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Extreme Mustang Makeover: Wild To Gentle In 100 Days

Most animal adoption events are all about cuddly cats and friendly dogs — but not the Extreme Mustang Makeover, which concludes Saturday at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.

Roughly 47 wild mustangs are demonstrating what they’ve learned from their trainers over the past 100 days.

The horses were removed from public lands in 10 western states by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as part of its Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Adult and youth trainers participating in the Extreme Mustang Makeover have a 100 days to get their horses ready to be adopted.

Kyla Hogan is with the Mustang Heritage Foundation, which runs the mustang makeover program.  She said the training focuses on the basics.

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Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT
Jessica Holzer, 18, from Geneva, waits to show off Danny, the two year old wild mustang she trained.

“They need to be easily caught and haltered. Easily led," she said. "They need to be able to pick up their feet for farrier work. And they also need to be able to get in and out of a trailer. "

The event, which began Friday, will conclude with the mustangs of the adult trainers being auctioned off to bidders that have been approved through the bureau.

Jessica Holzer, 18, said horses with youth trainers like her aren't auctioned off but they can be reassigned.

She spent a 100 days working with Danny, a 2-year-old she says loves to be scratched behind the ears.

But Danny's also lazy, which made the mustang's training both easy and hard.

"Because she doesn't like to work," Holzer said. "She likes to eat and that's it."

Still, Holzer says, she plans to keep the horse.  And because the youth trainers weren't allowed to ride their mustangs until after the competition, Holzer says, come Monday, she'll be saddling up.