The horse whisperers have come to Fort Worth to do what some would think is impossible: Transforming wild mustangs into trusted companions.
"It's amazing how sometimes they're a little afraid for you to touch them and make that contact, or there are certain places on them that they're shy about you touching, and then when they make that change and they wanna be with you, that's amazing to me," said Toby Gibbon, one of the trainers competing in the Extreme Mustang Makeover.
The Extreme Mustang Makeover is organized by the Texas-based non-profit Mustang Heritage Foundation. The national competition challenges trainers to transform the wild horses into adoptable companions in just 100 days.
Gibbon trained his first mustang three years ago and got hooked by the intelligence, loyalty and beauty of the breed.
"I really like seeing how the relationship develops, and it's a unique experience to deal with a horse that hasn't been exposed to people," Gibbon said. "It's a very special thing."
He'll show his eighth mustang during the competition in Fort Worth. The mustang he got back in May now his new skills and is ready to be adopted. The horse is living up to his name: Ima Boy Scout.
"He's pretty friendly. He tries to do whatever we ask him to do. So he's a Boy Scout," said Gibbon.
Gibbon hopes the transformation of Ima Boy Scout gets him into the Top 10, where he'll compete for a $50,0000 prize. Gibbon has made it to Top 10 four other times, but this time he'll face more competitors than ever. More than 100 trainers are in the competition — the largest Extreme Mustang Makeover of the year.
In addition to being the grand finale and the largest competition on the 2017 tour, the Fort Worth EMM event will also debut the America's Mustang Experience.
Visitors can learn about mustangs and celebrate this symbol of the American spirit in the 40-foot interactive trailer with videos and information about American mustangs and the public lands on which they live.
The EMM runs Sept. 14-16 at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth.
Extreme Mustang Makeover is produced by the Mustang Heritage Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse & Burro Program. It's open to the public to help locals learn about and interact with wild horses to ensure healthy herds and rangelands for the future.