At 9-year’s old, the little beauty and Covington resident Ava Bell already knows how to tame the savage beast.
A few months ago, the petite horse trainer was selected to tame a wild mustang as part of the “Extreme Mustang Makeover.”
Bell has 100 days to gentle and train a wild mustang never touched by humans.
At the end of the 100 days, Bell and her horse Chief participate in the Extreme Mustang Makeover event showing Chief’s training in a 3 ½ minute freestyle event. Approximately $25,000 in prize money is awarded to the trainers in various events.
At the end of the show, the newly trained horses are auctioned and adopted by their new owners.
The ultimate result of the program is to find homes for the mustangs. Extreme Mustang Makeover helps accomplish that goal.
When Bell first saw Chief, he would not approach her.
“It took a long time for me to even get a bridle on him,” Bell said.
Today I would never know it. Chief follows Bell as she leads him through water, across a wobbly bridge, jumping over barrels and backing into a confined space. The peppermint horse treats he receives are a hit.
Chief seems protective of Bell. When Chief heard my camera clicking, he repeatedly put his body in between the camera and Bell, protecting his princess.
Bell was nominated for the Extreme Mustang Makeover by Angel’s Grove Ranch Executive Director Lisa Massamini.
A well-known personal trainer, bodybuilder, children’s fitness author and horsewoman, Lisa Massamini combined all of her loves when she founded Angel’s Grove in 2008.
Angel’s Grove is a non-profit dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating horses and providing children with the opportunity to bond with horses.
“Because we are a non-profit, we can accept donations and grants,” Massamini said. “We are currently looking for sponsors to sponsor horses so we can serve more children.”
Just the cost of feeding 20 horses is expensive. Angel’s Grove also has a few rescued bunnies, ducks, and a piggy.
Bell has been studying with Angel’s Grove for three years and participates in a variety of horse competitions.
“I knew she had what it takes,” Massamini said.
The wild mustang is provided to Bell by the Mustang Heritage Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Program.
The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forestry service try to maintain healthy wild horse populations on healthy public lands by maintaining a balance of wild horses and burros to vegetation, other wildlife and land.
Whenever the horse or burro population becomes greater than the ability of the land to support it, the excess animals are humanely removed and prepared for adoption.
Because they are federally protected animals with no natural predators, the wild horse and burro population can double every four years.
Before wild horses and burros were federally protected, during periods of overpopulation, they would starve to death or be captured and slaughtered for dog food.
More than 230,000 wild horses and burros have been adopted through BLM’s adoption programs including Extreme Mustang Makeover.