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From wild to saddled in days

Stacey Riggs, Jodi Waymire to compete in Mustang Million


by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Trainer Stacey Riggs has Tangled demonstrate a Spanish walk, which involves an exaggerated extension of the leading front leg. Tangled was a wild mustang. Riggs was able to mount Tangled only three days into her adoption.How long do you think it takes to train a wild mustang?

If you are Stacey Riggs or Jodi Waymire, it’s a matter of days.

“Training the mustangs for competition was different from training my other horses because it is extremely condensed,” Riggs said. “It pushed me to try things I wouldn’t normally do. Normally, I spend quite a bit of time on the ground prepping both the horse and myself to be ready for riding. With these guys I was just able to touch them on the second day and we were on Tangled’s back the third. Journey, I was on her back the fifth day.”

Just a few months ago, Benelli, Journey and Tangled were wild mustangs.

by:  ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Journey smiles on command.Now they can bow, smile, prance and balance on a tire for a photo.

Riggs has been training horses for 20 years and teaches lessons and clinics at her Eagle Creek riding facility. She also volunteers for the nonprofit horse rescue organization Sound Equine Options.

She met Waymire through the Hearts-N-Hooves 4-H club.

Waymire caught mustang fever first.

Last summer, Waymire ground-trained a yearling mustang in 98 days as part of the Teens and Oregon Mustangs challenge. As was the goal, the yearling was adopted at the end of the summer.

But Waymire was hooked on mustangs, and Riggs soon caught the bug.

The two at first planned to buy a single mustang and train it together. But they wound up getting three.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - These five ladies (human and equine) are off to compete in the Mustang Million Challenge Sept. 16-22 in Fort Worth, Texas. Left to right: Tangled, Stacey Riggs, Journey, Jodi Waymire and Benelli.Back in April, horse trainer Riggs and then-high school senior Waymire headed to Burns for a Mustang Million auction.

Horses adopted from Mustang Million auctions are eligible to compete at the Mustang Million event in Fort Worth, Texas, with prize money and awards totaling $1 million.

Riggs and Waymire pored over the auction book, watched the horses “for at least eight hours” and took notes.

“The hard thing is they’re not like domesticated horses. You can’t walk up and say, ‘What a nice disposition,’” Riggs said.

“Yeah, you couldn’t get close to them,” Waymire agreed.

by:  ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Jodi Waymire poses with Benelli. Waymire plans to bring Benelli with her to college.Waymire took home Benelli, a 5-year-old buckskin mare with a broken ear.

Riggs brought home Journey, a 5-year-old light chestnut mare, and Tangled, a 5-year-old dun mare.

And then they had to be very, very, patient.

The horses had never even worn a halter.

Riggs and Waymire had to blockade the arena at Riggs’ Eagle Creek Equestrian Facility to get the horses into a round pen.

They spent hours “just sitting in the round pen and staring at them.” The hardest part was waiting to touch the horses until the humans had earned the equines’ trust.

Their patience paid off.

They were on Tangled’s back by day three, and on Journey by day five.

“And in a 10-foot radius of this one on the 10th day,” Waymire said with a laugh, gesturing toward Benelli.

“Also when Benelli was scared, she resorted to aggression by trying to bite or kick,” Waymire wrote in a later email. “I think part of her trust issue was that when we were at Burns for the auction I noticed Benelli was always the outcast in her herd and was always away from the other horses, and she has scars and a broken ear from being picked on.”

It took a lot of time and effort to get Benelli comfortable with humans.

“The first 30 days were difficult. I was out here 4 or 5 in the morning before school,” Waymire said. After school, she’d often stay with the mustangs until 1 a.m.

“Going into this, I basically knew I’d be dedicating the end of the school year and my summer to this... I don’t see a lot of my friends unless they’re my horse friends,” Waymire said.

Waymire and Benelli will compete in specialty classes at the Mustang Million Sept. 16-22 in Fort Worth.

After the Mustang Million competition, Waymire plans to take Benelli with her to college.

Riggs will ride Tangled in the Mustang Million’s Legends Division, where they could win $200,000 and a 2014 Dodge truck.

Journey will compete in the walk-trot division.

After the Mustang Million, Riggs will “probably” keep Journey, a horse she describes as a “firecracker.”

“She is extremely loving but also extremely opinionated. I have to work hard to teach her new things without pushing too hard or she will let me know I’m asking for more than she is ready for,” Riggs said of Journey.

Riggs’ friend has fallen in love with Tangled, so Riggs thinks Tangled probably will end up with her after the Mustang Million.

Riggs and Waymire said the competition helps change perceptions about mustangs.

“Mustangs kind of had a bad name in the past, but the Mustang Heritage Foundation (which runs the Mustang Million event) is changing that,” Riggs said.

You can help

Riggs and Waymire are looking for sponsorships to help with travel expenses to the Mustang Million. For more information or to make a donation, go to www.gofundme.com/4220c8.

For more information on Riggs’ Training: www.riggstraining.com/index.html or www.facebook.com/pages/Riggs-Training/252465588110149.



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