Update: Pappa Mike and Wakiyan will get to run together for good. Mike won the auction for Wakiyan at the Extreme Mustang Makeover and officially adopted her.
This story was written by Kathryn Robinson for Local 12 WKRC. You can see the original article by clicking here.
Tens of thousands of untamed horses are running wild across America but there’s not enough space to hold them.
A Burlington man is taking part in a competition that trains wild mustangs with the mission of finding them a new home.
Mike Cassedy has been training five-year-old mare, Wakiyan Nuni, for just over 100 days at a small barn in Verona.
He will compete with Wakiyan Thursday at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington in the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition.
The competition is hosted by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, an organization that works in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management.
“Their whole mission is to promote the mustang. Try to get people to believe that you can adopt a mustang, that you can work with a mustang, you can bring a mustang around,” Cassedy said.
American mustangs are protected by the BLM under federal law but there are far more horses than land to hold them.
“They starve to death. The mothers can’t provide the milk for their babies. It’s not a good thing so if we can take a mustang and we can get them settled and gentled and trained and somebody decides I’d really like to have a mustang and we provide that opportunity for them to buy it, then we’ve taken one more out of the 57,000 and put them in a really good place,” Cassedy said.
More than 3,800 mustangs have been adopted through the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition. An additional 5,500 have been adopted through other programs put on by the Mustang Heritage Foundation.
The challenge started just over three months ago.
“They literally shoot from one end of a holding pen into the trailer itself. You slam the doors. You come back to your facility, start doing the work and you have just over 100 days,” Cassedy said.
It took patience and time for Wakiyan to allow Cassedy to touch her and another six weeks before he could ever ride her.
“By reassuring her, she gained more confidence quicker,” Cassedy said. “She was more willing to try things.”
Cassedy has been gentling Wakiyan not just to compete in handling and maneuver competitions, but to make sure she will be ready to enter a new home. Although Cassedy says there’s a good chance he will be the one to adopt her.
The competition will run from Thursday through Saturday at Kentucky Horse Park. The horses will also be available for adoption through an auction on Saturday.