They had 120 days to tame a wild horse. A northwestern Colorado competition shows off the power of the mustang. |

They had 120 days to tame a wild horse. A northwestern Colorado competition shows off the power of the mustang.

At the Meeker Mustang Makeover, wild horses that recently roamed free on the prairie walk through obstacle courses and show off ranching skills ahead of an auction.

Jennifer Brown
Colorado Sun
Mouse, a yearling from the Divide Basin in Wyoming, performs in the freestyle event at the Meeker Mustang Makeover on Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Rio Blanco Fairgrounds. The wild horse was trained by Jason Heid, 16, from Clark.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

It took Bear Emlyn an entire 40 days to get close enough to his mustang to put a halter on her. The bay filly was so wary of Bear that the 11-year-old boy had to spend hours just sitting in the corral with a book.

While Bear was reading “The Indian in the Cupboard,” sometimes out loud to the little horse, his older sister Brynn was training her mustang to walk over tarps and traipse through the creek that flows through their ranch in Snowmass. Brynn, 13, had a halter on her mustang filly within half a day.

It wasn’t that Brynn was that much better at taming a wild horse. When it comes to training mustangs, it’s more about the personality of the horse — there is no rushing them. 

The brother and sister were among 20 people who spent 120 days training wild horses that were removed from public lands in the Utah desert and Wyoming prairie by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The rules of the competition are simple: pick up a wild horse April 29, bring it home for four months, show off the horse’s new skills in an arena filled with judges and potential buyers. 

At the end of the northwestern Colorado competition, called the Meeker Mustang Makeover, the horses are sold in an auction to the highest bidders. The trainers get to take home half of the payout, and the other half goes to the Mustang Makeover organization to run the operation, now in its fourth year. 


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