With mixed feelings about the possibility of having to leave Uno in Texas, Dale "Snap" Lively left his home in Nauvoo on September 16 to begin the trip to the Extreme Mustang Makeover Competition in Fort Worth. Snap drove to Monroe, Louisiana, to spend the night with his daughter Lorrie and let Uno rest from the trailer ride.
Arriving in Fort Worth the next afternoon, Snap and Lorrie went directly to the Will Rogers Equestrian Center to check Uno in with the staff and get him settled in his stall. They also had to put up pictures and articles about Uno to show his progress for the last 100 days. They also had a DVD player that continuously played a DVD of Uno’s training and the Extreme Trail Competition he had won at the Pumpkin Patch Trail Ride in Jasper.
Snap, what was the schedule of activities for the competition?
"Wednesday evening, the arena was open for us to exercise our horses and practice for the events the next day. The first event on Thursday morning was for conditioning. Judges looked at body condition, muscling, hair coat, handling, manners and overall appearance. I was extremely proud when Uno scored 120, a perfect score. This was a reflection of the grooming, exercise and a feeding program that included 12% Champion Choice purchased at Walker Farmers Cooperative.
"The in-hand segment was next, with each horse being led in front of a panel of judges including John Lyons, Chris Cox, Bob Moorehouse, and other leading trainers and horsepersons. The exercises included turning to the right and left, trotting, stopping, backing, trotting over poles, backing through poles, standing while each foot was picked up and loading in a trailer. Uno performed really well and was in fourth place overall at the end of this section.
"Next was the horsemanship competition which consisted of a two minute mandatory course and a two minute freestyle. To start with, we had to lope circles to the left and right with lead changes, then lope straight into a box toward the wall of the arena where the judges sat, stopping in the box without getting any feet out of it. Then we had to back to the left, still within the poles, ride forward and open a rope gate. Riding through and then closing the gate, a 180 degree turn had to be made, after which a bridge was to be crossed. Following the bridge, we were to trot to the next obstacle, poles fanned out on the ground to step over. Uno had done so well up to this point and he began to trot, but then I took over and slowed him to a walk, resulting in lost points. After walking over the poles, a pole box was laid out on the ground and the maneuver was to turn 360 degrees two times to the right and two and one half times to the left, picking up the left lead to lope to the next segment. Again the human knew what to do, so we went one and three quarters to the right and two and one quarter to the left. Genius, I caused him to lose somewhere around 28 points in one fell swoop. The two minute freestyle went well, Uno showing how well-broken and mannered he had become, I was so proud of him. The lost points dropped Uno out of the top ten which is where he had to be to compete in the finals. Uno’s competition was over, the only thing left was the auction on Sunday. He had finished 20th overall in a field of 138 horses. Uno had become very popular with a lot of folks and it showed during the auction with him bringing $3,500, which made him the eighth highest selling horse in the line-up, and going to a really nice man from Kerrville, Texas, who bought him for his wife to ride. The horse that won the competition bought $4,000, with the top selling horse bringing around $10,000."
Dale, would you tell us what you thought of the whole experience?
"Well, I thought it was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. The people were from all across the country and trained in all disciplines, so you got to see a lot of different methods of horsemanship. During the 100 days I had Uno, I also learned a lot from him about mustangs. Uno became my trusted friend and partner causing me to have a new respect for the American Mustang. These horses are very trainable and it has been shown they can be trained for just about anything you want to do horseback from cow work, dressage, jumper, timed events, to just enjoying as a trail horse. They have good feet and legs, are very tough and have a lot of heart. It was very hard for me to leave Uno in Fort Worth, but the bid was more than I could pay and the man who bought him wouldn’t have stopped there, he really wanted him for his wife. I turned 70 the day of the auction and have four good horses, but if I get another horse, it would be a mustang."
Will you be doing the Makeover again next year?
"I don’t know what the future holds, I might get the urge. I will tell you that watching is a whole lot different than doing. It’s easy to sit at home or at the arena and think I can do that, but there is a big commitment in time, energy and money. You have to be committed to it and realize you are going up against the best trainers in the country or they wouldn’t be there. I’m really proud I got the opportunity to do this. It was an honor to be selected and I had an extraordinary horse in Uno. He was a willing, trusting partner and I miss him every day."
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Don Linker is an outside salesman for AFC.