By Kate Tobiasson, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – The wild and unbridled beauty of mustangs roaming the west is unmatched by any other American Pastoral. These horses have been running in herds across the continent for centuries, and are protected by the Bureau of Land Management under federal law. This act ensures that these animals will continue to roam freely for generations to come, and works to maintain the health and balance of the herds.
The program periodically removes excess animals from the range to ensure herd health and protect rangeland resources. Thousands of the removed animals are then made available each year to the public for adoption or purchase. Over 11,000 mustangs have been placed into private care through Mustang Heritage Foundation events and programs since 2007. There are nearly 50,000 horses currently in holding facilities across America.
“Unfortunately, they stay in holding for years because there are so many of them. They have adoption events, where the pretty looking horses are taken,” explained local Algonquin Regional High School senior, Gabby Jordan.
To help the less flashy and visually appealing horses are left in holding for longer periods of time,so the Bureau established the Extreme Mustang Makeover Event. The Mustang Heritage Foundation created the Extreme Mustang Makeover event in order to recognize and highlight the value of mustangs through a national training competition that showcases the beauty, versatility and trainability of these rugged horses. With approximately 120 days to tame a wild horse, trainers from across America compete for cash and prizes while displaying the trainability of American Mustangs in hope of finding a suitable adopter or purchaser.
This year, Jordan decided to join the competition and is currently training her Mustang, “Foxy” in hopes of helping her find her forever home.
An equestrian since the age of five, Jordan is excited to be taking her training to the next level.
“I have already learned so much from her. It is a raw feeling. I have to get into the mindset of a horse, because she is truly a wild animal,” she smiled. “The biggest thing that I have been paying attention is my body language and how I interact with her. I have to establish a way that I can interact with a horse. She doesn’t have the same background knowledge or experience as a domestic horse. I have to take the role as a lead horse to help her learn how to be comfortable being with a human.”
Training a wild horse isn’t for the faint of heart, and Jordan’s journey with Foxy is only four short months long. This is truly an extreme challenge, but Jordan seems undaunted by the task.
“Foxy was a little skittish and flighty, but she is also very curious. She can be a little bit fiery, which is why we called her Firefox,” laughed Jordan. “I want to pursue a job in the horse industry. This is a huge step for me in my development as a trainer. I really like the way that I get to connect with a horse. There is something about growing a connection with an animal that is so big and strong… It becomes your life; it is not just a hobby.”
Jordan has been working to manage her final months of school with training Foxy and her other horses, who is boarded locally at Quick’s Farm in Westborough.
“It is a little difficult to balance taking care of Foxy, who is currently in Rhode Island with my friends who are working with me and with their Mustangs for the first month. The four of us are working together right now, which is good for Foxy, but it is hard to drive to her- I’ll bring her to Westborough at the end of the month,” she said, grateful for the support of all who have helped her with her journey. “I’ve been riding with Lance DiGiovanni since I was in fifth grade. He has been a huge part of my life; he has taught me about riding and caring for horses. He grew up in France and has a classical dressage background. I’ve appreciated learning from that point of view, because it has shaped my values as a trainer.”
Jordan’s adventures with her Mustang Foxy are just beginning, as is her career with horses. Jordan will plans to attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall, where she hopes to study equine business management and compete with their equestrian team.
The grace, beauty and spirit of Mustangs is unparalleled, and Gabby Jordan is doing all that she can to use her experience to change the life of one of these magnificent creatures.