Local resident Maryanna Poe competed in the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition last month at the Southeast Livestock Pavilion in Ocala. The event is held annually to encourage the adoption of wild American mustangs. A total of 54 competitors received a wild mustang to train over a period of 100 days. Her mustang, Aragon’s Onyx, is a five-year-old bay gelding rounded up from the northern hills of Nevada.
“Heading into the competition as a rookie, it was an honor to just be a part of the event and showcase the amazing capabilities of American mustangs,” she said. “In the back of my mind, I had been dreaming of becoming one of the top 10 trainers at the event.”
Poe placed first, seventh and 12th in the three qualifying events for all competitors, allowing her to continue to the two final events for the top 10 qualifiers.
She then went on to place first in Compulsory Maneuvers, a reining pattern that showcases loping, rollbacks, stopping, spins, pivots and lead changes. Next was the freestyle event, which allowed competitors to showcase their creativity and technicalities that they perfected with their mustangs.
“For this event, I chose to perform a circus theme,” she said. “The obstacles that I included in my showcase were two horse stands, a ‘welcome to the circus’ streamer entryway, and a massive diameter ball that Aragon’s Onyx maneuvered around the arena. Aragon’s Onyx also performed a Spanish walk and laid down upon command.”
Based on the combined scores, Poe placed second overall to become reserve champion in the Extreme Mustang Makeover. “This was a historical event for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, as no trainer has ever made the top three in their rookie year,” Poe said. “I was overwhelmed with emotion as they counted off the results.”
While the competition was over, the bidding war had just begun. In the Extreme Mustang Makeover, all horses that completed the competition are auctioned off to the highest bidder.
“As far as I was concerned, Aragon’s Onyx was part of my family, and I was going to do everything in my power to keep it that way,” said Poe, who eventually won the bid for the mustang. “I raised my bidding number up, which raised the price to $7,000. To my astonishment, the number stayed there. Aragon’s Onyx was coming home with me. I was the highest bidder!”
Poe is a professional horse trainer who specializes in behavior-challenged horses, tuning and starting. She customizes a training program for each horse to help clients gain full confidence in any situation. For more information, call (561) 310-5882.