Dori Edwards, Global Animal Exclusive
NEW YORK — For years, the Bureau of Land Management has been using helicopters to corral and contain wild mustangs in order to claim their natural environment for industrial purposes. To raise awareness about the issue and promote adoption, the Mustang Heritage hosted a competition called the “Extreme Mustang Makeover” in which contestants take care of and train a mustang rescued from the government enforced holding pens.
One contestant, Summer Brennan, formed a special bond with her horse. Living on the oldest equine rescue in the United States, Little Brook Farm, and alongside 70 horses rescued from abuse and mistreatment, Summer was selected from a pool of applicants to work with a “completely wild mustang.”
Since Summer was a child, she has trained and worked with horses on her ranch in New York. Always fascinated with mustangs, when she heard of the competition, she thought “that’s it, I’m doing it.” Summer expressed that she “is not in favor of round-ups, but (she) wants to work with the ones that are there. They’ll be there for the rest of their lives.”
Her designated mustang, named Amado, was rescued from containment in California after a helicopter roundup in his homeland. It only took 24 hours before he became comfortable with Summer.
“I was planning to sit in the corner of his paddock until he was willing to make friends,” she said.
As part of the competition, after a mustang is trained, he is sold at an auction to bidding horse lovers. Not ready to let go of her new friend, Summer began fundraising so that she too could bid amongst the auction attendees. “He had to go up for auction, so I had to be the one who won,” shared Summer. With help from generous donors, Summer managed to be the highest bidder and Amado will forever take residence at Little Brook Farm.
When Summer told her and Amado’s touching story through photos for Photobucket’s “Life’s An Adventure” contest, she won the grand prize of $25,000. She is using her winnings to fund her family’s horse rescue. She laughed that “$25,000 will definitely buy hay for the year.”
She is very interested in doing more work with mustangs. “Amado has been really good at bringing awareness to them,” Summer expressed. She and Amado travel to different equestrian events and teach people about the current concern for wild horses. The duo recently went to an Equine Fair that had over 100,000 visitors. “All were able to pet him,” Summer saidd.
Summer and her mother, Lynn Cross, both are planning to expand awareness into schools. According to Cross, their farm is visited by thousands of animal lovers a year and they work with about 80 different schools and agencies.
“We have thousands of little animal advocates who’ve grown up and have gone to college,” said Cross.
They are currently trying to expand the education into more universities and teach people how to train them. In fact, the University of Massachusetts is sending an intern to Little Brook Farm in order to learn how to train a wild mustang.
Summer is currently entertaining the idea of entering into the “Mustang Million” competition, which is also hosted by Mustang Heritage and has a grand prize of $200,000.
Whether this competition lies in Summer’s future or not, we know that she has more great accomplishments awaiting her. She is a wonderful representative, role model and example for the animal community and Amado is lucky to have a family with she and Lynn Cross. As Summer stated, he would still be trapped in crowded containment if it were not for the competition.