From Wild to Mild: the Meeker Mustang Makeover
Amidst all the excitement surrounding the Meeker Sheepdog Classic this weekend, the rodeo stands were jam-packed at the first inaugural Meeker Mustang Makeover held this past Friday at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds in Meeker, Colorado.
Gate receipts showed more than 600 people attended, and the Lions Club mounted a herculean effort having to go out for more food all night long to feed the crowd that came from all corners.
The trainers arrived at noon with their horses to meet the judges, walk the course and assess what the evening would bring.
The Working Equitation Obstacle Course was laid out with tricky scary stuff for horses, like long flapping yellow rain slicker, bridges and a colorful pinata. Yearling cattle provided by Bruce Clatterbaugh waited expectantly at the end of the ring, soon to be herded into a bullseye, all by wild mustangs with only 100 days of training.
The packed stands “oohed and ahhed” as horses had to be cajoled into approaching the scary objects and perform super creative freestyle events dreamed up by their trainers that included gunshots and standing in the back of a truck.
The winning contestant was the Woods family consisting of lead trainer Joe Wood’s two talented daughters, Deana and Leah, who rode their horse Flintstone. Their freestyle included Deana dragging Leah into the ring including the border collie, and concluded with all three riding Flintstone, having the girls crawl around and pass beneath his legs and finally laying Flintstone down. Flintstone was the First Prize winner of the evening going for $3,700 to Joe Woods and his family, having won first place prize ($2,000).
Sarah Geis, a trainer out of the Larkspur area won second place with her lovely grey gelding Wyatt Earp. Selling for $1,200 to a dude ranch in Wyoming, Wyatt floated through his freestyle and handled the cattle sorting well.
1st Place—Flintstone (Joe Wood)—Winning Bid $3,700 to Joe Wood, Meeker, Colorado.
2nd Place—Wyatt (Sarah Geis)—Winning Bid $1,200 to Bliss Ranch, Buffalo, Wyoming.
3rd Place—Skeeter (Wade Allred)—Winning Bid $800 to Nick Theos Family LLC, Meeker, Colorado.
4th Place—Sky (Cody Rhyne)—Winning Bid $1,100 to Cody Rhyne, Clifton, Colorado.
5th Place—Douglas (Shawn Welder)—Winning Bid $850 to Rogers Ranch, Meeker, Colorado.
6th Place—Nitus (Paige Burnham)—Winning Bid $1,000 to Bliss Ranch, Buffalo, Wyoming.
All proceeds, other than the half of the sale price that goes to trainers, will go to what will be a newly formed Meeker Mustang Makeover group to support future Mustang Makeovers.
There are so many dedicated groups and volunteers to thank for making this pilot a success. With special thanks to Meeker Sheepdog Classic board (Maym Cunningham and Bruce Clatterbaugh), Rio Blanco County Historical Society Board (special thanks to board president Teresia Ruckman Reed), trainer coordinator and local horse professional Billy Goedert, local auctioneer Chris Alger, all our sponsors: Utah Oil and Gas, Caerus, Ducey’s Electric, Mountain West, Ford Columbine, Grand River Construction, Global Fund Investments, Ranch and Resort Realty (Christy Belton), 4M Ranch, Coal Creek Farms, Double H Outfitters, Curicyn, Wendl’s, Town of Meeker, Rio Blanco County, the Meeker Lodging Board, Glenwood Veterinary Clinic.
And thanks to local graphic artist Carly Thomson for creating our poster and artwork, and Lions Club for handling concessions, Range Royalty for ambassadors, Boyd Richardson for all his support and help with the venue, and Mason Holliday for singing the national anthem. And thank you to the BLM for their help making the mustangs available.
And huge thanks to our judges: local Steve Mantle from Wheatland, Wyoming, Maree McAteer from Carbondale/New Zealand, Mindy Bower, from Kiowa, Colorado, and Jane Turnburke from Meeker, Colorado, who judged the cow work.
Most of all special thanks to all our trainers, who stepped forward in this inaugural year and took a leap of faith, spending their summer gentling and earning the trust of these Piceance wild mustangs, and quickly bringing them up to speed to make safe, trusting partners for their new owners.
From the Meeker Mustang Makeover Advisory Board:
Billy Goedert, Maym Cunningham, Bruce Clatterbaugh, Teresia Ruckman Reed, Marilee Rippy, Deirdre Macnab, Melissa Kindall, Jane Turnburke, Dessa Watson, Kathleen Kelley, Kyle Arnold, Ben Smith, Makala Barton