The Wild West Lives

MEEKER I Rylee Allred, 16, is super excited about her horse this year. She joins three other members of the Rangely-based Allred family who have participated for the last three years in the Meeker Mustang Makeover. 

Last year Rylee trained a yearling. This year she took on a 3-year-old mare who she has named “Rogue Sister.” On many a hot day this summer, these two can be found immersed in the White River cooling off while Rylee tries to take the horse from wild to tame in just 120 days. A lot is at stake. This year the pot is $12,000 divided among the winners, and trainers get half the proceeds of the sale of their horse, making them highly invested in their horses’ success. Other family members participating include her dad Wade Allred who has a full time horse training business called Allred Horse Training and is working with a 3-year-old gelding he has called “Windy Bob.” Her two cousins, Chance, 11, and Clay, 14, have also signed up to train horses this year, each with a yearling. Chance’s horse is called “Remington,” an eye-catching tri-color paint. Chance says he’s a courageous young horse and very smart. Clay’s horse is called “Blaze” and is a pretty bay with a white blaze. “He is a fast learner,” Clay said.

Meanwhile in Meeker, Gayle Rogers, 83, who has been a Meeker rancher/outfitter for 40-plus years has entered the competition to train her yearling mustang “Sparky.” A gentle giant of a baby, Sparky is gaining a foundation to find his lifetime home. Gayle, who grew up on the east coast working with Belgians, says her “little big horse” shows a gentle, willing attitude. 

Three other newcomers to the competition from the Meeker area include Garrett Merz, an eighth grader at Barone Middle School. Garrett, 13, calls his Palomino yearling “Sonny,” and says he’s seen his wild horse go from wild to a ‘love bug,” coming up for pats and attention. He’s already taught him to lie down. 

Noelani Rogerson is a fourth generation “Paniolo” (cowboy) from the island of Hawaii. She has made Meeker her home and has drawn a lovely sorrel horse she calls “Jasper” who will make a fine ranch horse according to Noelani.

James Amick, is a fifth generation cowman from the Meeker area, has drawn a slender athletic intelligent mare he calls “Little Georgia.” Spending the summer in the Flattops managing his family’s and another ranch’s cows, his horse should get plenty of experience on the trail.  

The Meeker Mustang Makeover is unique in that the event encourages trainers to expose their horse to as many people, animals and stimuli as possible to help the horse adapt successfully to their new homes and future lives. A de-sensitized horse is more likely to have an easier time transitioning to their new home. Buyers need to remember these are green-broke horses with only 120 days on them.

This year the Meeker Mustang Makeover is hosting its event all day on Saturday, Aug. 28, starting with the obstacle courses at 9 a.m. and ending with the live and virtual auction which starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the gate, kids 12 and under are free. Celebrity announcer Branden Edwards is our announcer this year, with experience announcing at rodeos from California to Florida. 

Judges are the well-known Meeker native Steve Mantle of Mantle Ranches, Bridget Strang from The Strang Ranch, and newcomer this year Wayne Tachera who is head wrangler for the BLM Canon City Mustang Facility.

Join us to meet the trainers and their horses the night before, Friday, Aug. 27 from 6-8 p.m. at a Meet the Trainers party at the Rio Blanco Fairgrounds. Dinner and soft drink is $10, alcoholic drinks are extra, and wear your cowboy boots and cowboy hat. 

You can watch the livestream action online starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28 when contestants try to maneuver through an obstacle course and move a cow. The opening ceremony and freestyles start at 3 p.m., with awards followed by the 7 p.m. live and on-line auction for the horses. Interested buyers need to sign up in advance at (BLM approval required).  Come bring your friends and family, and be a part of the action of the wild and unpredictable West and its iconic mustang.

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PRESS RELEASE | Special to the Herald Times