Emma Minteer lays on "Chinks" back on Day 20, preparing to put a saddle on him for the first time.
Genesee Valley Hunt
From wild mustang to showhorse
There’s a contest for just about everything these days, but have you ever heard of the Extreme Mustang Makeover?
It’s a 90 day challenge to train a wild mustang for competition and it’s held in various locations across the country.
One of the show’s contestants, trainer Emma Minteer, will be at the Genesee Valley Hunt Races this Saturday with Chinks, her six-year old dun gelding she trained for the August competition in Dream Park, N.J. Minteer and Chinks took fifth place.
Minteer and her husband Jack own and operate Rose Hill Ranch where they provide a variety of equine services, including colt starting, clinics, boarding, training and more.
The couple has two children, two and a half year old Riley and one year old Levi. They live in Branchport but later this month they are moving to Italy Valley near Naples where they plan to expand their equine services.
Having grown up in Rushville and riding horses since the age of two, Minteer has been training horses for some time.
She wanted to participate in the Extreme Mustang Competition but it was usually held out west. When she read in a horse magazine that a competition was coming to New Jersey, she immediately sent in her application.
The Minteers drove to Virginia on May 5 to pick up the wild Mustang that would be Emma’s project for the next 90 days or so.
“As we pulled in, we saw a little dun in a pen all by himself. I said, man, that would be so cool if that was my horse!
We walked over to the table to fill out the necessary paperwork when they said, “Your horse is No. 2,748, the six- year-old dun gelding in that pen over there.”
I felt like a little kid when I heard that! I was so excited! He was perfect. Yeah, maybe half of his right ear was missing and part of his left nostril (we think from another stallion from his free ranging days), but I loved him anyways,” Minteer said.
The only other information provided about the horse was that he came from a herd in California and was captured in October 2011 and brought to Virginia.
The horses are so unaccustomed to being around people that the only way to get the horse onto the trailer was to back into a shoot and as soon as the horse was loaded, they quickly shut the door.
They made the trip home to Rose Hill Ranch and when they arrived, the Mustang didn’t want to come off the trailer and when he did, he walked around just checking out his new surroundings.
Minteer held a Facebook contest to choose a name for the horse. Chinks was his new name. That same night Minteer began working with him. She stepped inside his pen.
“Chinks is nothing like I thought he was going to be. I was expecting to get a plain, bay horse that would bite, kick and strike at me. But no, he was the total opposite of what I thought! He was so calm (to a point) that my second day working him, I was able to get him to approach me and touch my hand. I can’t tell you how excited I was! On day three, I was able to stroke and pet him all over on his right side,” Minteer explained.
Twelve days into the training he allowed her to put a halter on him.
“Day 12 putting the halter on him was a huge break through,” Minteer said.
In the following weeks to come she spent six to eight hours a day with Chinks. Slowly she earned the horse’s trust to where he allowed her to lay on his back and by Day 19, she was able to put a saddle on him and sit on his back.
“I laid all over him numerous times and I had saddled him more times than I can count, had stepped into the stirrup a few times, but hadn’t actually sat on him. But it was time. I felt like he was ready for such a huge milestone. I made sure my cinch was good and tight, and I swung a leg over. Success! All of my hard work and hours upon hours had paid off! This was one of my proudest moments in my life,” Minteer proudly said.
Twenty-three days into the training she saddled Chinks up for a trail ride.
“I could tell that he was getting bored, it was time to exercise his mind. He did absolutely wonderful,” she commented.
Minteer said that horses communicate through body language and that is what they relate to best. The way to earn a horse’s trust is to use his body language, says Minteer. The horse and trainer read each other’s body language for long hours in the arena, day after day.
“When you spend six to eight hours a day telling him it’s okay, you can trust me, you are creating a bond,” explained Minteer.
Chinks and Minteer formed a trusting bond, so much so that she brought her two-year old daughter Riley around him.
“I trusted him, he never once showed any signs of aggression.”
In the weeks prior to the competition Minteer trained Chinks in the maneuvers that she would ask him to perform in the Extreme Mustang Makeoever competition, which include the basics of walk, trot, stops, turn arounds, etc. The competition was held Aug. 10 and 11.
“The last week before the competition I was pushing him, trying to perfect everything. I also rode him a lot when we got there and he was getting a little sour, but I didn’t blame him,” Minteer remarked.
She had several props all planned out for Chinks to use in the competition. One of them was a large tractor tire that Chinks would drag around. He got spooked during one of the practices; Minteer fell off and Chink stepped on her several times, leaving both of them very shaken up but unharmed. Fortunately it did not stop the trainer/ride and her horse from giving a great performance.
The competition is sponsored by the Mustang Heritage Foundation. It’s purpose is to showcase the beauty, versatility and trainability of these rugged horses that roam freely on public lands throughout the west.
The Bureau of Land Management manages the herd and periodically removes a number of these horses and through programs like Extreme Mustang Makeover, they are adopted out to the public through an auction at the end of the competition with the proceeds benefiting the foundation.
Minteer could not let Chinks go anywhere but right back to Western New York and Rose Hill Ranch so she bought him for $1,100. Next year’s Extreme Mustang Makeover is again taking place in New Jersey and Minteer says she plans to participate again.
This Saturday, you can meet Minteer and Chinks at the Genesee Valley Hunt Races on Nations Road in Geneseo.
Minteer will give two demonstrations at noon and 3 p.m.