Mustangs are our YourDressage Breed of the Month for June! Known for their wild and majestic spirit, these free-roaming horses are rounded up periodically to be sold to new homes where they will be tamed. These unique equines are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.
Dressage enthusiasts who ride Mustangs have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as The American Mustang & Burro Association Inc. is a Participating Organization.
We recently asked our social media followers to share stories about what makes these horses so special. Here, a Region 4 rider shares about Just Bob, a Mustang who started his career working with inmates in prison and is now an AdequanⓇ/USDF All-Breeds award winner.
By Natalie McTaggart
Just Bob is a 2005 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Mustang. Born in long-term holding after his dam was gathered from a Herd Management Area, he was gathered as a yearling and sent to Hutchinson Correctional Facility (HCF) in Hutchinson, Kansas. HCF is one of several holding facilities for the BLM, and is home to a very unique program. Inmates gentle and train wild mustangs and then proceed to find approved adopters to give these wonderful horses homes. Bob was one of these horses to have their start in prison. He was gentled and started as a 2-year-old, by an inmate, and had such an amazing personality that they quickly made him the program’s horse. He was to have a long life teaching new inmates how to handle horses and to ride. That was, until I came into the picture.
Dexter, who ran the program, is my papa and I spent many a day taking pictures and video for them to use at public events. Bob was always my mount when I visited, due to his steady attitude and willingness to put up with the cameras and my shenanigans. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him and would ask every time if I could adopt him. Two years later, he came home with me and started his new career in dressage and jumping. Bob was just five at the time and had no formal training in dressage. We had 30 days to prepare ourselves, and in May of 2010 we competed in our first show in combined training. He took everything in stride, like a pro that had been doing this for years. Nothing phased him and he was always up for a challenge. He not only was a champ in the show ring for me, but he was my go-to cow horse and worked long days with me pushing cattle at the local livestock auction. As the years went by, we started to focus more on dressage and kept his other activities to trail rides, promoting the mustang program at HCF, and being a big player in our “horseyball” games, played at the prison to get the mustangs ready to go to the Border Patrol Mounted Division.
Many different organizations fell in love with Bob and wanted to add him to their strings. Most notably was Fort Riley Commander’s Mounted Color Guard and Border Patrol. Bob showed many aspects that they desired in their horses; loyalty, stamina, intelligence, and the size and bone needed to hold up to rough terrain and long hours under saddle. While most mustangs are noted for being of a smaller size, but still retaining the bigger bone needed to run in the desert, Bob had the height needed to carry army troopers or border patrol officers. Standing at 15.3 hh, he had the long ground covering trot to cover miles of border, or to allow troopers and officers alike to hold the high ground in conflicts.
In 2019, we had made the jump to First Level and I had one goal set for the year – to chase a national ranking for Bob and I. The American Mustang and Burro Association, in partnership with USDF, gave us that chance. It was a trying year for us, we attended five shows that year, earning our scores to compete in the Great American/USDF Region 4 Championships, as well as the scores needed for an AdequanⓇ/USDF All-Breeds award. In September of 2019, at Maffitt Lake, we obtained the final scores needed and anxiously held our breath waiting for everyone’s scores to be recorded and posted. And once again, Just Bob just did it! We achieved the scores to earn the AdequanⓇ/USDF All-Breeds Champion placing for Mustangs. My dancing partner proved once again that pedigree didn’t matter, but what was in the heart.
Bob is 16 years old now, but he still rides like a colt. He is so full of energy and life, and the most loyal horse. He has carried me through hard times and great challenges, and is always there for me. While we have paused in our greater dancing, we still enjoy the challenge of the training and will make it back to the ring in 2022, hopefully. For now, we are enjoying the trails, have started back into jumping, and are currently learning how to pull a cart. Bob is the model for mustangs in having traits that make him excel in whatever we attempt: a willing attitude, endurance, fortitude, and loyalty to the one they have bonded to.