Animals & Wildlife Magazine

2014 Extreme Rescue Makeover Write up

By Elkgrovemilling

​Tears of joy streamed down my face. Hugs poured in from family, friends, and fellow contestants. The results of the 2014 Extreme Rescue Makeover had just been announced and I was clutching a Second Place trophy. I couldn’t be any happier. As the celebration wound down and a multitude of pictures had been taken, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the wild ride I had been on with a wild mustang.
​I had been around horses a little bit at a young age; tagging along with my older sister as she took riding lessons. Two years ago, my life changed forever. At the time, I was battling depression and had tried a vast array of medications and treatments prescribed by doctors. Nothing seemed to help. One day, I accompanied my niece to a her gymkhana lessons and stood there in awe as I watched this tiny ten year old girl work alongside, and on top of, a gentle giant. Her trainer, Mindy Konradi, was also the operator of a Therapeutic Riding Academy for disabled children. As I continued to attend the gymkhana lessons, I began to notice a change in my outlook on life. I began volunteering at the Therapeutic Riding Academy and found that I was beginning to win the fight against depression as I spent more and more time around horses.
​In 2013, Mindy Konradi participated and won the Extreme Rescue Makeover. The program rescues wild mustangs and saves them from slaughter. Horses thought to be unadoptable are given to trainers who are tasked with the responsibility of teaching these wild animals to trust humans and live in as they described, “Humanville.” I knew that horses had changed my life and I wanted to do the same for them. I threw my hat into the ring- or more appropriately the arena- and entered the 2014 Rescue Makeover.
​In January of 2014, I was the first person in line at the Horse Plus Humane Society’s headquarters in Oroville to find the perfect match for the Extreme Rescue Makeover. I quickly came across Roscoe. Roscoe is a 2 ½ year old Mustang who had never been touched by a human. He had recently been rescued from the Virginia Range in Nevada. Immediately upon seeing Roscoe, I knew that our lives would change forever.
​Roscoe was small, skinny, malnourished, and his coat was very shaggy. I teamed with Elk Grove Milling and Roscoe was placed on a diet which primarily consisted of Stable Mix. In just five short months, Roscoe had grown taller, filled out, and sported a beautiful shiny coat. On the day of the final competition, Roscoe drew praise from dozens of people for his new-found physique, his playful and gentle demeanor, and his gorgeous appearance. He also drew great commendations from the veterinarian at the competition. Roscoe not only looked good, but he was a completely healthy horse that stood motionless as the veterinarian performed a very complete examination. In becoming a healthy and handsome horse, Roscoe had completed one aspect of his transformation from, “A Wild Mustang,” to, “A Human’s Companion.”
​As the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, Roscoe and I worked tirelessly on everything from footwork and simple commands to complex tasks which would ultimately aid in him earning a Second Place finish. By the end of the fifth month, Roscoe had mastered ground work, walking through a cowboy curtain, trotting over cavalettis, negotiating narrow lanes full of empty plastic bottles, and even jumping over barrels. As with all great athletes, Roscoe stumbled a little during the Freestyle Event. Roscoe, overcome with nervousness, froze when we were supposed to ride onto a shipping crate. We bypassed the obstacle and continued with the rest of the routine which ended with Roscoe trotting as he followed me across the arena. Not wanting to leave Roscoe or the crowd disappointed, I got back into the saddle and took Roscoe back to the shipping crate. Although he was still nervous, his trust in me prevailed and we scaled the crate. The crowd erupted and I was overcome with a sense of joy and accomplishment.
​It’s been less than a week since the 2014 Extreme Rescue Makeover ended and I’m still in shock over how Roscoe performed. As the messages and photos pour into Roscoe’s Facebook page, I can’t help but travel back in time throughout our experience. Seeing Roscoe transform from a shaggy horse which nobody wanted to a magnificent companion has been the experience of a lifetime. I began this journey wanting to teach and train a horse. As I look back, I realize it was Roscoe that did the teaching and me the learning. He taught me more about patience, trust, and teamwork than I ever thought possible. This experience would not have been as rewarding, let alone possible, if not for the support of my family, friends, and sponsors. Roscoe and I thank you all for the ride.


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