a bit more.

I actually hooked a lead to him and he did really well in his pen. I used a 20' lead so that no matter where he went in his pen he could still feel me on the other end of the rope. This worked great when he tried to pull away a couple times and realized that I still had him. He soon learned it was much easier just to follow me around.

Eventually we opened the gate and walked outside his pen a bit. We need to make it to the round pen, where he will have a job to do outside his pen.

Read also: Mustang Makeover: Day 3 - Getting to know you

(This blog is available on the Amazon Kindle. Search for "Hoofprints" on your device.)

Mustang Makeover: Day 3 - Getting to know you

Day 3 Mustang Training

The first couple days went really well. I spent as much time as I could just sitting in the pen with "little horse" to get him more used to my presence, and he seemed to take it well. I make sure I'm in there twice a day with the pitchfork doing everyday chores, and walking in there to feed him. I got him to come close and sniff me a bit, and even take a little hay out of my hand. I was fortunate that the wranglers at the holding pens were able to get a halter on him while he was in the chute. This will make my job a bit easier once I am close enough to touch him. 

After having two days to settle in, I decided today I wanted to ask a little more from him. In the video you can see me trying to get him to move around me in the pen, and to go where I ask him to. I'm using a long Parrelli stick as an extension of my arm to move him around. As much as possible I try to let him sniff it, and once he is more comfortable I will start using the stick to scratch and rub him all over his body. While he's moving around the pen, I keep an eye on his ears, once they start flicking towards me and he seems attentive, I stop and ask him to face me. When I get the desired reaction (him facing me) I reward him by stepping back, or relieving the pressure.

He picked this up very quickly, and soon he was following my movements with his front end, which is the first step to ground work training. Today I did this about three times, with long breaks in between. At the end of the day I sat with him while he munched on hay, and he seemed to relax considerably. He even rubbed my legs and nibbled at my hat with his muzzle. Tomorrow I will do the same thing, continuing to work him in his pen, asking him to face me and follow my movements, slowly getting closer to him. For the first few days (maybe the first week) I will not try too hard to touch him, eventually he will come around, and it will be his idea.

18407_Cabela's Workwear: For any job, in any weather

Mustang begins new life at our place as he prepares for Extreme Makeover

Our newest friend, a mustang to be trained for the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition, and hopefully, his forever home - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521FORT COLLINS -- Life began anew today for a bay four-year-old Mustang gelding who will live and learn at our stable until June 8 - 10 when he finds his forever home at the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition at Colorado State University.

The wild horse's foster mom, Cayla Stone, a CSU Equine Sciences graduate who has a strong showing and instructional background, will train him. We have high hopes for our newest friend. Cayla rescued a Thoroughbred this fall, trained that horse, and sold him to a good home a few months later as a hunter-jumper-eventing prospect.

Trainers must apply to be accepted in the Extreme Mustang Makeover program. Those competing at an Extreme Mustang Makeover event receive $700 for reimbursed expenses. There are no entry fees.

More than $350,000 in estimated prize money will be available at the 2012 Extreme Mustang Makeover events. Stay tuned as we follow this new adventure!

Extreme Mustang Makeover site:

Animal Den - The Gift Shop for Animal Lovers!

Cash the Mustang: Alive and well

Cash_Mustang_New_OwnerWe wondered what happened to Cash the Mustang, the four-year-old gelding that competed in the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition here at Colorado State University last June. I ran into Cash’s foster mother and trainer, Jessica Dabkowski, at Jax Ranch and Home just before Christmas, and asked her to send me the latest. Cash was adopted at the competition, and Jessica still trains him. Her news:

"Cash has been doing great, and will be staying with me until most likely this spring, when Lauren will be able to take him home and he will be a trail horse for her.   She has ridden him a handful of times and they have done really well together.  So far, Lauren has been the only person other than me to ride him -- the first time she rode him Cash had a bit of a quizzical look on his face, as if to say, "If you're on the ground, then who's on my back?"  But he quickly got used to how Lauren rides and how she asks for things and such.  

$10 Holiday Coupon


I've been taking Cash out on the trails around my neighborhood (Bonner Peak) occasionally and he's still a rock star out there.  I've used him to pony less experienced horses out on the trail and his calming influence helps them so much.  I'm still amazed to say that I use a four-year-old Mustang to pony "less experienced" horses!  


Since the makeover competition, Cash and I competed in an Extreme Cowboy Race in Nebraska (we took 6th place), participated in a mounted shooting clinic, and competed in an ACTHA ride (competitive trail ride) which we took 2nd place out of about 15 horses.  He's been a blast to work with and I'll be both happy and sad to see him go home with Lauren this spring.  


I also had a student's mom who wanted to do a photo shoot with herCash the Mustang's photo shoot. (Click photo to enlarge.) 
daughter on a horse in an open area (no fences) with nothing on the horse.  I thought Cash would be a good candidate for this since he's so calm and reliable.  He was very good and stood nicely for the photo shoot."  


P.S. When we last talked, Jessica planned to apply for this year’s Extreme Makeover competition, and try another Mustang. Good luck, Jessica!

Cash the Mustang gets 'Extreme Makeover'

Cash the Mustang watches his friends at the CSU Spring Fling Horse Show. (Click photo to enlarge.)
FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Cash the wild horse is busy learning the business of civilization.

Rounded up earlier this year with a herd of mustangs in Nevada, Cash took up residence March 6 with his foster-human and new trainer, Jessica Gabkowski. A week and a half later, Cash accepted the saddle. Note: Many fully-grown, untrained horses would not make life this easy.

The goal? To give Cash the “Extreme Mustang Makeover ”, and have him ready for the mustang sale June 13 at the Colorado State University Equine Center.

I met Cash this Saturday at CSU’s annual Spring Fling Horse Show. Cash, and Jessica, who boarded at our stable when she was a CSU student, were hanging out, soaking up the atmosphere, and watching the English horses jump. I might add that Cash was “hanging out” very quietly and peacefully. Cash, a gelding, is four years old, but acts much more mature. Cash will compete in a horse show with the other “Extreme Makeover” candidates in the days before the auction, June 11 -12.

Cash the Mustang under saddle with his foster-human and trainer, Jessica. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Jessica feels lucky. Not all full-grown mustangs are as easy as Cash, but she said “there are some people like me that got really good ones.” Jessica is keeping a diary of Cash’s progress at You can see from Jessica’s photos that Cash has been a real sweety all along. For those who are new to the horse game, remember: A good disposition is one trait that can never be trained.

Cash, as you may notice, is also very cute, about 14 hands, with a long, curly mane, full tail, lots of flaxen highlights, sturdy bones and feet. A lot of people might pass Cash over however, because he is well, just brown.

“That is really the whole point of the program,” said Jessica, “to provide incentive for trainers to train the brown, un-colorful mustangs and get them adopted out.” Wild horses across the country are in oversupply these days, and the government's attempts to keep herd size down have been the subject of controversy.

I should add that Cash will not be auctioned off to just anybody. In order to get him, you need to sign up with the Bureau of Land Management’s adoption program and get approved. No renderers here, please.

Oh, and Cash’s name? It is a sign of hope. Jessica has her eye a share of the $12,000 prize to be split among “Extreme Mustang Makeover” winners. You may also see her flashing a bid card when a certain young horse hits the sale ring.

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet. An add-free version of this blog is available on the Amazon Kindle. Just search for "Hoofprints" on your device.)