Truck, hooked up and ready to go –  Check. Dog – Check. Mustang – Double Check. Trainer, Excited yet Calm – Triple Check. Load up, Ft. Collins here we come! The Hideout entourage (Ramon, Maricella, their kids, Marijn, AJ & Deidre) headed off to Ft. Collins, CO to get checked-in and settled in for the first day of the Extreme Mustang Makeover (EMM). After 90 days of training it was finally the weekend everyone has been waiting for. The support from guests has just been unparalled and Team Hideout rolled out knowing that the full support of those who could not make it followed with them on the journey.

Pulling into the B.W. Pickett Arena a collective sigh was heard from all followed by the check-in which was organized and smooth. All the contestants are being housed in the branding stables of the Colorado State University (CSU) Equine Research Facility. The stable is impressive. After Ramon did all the paperwork, Castro was unloaded, paint branded with a hip number (6) and settled into his stall. For a horse who has never been in an indoor stable area (or housed in a stall) he was calm and steady- the same can’t be said of all the mustangs. An objective (and opinionated) critiquing session from our group, found the rest of the mustangs to be an impressive variety in horse confirmations and colorings. About 90% of the mustangs were small and narrow chested. In comparison to most, Castro is well muscled and overall well-built, a biased Hideout oppinion would say there are only a handful of the mustangs that match him in the looks department.

 At five o’clock there was a trainers meeting. Once all the rules, regulations, and formal introductions were made it was off to the arena for a 30sec self-introduction to judges and audience and 90sec “performance” by each competitor. This competition is the flagship (so to speak) for the EMM to have a “team competition.” In the team competition, Al Dunning and Ken McNabb would be acting as “coaches” for Team A and Team B. In the 90sec performance each competitor would show off what they could bring to the table and the coaches would decide if they wanted that rider on their “team”.

The riders went in hip number order. Hip #1 scratched, and we were surprised to see that not all the trainers are able to even ride their horses. Ramon introduced himself in an ever dashing fashion: taking off his hat, thanking the arena for the opportunity and saying what an amazing experience this has been. And then it began. Words can’t explain our teams feeling watching Ramon and Castro in those 90seconds. Ramon started with the beginning of a reining pattern. Flying lead changes were performed in stunning execution followed by several beautiful stops. Man and horse were one. Man and horse ended by executing two reining circles. When the trainers in the arena watching let out some hoots in appreciation, you know something is happening. Marijn, AJ & Deirdre were breathless and all grinning from ear to ear. We have a winner in Ramon and Castro. 

Based on the overall performances of the day I would say that we can preliminarily pick who the top 8 are. Some of the competitors will be a force to be reckoned with and it won’t be a walk in the park. However, I would say that Ramon is without a doubt the best horseman in the arena. He has a connection with his horse like something akin to “Avatar” – they are plugged in together. It is amazing and I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the performances as the days progress.

 Tomorrow morning is the “Coach’s Workout” and we will find out which team Ramon is on and with what coach. 1pm is the Individual Competition in the Reining and Trail Course. It is a big day, we are all excited but not nervous. We are confident. We are confident in our trainer and in our mustang.

 More to come…(For more on the event visit and click on Ft. Collins link)