Guy Woods Captures First Extreme Mustang Makeover Championship

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75 American Mustangs Nets $233,000 for Mustang Heritage Foundation

Guy Woods

I thought this competition was so unique and Ray is an outstanding trainer

In a stunning display of horsemanship that included cracking whips, balloons and a chain saw, the inaugural Extreme Mustang Makeover came to a close in Fort Worth, Texas, with veteran cutting horse trainer Guy Woods taking the win and $10,000 during the freestyle finals performance, Saturday, September 22.

Facing 12 other finalists, Woods of Pilot Point, Texas, cracked a whip as he and his American Mustang Max loped around the arena in soft smooth circles, capturing the applause of a standing room only crowd at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center's Watt Arena as he jumped a series of three poles balanced on low barrels, followed by a higher jump. Judges Suzy Jeane, J.D. Yates, Bob Moorehouse and Chris Cox scored the duo a 288.

Prineville, Ore., native Kitty Lauman claimed the reserve championship and a check for $5,000 from sponsor Fort Dodge Animal Health with a score of 284.00 riding Ranger. Definitely a crowd favorite, Lauman maneuvered Ranger through a series of reining movements and then wowed the crowd with her shooting techniques as she galloped past a series of balloons, hitting all nine. In third place was Whitehall, Mont., cowboy Zane Davis, riding Algore, earning a score of 279.5 from the four judges. Davis and Algore deftly performed an expert snaffle bit reining pattern, but thrilled the spectators when Davis pulled out a rope with Algore tracking a steer for a nice clean stop.

All horses competing in the contest were evaluated on their body condition, as well as scored through a series of obstacles in an "in-hand" course, and in a "horse course" which was also a set pattern of maneuvers. A value of 20 percent was applied to the body conditioning, 30 percent in the in-hand and 50 percent for the horse course.

Woods, who has professionally trained cutting horses for almost 30 years and has won numerous National Cutting Horse Association honors, worked with Max at the end of almost every day after riding 15 other horses. "I'd work him after I got all my other horses ridden and for the first 60 days or so, it was challenging and a lot of fun. Then for the last 40 days, it was a matter of keeping him ridden and fine tuning a lot of the things we'd worked on."

Making the decision to take on the Extreme Mustang Makeover challenge wasn't a hard one for Woods, even though more than one of his cutting horse friends raised a skeptical eyebrow. "I wanted to do this because I thought it would be fun," he said. "When I left Australia and came to America, I was the top ranked youth rider in Victoria. Riding in this competition made me feel like a kid again."

Extreme Mustang Makeover Freestyle Finals Top Five

1.    Guy Woods, Pilot Point, Texas, riding Max. Score 288.
2.    Kitty Lauman, Prineville, Oregon, riding Ranger. Score 284.5.
3.    Zane Davis, Whitehall, Montana, riding Algore. Score 279.5.
4.    Eviga Aunina, Rock Springs, Wyoming, riding Wellington. Score 274.5.
5.    Dwight Bilyk, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, riding J4. Score 270.5.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover concluded September 23 with the adoption of all horses placed in the program.

When trainer Ray Ariss went off pattern during the "horse course" of the Extreme Mustang Makeover, giving him a zero for that portion of the competition, his hopes for representing his hometown of Norco, Calif., and displaying the talents of his American Mustang Hail Yeah were dashed, or so he thought. That was until Hail Yeah was adopted for $50,000 during the Extreme Mustang Makeover adoption process, taking the high-adopted horse of the adoption and the highest-adopting Mustang in the history of the Bureau of Land Management's adoption program.

But the gelding's adopters knew the horse's abilities, so offering the adoption fee was, well, a no brainer. Partnering on the fee was the City of Norco, Calif., represented by Mayor Harvey Sullivan and the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF).

Ariss had a lot riding on the exhibition of his horse. Sullivan had seen the first episode of the Extreme Mustang Makeover on RFD TV and approached Ray about representing Norco in its marketing focus as Horsetown USA. "I thought this competition was so unique and Ray is an outstanding trainer," said Sullivan, who traveled to Fort Worth to support Ariss and Hail Yeah. "When I return to Norco, we will be naming Hail Yeah the official mascot of the city and he will represent our message as Horsetown USA."

The second highest adopting horse was a Calico Mountain Mustang named Larry, trained by Dave Schaffner. Schaffner tragically suffered a serious riding accident on another horse shortly before the competition and was not able to compete. As a result, Larry was shown by Shaffner's son Tyler and was adopted for $10,000 by Mustangs Forever Inc.'s Randy Olson of Kerrville, Texas who was also the high-money adopter purchasing two horses for a total of $13,100. The after fee funds received for Larry will be donated to the Schaffner family to assist with medical bills.

Seventy-five Mustangs were adopted for a total of $233,100 for a sale average of $3,108. The Bureau of Land Management received $125 per head as the minimum adoption fee while the remainder was allocated for the development and programs of the Mustang Heritage Foundation. Trainers also received a 15 percent adoption commission for any horse adopted for a fee higher than $250.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover will also become a six-episode series on RFD Television's Wide World of Horses through December 2007. The show will share the stories of the mustangs and trainers as they learn to trust in one another and gain competitive confidence. The show will air future episodes October 22, November 19, December 17 and December 31. Airtimes for the series will be Mondays at 10:30 p.m., with additional airings on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. and Mondays at 4:30 p.m. All times are Eastern. RFD-TV can be found on Direct TV channel 379 and Dish Network channels 231 or 9049.

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