Extreme Mustang Makeover is a competition/fundraiser/conservation
effort developed by the
Mustang Heritage Foundation to showcase the
trainability and versatility of the BLM
Mustang. Trainers must apply and be accepted
to participate in an event. If selected, they receive
an ungentled BLM Mustang from a holding facility
on a set day, then have 90 days to train that horse
for a final 2-day competition that involves skill
and riding tests on both trail and in the arena.
Cindy was accepted as a trainer for
the second time for the event in
Norco, CA, that takes place in May. Last year
she finished the event in 6th place, and husband
Steve purchased her Makeover horse Wyatt at the
auction following the event. So Wyatt got to come
home to YVEC! You can see Wyatt's adventures here:
Cindy receives her 2012 horse on Friday, February
3rd. This year all trainers will receive a mare
to work with!
Check back here often to see how the
pair is doing, and join us in Norco on May 18th
and 19th to cheer them on! If you are interested
in owning the mustang Cindy trained, all the participating
horses will be available for auction following the
event on May 20th!
Day 1: Friday, February 3, 2012.
The Pick-up See the pictures
of today in the GALLERY.
Like last year, the
week before the new horse was to arrive a
special pen was prepared where the mustang would
live, begin his training, and get used to his surroundings.
A large outdoor pen close to the main tack room
was chosen for its size and also its placement.
The pen is quiet, but allows the horse a close view
of nearly any activity going on, from horses being
groomed and led to those in riding or turnout. Exposing
the new horse to the normal elements of daily ranch
life is a good way to begin desensitizing him.
Round pen panels were placed across the corners
to 'round out' the pen. The reason for this is to
allow the most basic training of moving the horse
to take place without any corners for the horse
to become trapped in. Once the horse is able to
lead, he will be worked in a traditional round pen
and move to a regular stall.
The YVEC crew set out at 7am to pick up Cindy's
mare. It was sunny but cool, and there was very
little waiting at BLM Ridgecrest when we arrived.
Cindy's mare was quickly located in the holding
pens, and the BLM cowboys had her sorted and loaded
in no time at all! See the pictures of today in
She ran into that trailer with focus and purpose
- and crashed into the opposite end. Because of
her determination and will, Cindy decided to name
her "Ziva". So with a slightly swollen
nose, Ziva was on her way home.
Ziva is a bay mare with a tiny white star. She was
captured in September 2010 from just outside the
Reveille Herd Management Area in Nevada. Her papers
state that she gave birth to a foal that first year
at Ridgecrest, and now she's ready to be trained
arrived at YVEC the same way she got into
the trailer - fast and determined! She flew
out and straight into the far side fence.
That was last time today that she wasn't cautious.
From here on in, she paid close attention
to where everyone was and what was happening
After a few moments of rest, Cindy entered
Ziva's pen and began lightly moving her around.
She trotted and cantered the length of the
pen several times, and very quickly learned
that when she stopped and focused on Cindy,
she was rewarded with time to relax. Creeping
closer during each rest break, Cindy's first
touch on the mare came about 50 minutes after
her arrival at YVEC.
was no pushover, though! She stayed cautious
with her attention on Cindy for the remainder
of the session. She worked on allowing a touch
with the rope, a training stick, and the hand.
She stood very well for the rope to be drawn
over her head and swung over her neck and
back, but objected with some powerful and
fast kicks when it touched her hind legs or
went around her behind. She enjoyed the training
stick the most, allowing to Cindy to scratch
and rub her repeatedly. Each time she got
restless and moved away, she was worked around
the pen until time for another breather. In
this manner, Cindy and Ziva worked through
a great first day!
Day 2: Saturday, February 4,
2012. Getting to Know
Cindy worked with Ziva four
times throughout the day on Saturday, just getting
more comfortable around each other. The second workout
Cindy was able to touch her face, jaw, and neck.
On the third workout, Ziva was caught without having
to first work in circles around the pen. The fourth
workout was even better - Ziva began leading on
the rope, following Cindy willingly without a struggle!
Day 3: Sunday, February 5, 2012.
The Third Day Fussies
By now Ziva knows just enough
of what she should do to have figured out a way
to avoid it! This is a pretty typical step in training,
and when Cindy began her only session (an evening
one), she knew she'd have to backtrack a little
in order to move forward. Ziva seemed to have reverted
back to the first day - even before that, maybe!
She had to be worked around the pen in order to
be caught, and from there she tried every trick
to avoid being touched or coming forward toward
Cindy. She ran off, she reared up, she did all the
things she could to convince CIndy to just walk
away a leave her alone today. She obviously doesn't
know Cindy very well yet!
With patience and repetitition, Ziva again got
to a place where she could be touched and rubbed,
but she didn't make it too easy. It was obvious
she enjoyed being scratched - once she allowed CIndy
to approach, she grew quiet, put slack in her rope,
and just relaxed. Then, as if just waking up, she'd
fly away again and the process would restart! Cindy
ended the session on a good note, with patting and
rubbing on both sides, all the way down to her shoulder
today. She is much more wary of people being on
her right side, so Cindy will continue to focus
on gaining her trust and spending some extra time
'evening her out' so she has two good sides!
Day 4: Monday, February 6,
2012. People Are Strange
Ziva was much easier
to catch today. She had two sessions, am and pm,
and this time she was sacked out with a towel on
the end of the training stick. She did very well
with this. It seems she's more content to be flogged
all over with a towel than she is to allow any human
touches! She continues to be misatrustful of hands,
but did allow petting to her withers today.
Day 5: Tuesday, February 7,
2012. Meeting Friends
Today was a big day: Ziva was
tied up to her stall for a while today. While tied,
she got to meet some ranch friends, Amamnda and
Aislinn, who spent some time walking...jogging...HOPPING
around the vicinity of her stall while she stood!
Ziva got to see a wide range of human behavior and
movement, and learn that not only did none of it
hurt her, but also that the craziness stopped when
she did! Aislinn and Amanada times their funny dance
to match her movements - if she fussed, they did.
If she stopped, they did. In the end she allowed
these too new friends, and Janet, too, to pet her.
Cindy was able to pet and touch her left side today,
but she continues to be shy about the right.
Day 6: Wednesday, February 8,
2012. Out & About
See the pictures of today in the GALLERY.
continues to amaze and confound her growing
number of fans around the ranch. She continues
to mistrust hands reaching for her, though
she will tolerate it and enjoys the petting
she receives, she's still timid about the
whole process. But give her a rope, a blanket,
a towel - no problem!
After a full flagging and rubdown
with the towel, Ziva went out for her first
walk around the property. Occasionally reluctant,
Ziva took her first stroll around the pens
pretty much in stride. From there, Cindy led
her through the barn several times, even stepping
into an enclosed stall.
took a tour of the obstacle course, walking
over some cavaletti and some natural logs,
stepping over a bridge several times, and
even going through the 'Cowboy Shower'. She
did all this with barely any hesitation and
seemed quite comfortable with it all.
The only moment of panic came
when Ziva stepped out of the stall and hit
her hip on the door. She got scared and panicked,
and on the cement floor of the barn it was
a tense moment. Cindy dropped her rope to
allow her to regain her balance, and once
she did, she knew she was free!
Of course she
had to enjoy her freedom for a bit, taking
a tour of the ranch again and especially visiting
the cute geldings in the back pasture. But
soon she entered an empty stall where Cindy
picked up her rope, and she finished out her
session working again on accepting aproaching
humans and hands.
After her lunch break, Diva
once again walked the property, being a perfectly
behaved lady the entire time! To top off her
day, she was introduced to her first sheet!
She didn't mind being dressedin the sheet
one bit - drape her with material all you
like, just try not to touch "Madame"
too much while you do it! She truly is a DIVA
See the pictures of today in
Day 7: Thursday, February 9,
2012. The Dread Blue Tarp
Day 8: Friday, February 10,
The first of many review days!
Taking time to let information sink in, and to repeat
something she's already been successful at, is important
to Ziva's development. Today was spent with more
leading and checking out the farm, and more approach
and retreat with new faces.
Day 9: Saturday, February 11,
2012. Round Pen Bound!
That's right - she doesn't
like to be looked at, and she's not fond at all
of being touched - but she round-pens great! CIndy
worked her in the round pen for the first time today,
introducing the concept of real work with purpose,
rather than the 'get acquainted' stuff she's done
so far. And Ziva did very well!
She is a smart girl, and very responsive, but she
continues to struggle with the idea of trusting
people. So Cindy also gave her time today to stand
and be approached by the many people coming in and
out for lessons on a Saturday. Ziva received many
forehead rubs and words of encouragement today!
Day 10: Sunday, February 12,
2012. Day Off
A much deserved break for both
Ziva and Cindy.
Day 15: Friday, February 17, 2012. A New Start
After a lot of careful consideration and with much
regret, on February 16th Cindy made the decision
to withdraw Ziva from the competition. After nearly
two weeks, Ziva had learned many "things",
but was no closer to trusting humans than she had
been the day she arrived. She remained completely
on guard and on the edge of flight the entire time,
and that is no way to have to live. Ziva was in
terror of people feeding her, cleaning her stall,
or even just walking past her pen. You can train
a horse to do many things, but you can't force them
to trust you, and CIndy decided it would be unfair
to the mare to try to push the kind of fast-paced
training program a Mustang Makeover necessarily
Ziva returned to her herd on Friday, February 17th,
and looked much better running towards them than
she ever had with us! In exchange, Cindy received
a new mare, this one a four year old from the Twin
Peaks range. She is tall and lanky and seems much
more at home in a day than Ziva had in two weeks.
She is as yet unnamed - Cindy is waiting for her
personality to shine through!
We wish CIndy and her new
mare good luck! |
Day 16: Saturday, February 18, 2012.
Today Cindy began her training program again, starting
at the begining with turn and face and touching.
By Saturday evening the new mare was allowing Cindy
to approach and pat her.
Day 17: Sunday, February 19, 2012.
Sunday was almost a day off, with just a quick
review session. The new horse is also showing curiosity
when ranch staff approach her to feed. A good sign!
Day 18: Monday, February 20, 2012. Rolling Along
It looks like our new girl will be called "Hannah"!
Hannah and Cindy had 3 sessions today. She was sacked
out with a towel and began leading, which are both
going very well. Today she was brushed over her
entire body - including the legs! She was fitted
with a new halter and is no longer required to drag
her lead rope around, and another bonus - she got
the blue ball to play with! So far a very smart
Day 19: Tuesday, February 21, 2012.
Hannah got her first saddle today! She didn't have
any negative reactions at all, even when walked
in her pen. She and Cindy played "Patty Cake"
with the big blue ball - Cindy bounced it next to
her and off her sides and the saddle, even setting
it on top of the saddle. Hannah takes it all in
stride - she is a very willing partner!
Day 20: Wednesday, February 22, 2012.
To The Round Pen - See the pictures of today in
In the morning, Cindy and
Hannah worked again on saddling and bouncing
the ball. Hannah is curious but not particularly
worried about anything happening around her.
After playing in the pen, the pair ventured
out for the very first time!
Cindy kept Hannah on her long lead, taking
her all around the ranch, through the barn,
an into the toy yard behind the arena. She
got to walk over the bridges, some cavaletti,
and some natural log obstacles. She did a
great job - she was always careful to stop
and sniff and examine an obstacle before just
leaping onto it, but once she assessed it
wouldn't hurt her, she willingly walked over
The afternoon session found Cindy and Hannah
ready to go to the roundpen for the very
first time! Hannah was fitted with a bridle
and snaffle bit first. She objected a little
to having something put into her mouth,
but again, once she determined it wasn't
going to hurt anything, Hannah accepted
her new gear.
The first roundpen workout went great,
with Cindy simply asking Hannah to move
around in either direction. When she had
the idea of movement, Cindy gave Hannah
some new sensations to think about as she
procedded to secure the reins to the saddle
in various positions, and with varying degrees
of tautness. The purpose of this is to teach
her to give to pressure, similar to what
she learned from dragging her leadrope the
first few days, but this time the pressure
comes from the bit.
By tying the reins first to one side, then the
other, Hannah learned to follow her nose when she
felt pressure on the bit. Again, she took her training
all in stride. Once Cindy can see that Hannah understands
how to follow her nose consistently, it will be
time to get on!
Day 21: Thursday, February 23, 2012.
Patience, My Dear.
Cindy and Hannah went to the roundpen twice today
for workouts. Afterwards, Hannah stood tied on her
own, to practice being patient while Cindy taught
some arena lessons. She did very well with the waiting!
Day 22: Friday, February 24, 2012.
After her morning round pen session, Cindy fitted
Hannah with the long ropes and ground drove her
for the first time! Through ground driving, Cindy
is able to communicate with Hannah through the reins
and a bit, just as she will be when she's on her
back. Hannah responded well to cues given through
In the afternoon, the pair ground drove again,
then as a reward for hard work on a warm day, Hannah
received her first squirt off with the hose! Once
clean and fresh, Cindy gave Hannah a tail bag to
protect her luscious long hair, and braided an unruly
section of her mane to one side. She's going to
be the belle of the ball in Norco!
Today saw one more new thing - the dreaded Chick
Flag! Hannah met the pink and yellow flag with the
little yellow chick on it today, and she tolerated
its flapping and fluttering with her typical curious-but-not-worried
Day 23: Saturday, February 25, 2012.
Yes - after a quick ground drive review to test
her steering and brakes, CIndy got on Hannah for
the first time today! As it turned out, their biggest
issue today was a spectacular LACK of fireworks!
Hannah decided there was no need to move with Cindy
on her back, so Amanda stepped into the round pen
and "lunged" her, to help the pair get
going. They concentrated on walking and trotting,
though a couple canter steps did get slipped in!
Hannah learned to turn in both directions with a
rider aboard, and to stop. After all that - she
got her second bath!
Day 24: Sunday, February 26, 2012.
New for today: Hannah got tacked up at the railing
at Cindy's tack room, like a big horse does! She
went for her second ride today, and did great without
a lunge person in the center. She worked on walk,
trot, and even did two circles of canter!
Day 25: Monday, February 27, 2012.
Make Yourself Useful
The weather today was uncooperative to say the
least. Cold, threatening rain, and extremely windy.
So instead of a third ride, Hannah got to learn
how to pack up the ranch for weather! She was able
to work on her leading and ground manners with Cindy
while they took down the jumps in the big arena,
picked up and stored all the things that were blowing
around, and carried buckets into the suppliment
room in the barn. Hannah also got a new room today,
she's been moved to a regular pen with a partial
cover over it, just in time to keep her dry tonight!
Day 26: Tuesday, February 28, 2012.
Round and Round
A great ride in the round pen, even though she
had yesterday off. Today was Hannah's first day
in the big round pen, where she really had the freedom
to move and turn easily.
Day 27: Wednesday, February 29, 2012.
Not for Hannah of course - for Cindy! Cindy had
to spend the entire day in court getting selected
for jury duty. She stopped by in the morning to
work with some other horses and boarders, then tied
Hannah up for a little patience practice. After
an hour and a half (during which she was quiet and
sweet), Hannah got released by Debbi to play in
her big pen again.
Day 28: Thursday, March 1, 2012. Working
Another ride in the big round pen today for Cindy
and Hannah, and the ride went great. Hannah is getting
better at cantering in both directions and is becoming
more responsive all around. Today when Cindy left
for court, Hannah work on patience again, and then
she was led back to her pen by Kristen! It was the
first time someone besides Cindy was at the other
end of her leadrope, and she behaved herself very
nicely for Kristen, too!
Day 29: Friday, March 2, 2012. Review
Concentrating mainly on improving the canter, Hannah
and Cindy worked in the round pen again today.
Day 30: Saturday, March 3, 2012. Just
Like a Big Girl
Welcome to day 30, the last day on this page! Hannah's
next updates will be next door at Day
31 - 60.
It was a big day for day 30, too. Hannah no longer
wears her halter in her pen. She has been safe and
reliable to catch for long enough! And of course,
today was another round pen ride - but this time,
she ventured out of the pen when the schooling session
With the help of Arrow and Claire, Hannah and Cindy
took their first riding tour of the ranch. They
followed Arrow down through thr dressage court,
then around to the toy box and over the bridge.
Next, everybody moved into the big arena, where
Hannah and Cindy tackled the 'car wash' curtain
and wove their way through the jumps, and Hannah
dragged a log with the rope dallied around the horn.
After that the two horses and riders made their
way around the pens and back to the tack area!
As cool down today, Hannah stood tied by the back
pastures, where the goats Mel and Clementine live.
Hannah didn't mind meeting the goats at all, though
she was concerned when Clementine (who is a plus-size
goat) leaned on the fence and dragged herself all
the way along it for a good scratch! But Hannah
stood like a champ, and remianed there quietly while
Cindy taught some lessons. All in all, an exciting
day for the team!