The last few years have been tough on in-person events and Mustang Magic is no exception. 2023 marked the return of the full Mustang Magic program which included two events – the Trainer’s Challenge and the ever-popular Celebrity Freestyle. Both events are held during the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo and competing trainers are hand-selected by Mustang Heritage Foundation for their abilities and previous MHF/EMM program experience.
For those unfamiliar, trainers invited to participate in the Celebrity Freestyle event have six minutes to showcase a choreographed freestyle act to the crowd. The performance must include at least one branded mustang and, beyond that, the sky is the creative limit! This freedom of creation provides an incredible range of performances and this year was no exception. On Friday, January 20th, Maddie Rose and Six White Horses started things off before eight of the brightest mustang trainers in the country brought their all to the near sold out Will Rogers Coliseum crowd.
First up, Katie Moore danced us into a southern night surrounded by fireflies. She and her mustang, Magic, dressed in lights which added to the scene as the routine showcased one of Katie’s true talents – working at liberty.
Second, Elisa Wallace and her mustang, Rune, showed us how versatile these amazing horses can truly be by diving into a variety of disciplines in just six short minutes…including a surprise zebu appearance!
Third out, famed trick rider Ginger Duke entered the arena in style by roman riding two of her mustangs dressed as ruby slippers – the perfect complement to her Dorothy. Joined in turn by her team, each representing a different Wizard of Oz character, the performance was anything but dull!
Next up, Marsha Sapp, her mustang, Cobra, and a second horse and rider pairing, gave an incredible, lighted performance to a dark house, portraying Top Gun fighter jets and highlighting her specialty and expertise in the sport of dressage.
Fifth to take to the arena was Mirka Crew, who performed an inspiringly beautiful, patriotic routine with two of her previous Extreme Mustang Makeover horses both riding and at liberty, truly demonstrating her skill as a horsewoman.
Sixth out, Mary Miller-Jordan, a liberty specialist, brought the crowd to tears as she told the story of a little girl wishing her toy horse to life in a dream while accompanied by a live cellist and her mustang, Magic.
Next, Craig Moore and his mustang, Delilah, lightened the mood by walking (well, riding) us through a tough day on the golf course complete with sneaky, moving bushes and incredible chip shots.
Last out, Bobby Kerr and his fleet of mustangs took to the arena in a routine highlighting a wide variety of disciplines including driving, reining, jumping, cutting, liberty and well-timed tricks that brought the crowd to their feet.
With so many awe-inspiring performances, it was an incredibly tough competition but, in the end, Bobby Kerr took home the Championship with Mary Miller-Jordan and Craig Moore in second and third, respectively. Congratulations to each of these phenomenal trainers and thank you for sharing your gifts with us!
You can catch the Mustang Magic Celebrity Freestyle replay on CowboyChannel+.
Modeled after the traditional Extreme Mustang Makeover format, the Trainer’s Challenge featured trainers from across the country who picked out their previously untouched wild horse in early September during the Fort Worth Extreme Mustang Makeover. Shaking things up with a random draw for selection position this year, the trainers had just a few hours to view the horses and make a personal list of their top picks, not knowing if they’d still be available by the time their number was called. One by one, they made their selections and headed home to begin the 120-day journey to competition.
On Thursday, January 19, 2023, trainers and their mustangs entered the Will Rogers Coliseum to complete the first preliminary class, Handling and Conditioning, followed by the Maneuvers class that afternoon. On Friday, all trainers returned to the Coliseum to complete the Trail and Compulsory Maneuvers classes which wrapped up the preliminaries. Scores and rankings were tallied and the Top 10 were announced Saturday morning.
The Trainer’s Challenge Freestyle Finals were held Saturday, January 21st which began with opening ceremonies by Maddie Rose and Culver Academies. One by one, each Top 10 trainer entered the arena with their previously wild counterpart to showcase their connection and horsemanship in amazing freestyle routines for a sold out crowd. In the end, it was Nate Eicher of Mineral Wells, TX, and Bet Shez Velvet, a 5-year-old mare out of the Fish Creek, NV, HMA, who took home the top prize.
A replay of the finals performance can be found on CowboyChannel+.
Full class placings and adoption results, as well as horse and trainer information can be found here.
Mustang Heritage Foundation would like to personally thank each and every one of the trainers who helped make this year’s Mustang Magic one for the record books. Your dedication to horsemanship and the American Mustang is second to none and we are proud to have you as part of the Mustang Family.
And congratulations to the adopters who were able to bring home their next forever during the Trainer’s Challenge adoption Saturday evening. We look forward to hearing your future stories!
Many thanks to the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo for hosting Mustang Magic and to our title sponsor, Lone Star Ag Credit. Additionally, Mustang Magic and many Mustang Heritage Foundation programs would not be possible without the close partnership of the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse & Burro Program.