Young Equestrians

N.J. Native Wins Youth Mustang Makeover In Kentucky

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Cat Zimmerman and her mustang, Beau Credits: Extreme Mustang Makeover
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Cat Zimmerman, second from the right along with many supporters celebrate victory in the Extreme Mustang Makeover. Credits: Extreme Mustang Makeover
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — New Jersey native Cat Zimmerman added another jewel to her crown at the Extreme Mustang Makeover.

On June 21, adult and youth competitors traveled to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, for the chance to win the championship title at the Extreme Mustang Makeover. With approximately 100 days, trainers and mustangs work on bonding, gentling and natural horsemanship methods to showcase their mustangs’ abilities.

Zimmerman, 16, who first learned to ride at Seaton Hackney Stables in Morristown, continues to add more championships to her name as she and her mustang Beau earned the 2018 Youth Extreme Mustang Makeover Championship. Despite Zimmerman’s minor fumble in the handling and conditioning class, she was able to make it up by placing first in the youth trail class. Then during her freestyle performance, she wowed the crowd with her superwoman routine securing the championship.

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“I was really nervous. I get stressed out over the youth because you only have 3 minutes and 30 seconds to freestyle and I already messed up in the handling and conditioning because I forgot to pick up his feet, so I felt like I failed him because I didn't get to showcase him to his full ability,” said Zimmerman. “Even going into trail class, I was nervous because I wanted to show people how amazing he was.

During freestyle he was hyper, so he was kind of crow hopping and bucking around a little bit, but he was having fun, which is great. He did everything that I wanted him to so that’s all I could’ve asked for,” Zimmerman added. “I liked the fact that I can just go out there and have fun with him. Once we stepped into the ring all the stress went away and it was just us playing around together and just doing what we do at home.”

As for Beau, he has a forever home with Zimmerman and she plans on doing a liberty team with him and her 2016 Extreme Mustang Makeover horse, Bella, when she performs at fairs and expos to promote mustangs.

“The first time that I went to the pens for pick-up back in February, I looked at all the horses to get an idea about the draws and I saw him, and he looked exactly like my mare from 2016. I kind of had a gut feeling that he was really special, and I really wanted him,” said Zimmerman.

“Over 40 horses and I had 20 favorites, and he was my top pick. When we got our draw number it ended up being him, which is crazy because there’s not a big chance of that happening, so I knew it was meant to be. I really just love doing everything with him.”

Zimmerman took home a $1,000 check, A Cut Above belt buckle and a Resistol Hat certificate.

Zimmerman entered her first Mustang Makeover in 2015 and placed fourth with a filly named Comacheria, also known as Monche. 

The following year, Bella was rushed to the veterinary clinic for colic surgery just prior to the competition and had to stay home. The event organizers presented Zimmerman and Bella with a special "Best Bonded Pair" award.

In 2017 Zimmerman and Minnie Mouse took top honors in the Makeover in Springfield, Mass.

Zimmerman is now based in Archer, Fla. and with her family established the non-profit CZ Mustangs to rescue, retrain, and re-home mustangs. Zimmerman also  travels around the country to compete and perform with her mustangs.

Zimmerman won’t be resting on her laurels. As soon as she got back from Kentucky she was working with a new horse, Digby to prepare him for the 2018 Georgia TIP Challenge as part of the Trainer Incentive Program offered by the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

Follow Zimmerman on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/czmustangs/

Another New Jersey trainer, James Duffey, 18 finished 19th overall in the adult division out of 43 competitors, many of them older, more experienced professional trainers. His horse, Star Spangled Dunes sold for $1,700. He competed a year earlier in the youth division.

The mustangs that competed in the Extreme Mustang Makeover for adults were wild mares and geldings 4-7 years old that had been living in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) off-range corrals. Youth trainers worked with yearling mustangs for the competition. All trainers are randomly paired with a mustang.

At the competition, the horse-and-rider duos compete in a handling and conditioning class, a maneuvers class and a trail class. The Top 10 adult competitors then compete in a finals performance consisting of compulsory maneuvers and freestyle.

At the conclusion of the event, all the adult horses were available for purchase via public competitive bid. All 46 adult horses were placed into homes for an average price of $1,500, with the highest selling mustang going for $5,500. Complete event and sale results can be viewed at extrememustangmakeover.com.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover is produced by the Mustang Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse & Burro Program

The next Extreme Mustang Makeover will take place in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept.  6-8, 2018. Tickets are on sale now and can be found at https://extrememustangmakeover.com/events/texas/

About the Mustang Heritage Foundation

The primary mission of the Mustang Heritage Foundation is to create and promote programs and activities that provide information and education about wild horses and burros, elevate their image and desirability, provide opportunities to become involved in the wild horse and burro experience and secure adequate numbers of caring homes for excess horses. Working in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management the Mustang Heritage Foundation works to ensure healthy wild herds and rangelands through the placement of excess animals removed from public lands so future generations can enjoy this distinctive part of our American heritage. As a 501 (C)(3), public, charitable, nonprofit organization, the Mustang Heritage Foundation works to identify and develop sources of private financial funding to further support the mission of the Foundation. For more information visit www.mustangheritagefoundation.org

About the Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) removes wild horses and burros from public lands to ensure a healthy balance of land and animals. Since 1971, the BLM has placed more than 235,000 wild horses and burros into good homes nationwide. Partnerships, like the Mustang Heritage Foundation, provide the BLM with additional opportunities to place animals into good homes. Interested applicants can attend BLM offsite adoption/sales event, visit a BLM Off-Range Corral, or participate in an Internet adoption/sales event to apply to take a wild horse or burro home! To learn more about the Wild Horse and Burro Program, please call 866-468-7826 or visit www.BLM.GOV/whb .

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield.

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