Meet a mustang in training today


Mustang makeover

Horses and people can socialize with Smokin’ Joe from 8 a.m. to noon today at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Posse arena, 648 25 Road, north of Patterson Road.

Jim Rogers of Rangely has trained a lot of horses in the past three decades, but his latest job is a labor of love.

About three months ago, Rogers received the compact 4-year-old bay gelding mustang and named him Smokin’ Joe. The wild mustang had just been gathered from public land in the Jackson Mountains of Utah. The mustang, which stands 14 hands high, had never been ridden.

Rogers, who signed up for the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition, would have 90 days to work his training magic.

“Like any mustang, you have to build their trust,” Rogers said. “At first, when I put him in the round pen he came after me. I stood my ground. If you back off, then you’ve lost.”

Since those first days, Rogers and Smokin’ Joe have grown to trust each other, training for about four hours a day.

Rogers will take Smokin’ Joe to Fort Collins the weekend of June 11 for Extreme Mustang Makeover. In an effort to get his horse more accustomed to people, the two will be at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Posse arena until noon this morning. Members of the local Friends of the Mustangs group also will be there.

Rogers said he believes he and his horse have a chance at winning the event, which includes competitions in riding, how a horse works with cows and trail riding. The aim of the competition and exposure for wild mustangs is to find good homes for the animals. People can bid on the mustangs after the competition.

If he can afford the bidding process, Rogers said he would like to purchase Smokin’ Joe.

Trainers receive up to $700 as reimbursement for their work and veterinarian bills, a small price for the long hours.

After being laid off from working on a pipeline job, Rogers said he’s been lucky to have the extra amount of free time to work with Smokin’ Joe.

Rogers said the exposure to more people and horses could help his horse become more socialized and give him a boost at the competition.

“If you come out to the arena, he has these defense mechanisms and will act like he’s mad at you,” Rogers said. “They’re used to being in the wild and having to keep an eye out for predators. You have to let them know they’re not food and it’s all right to be around people.”


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