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The Mustang Heritage Spectacular Is That and So Much More in Franklin

by Rich and Laura Lynch

"Bring Mustangs Home" was the motto of the Mustang Heritage Spectacular that took place at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park in Franklin, Tennessee June 20 through 23, 2024. The event was organized by the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF). This multi-day horse fest featured a wide array of activities and an auction with all raising awareness and funds to support the worthy work of MHF.

At the Mustang Heritage Spectacular in Franklin, Tennessee.

Established in 2001, the Mustang Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to help wild horses and burros. Their goal is to increase the number of successful adoptions of animals that are currently in BLM holding pens. Since its inception, MHF has placed thousands of mustangs and burros into private care. On average, this has helped save the U.S. taxpayer more than $162 million each year.

One of the most effective ways to "Bring Mustangs Home" is a program called the "Extreme Mustang Makeover". The first was held in 2007 in Fort Worth, Texas, where 100 trainers who had each spent 100 days working with wild horses then competed in friendly competitions to demonstrate that mustangs could be trained and thrive in a more domesticated environment.

Saturday night's winning performance was turned in by Bobby Kerr and friends.

The concept was highly successful and soon became the talk of the horse industry. Today, "Extreme Mustang Makeover" events are held across the country throughout the year impressing equine enthusiasts with the trainability of the American Mustang.

The Mustang Heritage Spectacular in Tennessee showcased the beauty and versatility of American Mustangs. The event consisted of the Celebrity Freestyle Challenge, the "Extreme Mustang Makeover" and a very entertaining Mustang Heritage Foundation Open Show.

Earlier in the afternoon was a high-stakes and exciting auction as the glorious animals found their forever homes with folks who had filled out an application and talked with trainers about the horse(s) they were interested in advance of the bidding that took place on the 22nd. A few of the trainers were able to adopt the very animals that they had obviously grown attached to.

Fans celebrated America and the American Mustang all week in Mid-Tenn.

In addition to all the mustang centric activities were many diverse vendors. Quite a few were selling horse related products. Yet, there were plenty of items for folks who were at the Mustang Heritage Spectacular to take in the action but not planning on adopting a horse as not everyone is in a position to "bring a mustang home". Still, all can certainly appreciate these majestic animals and the dedication of all the people associated with MHF.

Some of the high-quality vendors were Cavalry Wellness, Five Star Pickels & Sausage and Tim West Photography from nearby White House who were selling photographs of wild horses that they had visited on remote BLM lands over the past few years. There were also a number of non-profits reminding folks of the healing power of horses.

The Mustang Heritage Spectacular showcased the grace and beauty of these rescued horses.

We also met Freddie from our old New Jersey stomping grounds who was selling his newly launched Dusty Rose Coffee Roasters. He told us his compelling story about being inspired by a horse name Dusty Rose in New York. His mission as his slogan says is - 'Rescuing Horses, One Cup at a Time' - with the added benefit of helping coffee farmers from around the world with each and every sale.

The long list of organizations on the concourse also included: Freedom Reigns Ranch who serve the youth of Middle Tennessee with mentorship programs and is involved in equine rescue; Heroes and Horses Healing Inc. offers free equine assisted therapy for vets and their families; and, Soulstang who also assists vets along with first responders with opportunities to interact with horses as a form of therapy.

Devon O'Day, Emery Pearce, Gary Holt and Sarah Beth Terry in Franklin.

Also spotted was reigning Teen Miss Rodeo Tennessee Emery Pearce who took a few minutes to sign autographs and meet the fans. Another talented lady was Sarah Beth Terry who was on duty all weekend long - singing the National Anthem and performing her Mustang Heritage theme song for attendees in the arena.

One of the major highlights of Mustang Heritage Spectacular was the "Celebrity Freestyle Challenge". This program featured award winning trainers with tons of experiences competing to win a number one spot and purse. Although all were winners for being in Franklin!

Freddie is helping to rescue horses - one cup at a time.

Over the course of the event total points from preliminary classes that included handling, maneuvers and trail determined who move forward into the Top 10 Freestyle Finals for their chance to be crowned the winner of the Mustang Heritage Spectacular. As the name implies freestyle gives the handlers creative liberty to show off what their horses have learned in four short months.

Themes varied from old-style westerns to a circus as staged by the Deden Family from Houston, Texas. Australian Dan James with his family presented an enchanting program with white horses while proving that kids can be involved in training at a relatively early age.

Mark Lyon and his team went with a medieval tale while Ginger Duke who is an acclaimed trick rider went with a Peter Pan theme. But, it would be the well-respected crowd favorite Bobby Kerr with his birds, dogs and horses who would be the big winner in Tennessee taking home the large check made out for $20,000 big ones.

In Music City there was a huge selction of music related silent auction items to be bid on.

The money didn't stop there when on Saturday night at the VIP Party, newly appointed CEO Clinton Shultz handed out generous amounts of cash to many of the VIP trainers to help them with expenses associated with domesticating the wild horses. Next, Chairperson Gary Holt thanked all involved for their hard work mentioning they had much to celebrate.

However, even more burrows and mustangs will need homes in the future so if you can please support MHF or attend Mustang Heritage Spectacular if it comes to a city near you.

Tim West Photography proved just how photogenic these animals are.

Related Links: For more information on the MUSTANG HERITAGE FOUNDATION and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Mustang Heritage Foundation | Ag Expo Park | Tim West Photography | Dusty Rose Coffee Roasters | Sarah Beth Terry | Teen Miss Rodeo Tennessee


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