The Montana Mustang Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) Challenge is looking for competitors for the upcoming 2023 event. The challenge is designed to help mustangs and burros gathered off of public lands in the U.S. to find permanent homes by showcasing their abilities through a competition show. The event is scheduled for Aug. 19 at the Big Sky Horse Park in Missoula, Mont.
Horses selected for the Montana challenge this year will be coming from the Maverick-Medicine Herd Management Area in Nevada. The horses were recently gathered in Nevada and will be at a holding facility in Utah before coming to Montana.
Event competitors will be able to select a horse from an available list that they are willing to train for the next 100 days. The 2022 Montana Mustang TIP Challenge drew 35 trainers and the event is hoping for a similar number in 2023. The deadline for trainer applications was the end of April, but some extensions are available.
The event is geared towards those with some training experience who enjoy helping a horse through the gentling process, according to event coordinator Christine Herman.
“This event is really open to trainers and horse people of all abilities who are interested in taking a wild, unhandled horse and helping them gain basic skills within 100 days,” Herman said. “This is an excellent place to help a horse get ready for domestic life.”
The challenge includes several levels of competition from the most basic handling and conditioning class where horses need to be halter broke, able to be groomed, and have all four feet picked up and loaded into a trailer. Other classes include an obstacle trail course where horses will be asked to do things like go over a bridge, side pass over poles, and work around obstacles. A freestyle class also allows trainers to show off what the horse is really good at and often include a theme or music. No riding is done in any of the event classes.
People are also reading…
“This is really a fun show that allows you to try out your skills,” Herman shared. “This is a good show for anyone with horse experience who is willing to invest the time to help a horse get ready for their new family. The people involved in this challenge are there to help each other and it doesn’t have the stress of the big competitions.”
Those interested in participating as a trainer in the event need to be able to meet the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requirements for “adopting” a wild horse or burro. Requirements include certain types/height of fencing, shelter requirements, and references stating the applicant’s horse experience. A small adoption fee is also required.
At the event, the trainer can choose to keep the mustang or burro for their own use or can make the horse available for “reassignment” to a new adoptee. New adoptees must be able to meet BLM housing/fencing requirements and apply to adopt the horse through the agency.
“The trainers can choose to keep the horse for themselves, or they may ask for a trainer fee if the horse is available to be adopted,” Herman shared.
The TIP challenges are an important way to help wild horses move from holding pens to stable homes where they can adjust to domestic life.
“These horses could sit in a holding facility for a long time until they are adopted,” Herman shared. “Although the BLM has adoption events throughout the year, the horses at those events are totally green and unhandled. These challenges help the horses to have a basic level of abilities that help them have a good start on being handled and ready for the next step.”
For more information, visit the Montana Mustang TIP Challenge 2023 page on Facebook or e-mail Herman at: email@example.com.