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What is an American BLM mustang?

An American BLM mustang is a wild horse on public land that is managed by the BLM. The current opinion is that in order to let the mustangs sustainably live in the wild, it is necessary to reduce the stock. Instead of killing the 'excess animals', the horses are caught and registered. As with all horse breeds, each mustang receives a registration document and a freeze brand on the left side of its neck.


What are the BLM mustangs' origins?

The roots of the American mustang can be traced back to the 15th century. At that time the Spanish settled on the American continent with their native horses. A short time later, a European export ban was imposed to protect the horse population in Europe. For this reason Arabian and Barb horses were crossed in America to further meet the need for horses. These horses later ran wild in the vastness of the country and still today descendants of these horses can be tracked roaming in herds.


What are the characteristics of the American mustang?

The American mustang is a special kind of horse. To survive in the wild, it has characteristics that have been lost in many overbred sport horse breeds. Mustangs are mostly horses with a distinct social behavior, perspicacious and very honest to humans and other horses. The special thing about these horses is that, after a successful training, they trust the human, respect them and work together in an almost magical way. Their fearlessness and calmness make them absolutely exceptional horses. In America, the mustang is used in all areas of riding. There, the breed is not only successful in Western riding but also in eventing, show jumping and dressage. Trail and endurance riders also enjoy the horses very much.


What is the size of the mustang?

140 cm - 160 cm or 13.3 - 15.3 hands


Are mustangs more intelligent than domesticated breeds?

The ferocity of their ancestors leaves traces. mustangs are very intelligent animals as it is a prerequisite for survival. Mustangs differ greatly from other horses. Especially the wild BLM mustang often lives without human contact for generations. According to many trainers, this gives them an advantage during training because they are very adaptable. All in all, mustangs have a different relationship to their environment than, for example, domesticated breeds whose ancestors have been shaped by humans for centuries.Mustangs caught from the wild can usually be trained within few days. In our event we want to prove this, present you these great horses in all areas of equestrian sport.


For whom is the mustang suitable?

The mustang is suitable for anyone who is interested in working with the horse in a humane way. Experienced people can find a friend for life in the mustang.


What is natural selection?

Natural selection is the reproduction of a species (here the mustang) without human influence. The stronger stallion will prevail and inherit. Weaker animals become extinct. For this reason, mustangs are considered to be extremely resistant and willing to perform.




How many mustangs do currently live in holding facilities?

At present, about 46,000 wild mustangs and burros are already living in holding facilities, waiting for their chance to get adopted.


How does the American mustang live today?

Today, about 70,000 wild mustangs and burros still live freely on the land provided by the government. Due to the barren soil, the land is sparsely vegetated, so that the animals have to travel long distances in search of food. This and the natural selection have kept the horses very robust and healthy.However, in recent years the number of mustangs has increased so much that the ratio of mustangs to available grazing land is imbalanced. In order to protect the mustang, the BLM is forced to regularly catch some of the mustangs and place them into holding facilities. An adoption program is used to try giving the horses a new home.


Why do they not let the mustang live in freedom?

The situation of the mustangs in the wild is not easy nowadays. They are only allowed to graze a certain area of the vast lands of America. Predators like the mountain lion have been successfully expelled by humankind, so that the herds multiply too extensively. Whenever the herds become too large, the US government is forced to catch animals out of those herds for their own protection. In our opinion, it is the humans' duty to preserve those wild animals that we limit through fences, roads and industry. Water scarcity plays an important role today. According to research, the available area can only accommodate and feed 27,000 animals. Currently, 70,000 mustangs and burros live in the wild.


Freedom vs. holding facility

Of course the wild horses have a species-appropriate life but that does not automatically mean a simple and comfortable one. They have to travel many kilometers every day and droughts and water scarcity make life difficult for the animals. 46,000 horses and burros are already in holding facilities. They have been caught due to overpopulation and are looking for a new home. The journey to Germany is worthwhile for these horses.


Does castration solve the problems?

The mustang stallions are castrated immediately after capture. There are also geldings in the wild. However, this does not change the fact that there are still almost twice as many horses living on range as the area can accommodate according to research. There is no possibility to enlarge the area dedicated to the wild equines. By birth control the government tries to manage population growth. However, this is very costly. And also stressful because the herds have to be captured annually in order to treat the mares with the vaccine called PZP.


Were the event horses of the MUSTANG MAKEOVER captured from the wild specifically for the event?

No. The mustangs that are selected for the event are not caught from the wild but are already in holding facilities.




What are the goals of MUSTANG MAKEOVER?

We would like to draw attention to the situation of the mustangs and increase the awareness for these special horses. These are the primary goals. The focus of this event, however, is also on imparting knowledge about the topics horse training and horse health, promoting a fair and trusting relationship with equines and creating a platform for riders from all equestrian disciplines. We would also like to arouse interest in the adoption/purchase of a mustang and inform about important facts.


Are mustangs declared fair game?

The mustangs are under state protection and may not be shot down. There is also a general slaughter ban on horses in the USA. The legally required adoption year additionally protects the mustang because anyone who has trained, fed and cared for a horse for one year will not simply take it to a slaughterhouse in Mexico or Canada afterwards. Today more and more mustangs are awarded as Sale Authorized Horse. For this they must not have found a home in 3 auctions or adoption events. These horses are available for sale and there is no control after the purchase. Whether such a horse ends up in a slaughterhouse in Mexico or Canada is uncertain.


What awaits me at Mustang Makeover?

Judged according to harmonious principles, trust and fair play, the mustang and trainer teams compete at the event to present these special horses. Our inspiration was the American Extreme Mustang Makeover. However, the German MUSTANG MAKEOVER goes beyond by focusing on humane treatment and trust in the mustangs' training and by imparting knowledge as much as possible. In 2019, 15 outstanding European trainers will present these unique and wonderful horses on the CHIO grounds in Aachen after 100 days of training. They will show in the breathtaking finale how adjustable and intelligent the mustangs are.


What does "from wild to mild" mean?

True to the motto "from wild to mild", the various trainers train their horses, always with the aim of promoting and supporting harmony and trust. These are the guidelines according to which the competition is judged. It is not about the most well-trained horse but rather about partnership and fair play.


What training do the mustangs undergo in Germany?

All horses are trained at their own pace. Each trainer has his/her own methods and elements, which he/she will teach to "his/her" mustang. We entrust the horses to the trainers and know that each individual will train " his/her " mustang to the best of his/her knowledge.We do not require the trainers to have a minimum training level to participate in the event. We have decided to evaluate the entire competition on harmony and fair play. This way it is possible to give the mustang trainer teams the necessary time to practice exercises in tranquility. The pressure in the competition is reduced. If a horse seems insecure in a test of the Trainer Challenge, it is permitted and also desired by the organizers to present the situation again from the ground and to give the horse the opportunity to complete the test on a positive note.


Are there not enough horses in Germany?

The diversity of horse breeds in Germany is based on the fact that different breeds have always been imported from abroad. The American mustang has properties that have been lost in the overbred horse breeds of our time. One particular difference is that the breeding of horses in Germany is man-made reproduction, while the mustang reproduces naturally. The import of the mustang is therefore not about the number of horses in Germany but rather about the diversity of species.



How does the mustang travel to Germany?

All mustangs are imported via airplane. Many imports have shown us that the mustang is a very quiet passenger. The horses are innately adaptable and after being loaded onto the transport containers wait patiently until they arrive in Germany.


What exactly happens to the mustangs after the event? Does that justify the trip?

The mustangs find a new home through the auction at the end of the event. The event horses represent 46,000 horses and burros in the holding facilities. Through the attention they draw to the situation of the mustangs, we are sure that more horses will have a good future in Germany. The event horse buyers of 2017 are all very pleased with their new partners and they agree that these animals are something very special.


Is it not too stressful for the horses to be imported and then trained for 3 months?

The mustangs are very adaptable horses. Many mustangs have already been imported to Germany and we have received confirmation again and again that they are very quiet on the flight and that there are no problems whatsoever. Since our event is judged based on trust, harmony and fair play, there is no minimum training progress and we see no difficulties for the horses. We have a very good team of trainers who treat the horses with respect and fair play. In the end, it is not the horse with the most training that wins, but the most harmonious team. The alternative for the individual horse is to stand in the holding facility and possible wait for many years to be adopted. In the holding facility, the horse cannot be helped in the event of illness, as it is not used to humans handling it. Besides, there have already been experiments in which well-trained mustangs have been released into the wild but decided against life in freedom in favor of staying with their owner.


Why can the horses already be haltered?

The mustangs have to be haltered and have to be led in prepared corridors by a trusted person. However, the horses are not used to being haltered and do not know any strangers. Loading and standing in narrow alleyways is also practiced with the animals in preparation of their flight. The trainers in Germany have to earn the horses' trust again because the mustangs do not know them yet. The insecurity towards strangers then resolves with further training.Until our team of European top trainers takes over, our US trainer accompanies the horses on their flight in order to offer the horses the greatest possible comfort and safety.


Why do you 'prepare' the mustangs?

'Prepared', they are no longer green! They are prepared for import by an experienced mustang trainer in order to import them as stress-free as possible. They have already been guided by this trainer through highly fenced paths or in a round pen with an assistant. They can neither be touched on the neck, legs, stomach and back, nor has further training taken place in the USA.


How do the trainers get to "their" mustangs?

At the end of April, there will be a draw where the horses will be assigned to the trainers. There will be groups sorted by size to prevent that a big (heavy) trainer gets a very dainty, small horse. The American mustangs will be imported to Germany at the end of April for the MUSTANG MAKEOVER 2019. These horses were caught due to overpopulation and have since lived in a sanctuary in Oregon waiting for their chance. Currently, an excellent mustang trainer in the US is carefully familiarizing these horses with humans. The horses are haltered and prepared for import via airplane. The transport is not a big problem for the mustang. The trainers welcome "their" mustang at the airport and take them home for 100 days to train the horse in a horse-friendly way.


What is the difference to the Extreme Mustang Makeover in the USA?

In America the horses are trained as much as possible in 90-100 days. There, training progress counts. This is different in Germany because our event is judged based on trust, harmony and fair play, there is no minimum training progress and we see no difficulties for the horses. We have a very good team of trainers who treat the horses with respect and fair play. In the end, it is not the horse with the most training that wins, but the most harmonious team. This is different from other competitions. A real alternative. The challenges at the event in 2018 consisted of a 'handling' test in which the teams have to prove their suitability for everyday use, a ridden test for the 'adult' mustangs, a trail which shows how deep the trust of the mustangs is to 'their human' and the highlight of the event, the freestyle finale.


Is there a prize money?

Yes, the prize money is 5,000 Euro.


For how much do the horses sell at the auction?

The starting bid is 7,500 Euro. However, after 100 days of training the horse's value is above 10,000 Euro if you calculate the import costs of approximately 7,000 Euro and the training of the horse at about 1,000 Euro per month. Here, one should consider that the trainers invest considerably more time in 'their' mustang than in a normal horse they train. A part of the proceeds goes to the IG MUSTANG e.V., a non-profit organization strives to take care of the horses in the holding facilities in the USA, the other part goes back to the trainer.


When will the auction take place?

The auction will take place after the finale on 25.8.2018. Interested parties must consult and register with the organizers of the event, at best in advance but the latest at the event. After a successful registration and consultation with the organizers, the bidder can get to know the horse of interest at the trainer's.


How do you know the mustangs are in good hands after publicly actioning them off?

Interested parties should register and consult with American Mustang Germany in advance. In addition, the horses are slowly transitioned into their new homes. Trainer, owner and mustang will get to know each other and optimally prepare for taking the mustang home. Due to the large media coverage, the potential buyers are usually interested at an early stage of the makeover. Because of this, they have the chance to visit and get to know the mustang at the trainer's facilities before the event. All our trainers dedicated to 'their' mustang finding a good home. This is why they offer open trainings, consultations and individual appointments with potential buyers.


When do I have to pick up the mustang?

The trainers will gladly take your mustang back to their own facilities. Like this, the trainers offer you the opportunity to get to know your new horse in a relaxed atmosphere. It is important to all trainers to make the transition into the new home as easy as possible for the mustang and its new owner. Because one thing is close to everyone's heart: The mustang and its human partner should be brought together for a lifelong partnership.


How do I know if a mustang is right for me and can I get to know it? 

Through the many pictures, videos and information on our homepage and Facebook page (Mustang Makeover Germany) you can get a good impression of the Mustangs. You can also follow the training of the mustangs on the trainers' pages. If you want to learn more about a specific mustang, you can contact the respective trainer, get advice and get to know the mustang personally. A get-together with the trainer MUST be announced to the organizer ( and presupposes a valid registration as a bidder.


Is there a pre-purchase vet check?

Each potential buyer can have his own veterinarian in Aachen or have a vet check carried out at the trainer's in advance. From will be responsible as The event veterinarian will be the vets of the Klinik Lichtenbuch ( They can conduct a pre purchase exam on Saturday evening. The costs are to be carried by the bidder. We ask the potential bidders to register with the organizer. We also ask you to join up if several persons want to have the same horse examined. This reduces the stress of having the horse examined several times and saves the individual money.


How exactly does the auction work?

Previous to the auction, every interested party must register online for the auction or register at the Mustang Makeover booth at the latest on Sunday. Every registered bidder then receives a bidder's number. With this number he/she can bid on "his/her" mustang during the auction by holding up the number high so it is clearly visible. If you are the highest bidder, a form is signed on the spot with which you go to the registration office to pay.


How can I pay for my horse?

The horse will be paid for directly after the auction. The payment can be made in cash or by card. There is a minimum down payment of 5,500 Euro . The buyer should make sure in advance that he/she has enough money and that higher amounts can be debited from his/her account.


What happens after the auction? Do I have to take my horse with me right away?

After the auction, the horse can be taken back to its trainer. Please inquire in advance about the possibilities of the individual trainers. This will allow you and the horse to get to know each other in a more relaxed manner and to hand over the horse more smoothly. It is important for all trainers to make the transition to the new home for the mustang and the owner as easy as possible. You may also decide to leave the horse in the trainer's care for even longer. Please discuss this with the trainer in advance. If you want to take the horse directly with you, you as the owner are of course free to do so. All horses must have left the CHIO grounds by 10 a.m. on Monday.


As the owner of a mustang, should I pay attention to something special?

In order to become a great partner for the mustang, the future owner should consult with the trainer to ensure the best possible transition for the horse. In addition, the owner should consider in advance where he/she wants to keep the horse, whether he/she has a trainer on site for further training or whether he/she would like to give the horse some time to stay with its event trainer. Further information can be found here