Jordan prepares for final horse hurrah at competition in June


Courtesy Gabby Jordan

Senior Gabby Jordan has been training Foxy, a wild mustang, for the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Lexington, Kentucky in June.

Carter Brannon, Staff Writer

Senior Gabby Jordan is competing in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a horse training competition which will be held at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky in June.

Since February, Jordan, an aspiring horse trainer who has worked with horses for many years, has been training and taming Foxy, the wild mustang she was given for the competition. Jordan works with Foxy at Symphony Hill Farm in Uxbridge, and both will be going to Kentucky in June.

The June competition in Kentucky is one of four 2019 Extreme Mustang Makeovers taking place across the United States. In May, another occurred in Ocala, Florida, and the others will be held in Los Angeles, California in August and Fort Worth, Texas in September.

The competition was created by a nonprofit organization called the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF), which has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management to manage wild horses on public land and remove them from the wild. Many of these horses are trained in the Mustang Makeover competitions.

“Having too many [horses] on the land is bad for the land, so they create these competitions for trainers to show off the versatility of these horses and their trainability, [and get them off of the land]” Jordan said.

Jordan has over 10 years of experience with horses.

“I’ve been riding horses since I was five, so I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Jordan said. “I work with a lot of different trainers of different disciplines.”

As well as having experience riding horses, Jordan also has experience training them.

“Throughout my life, I’ve worked with a lot of young horses [and] less experienced horses because those are the horses that are typically cheaper or other people don’t want to ride them or the more quirky horses,” Jordan said.

Last year Jordan bought her a first horse, a then 8 year-old off the track thoroughbred named Jax.

“I’m new to owning horses, but I’ve been working with horses for a long time,” Jordan said.

Jordan has been posting updates about her two horses on her Instagram (@gjequestrian) since May 2018.

Jordan was one of about 65 trainers selected for the Kentucky competition after applying for the program and undergoing a criminal background check to ensure the horses’ safety.

The competition involves three classes of evaluation: a handling and conditioning class, a basic maneuvering class and a trail class.

The handling and conditioning class is done “in hand,” which means the trainer is on the ground leading the horse through a course.

“You need be able to show that [the horse] can act like a normal, civilized horse,” Jordan said.  “You need to be able to lead them, brush them, put them on a trailer, all the different stuff that you might have to do with a horse day to day.”

The second maneuvers class is to demonstrate the horse can perform basic maneuvers such as walking, trotting, stopping and more. This is done “under saddle,” which means the trainer is riding the horse.

The trail class is an like an obstacle course. After these, the top ten will compete in freestyle with the winning trainer earning $25,000 in prize money and a belt buckle.

Jordan has been documenting her Mustang Makeover experience through social media and  video for her Innovations class. This class, taught by science teacher Dan Welty, allows students to choose projects based on their passions to improve themselves and the world.

“Hopefully her work can help out the next riders who do that challenge,” Welty said. “They can learn from her.”

Jordan says she has enjoyed the experience so far.

“I’m starting to get nervous about the competition and sad that it’s going to be over soon, but I’ve definitely learned a lot,” Jordan said. “I’ve had to really change my thought process throughout and how I go about things.”