Matt Zimmerman Wins Oregon Extreme Mustang Makeover

Matt Zimmerman of Adrian, Oregon, and his Mustang trainee Diamond won the Albany, Oregon, Extreme Mustang Makeover on June 30. Matt and Diamond were third in the pattern class and first in the combined leading and riding trail class, but the preliminary scores are wiped clean for the finals.

The team scored a 51 in the compulsory maneuvers, which was fourth best, but impressed the judges and wowed the crowd with a patriotic routine that included Diamond and Zimmerman racing around the arena with an American flag and then pausing perfectly still on a platform so that Zimmerman could stand in the saddle and crack a whip. The team scored 116 in the freestyle for a total of 167 and won the competition by two and a half points.

Matt and Diamond were voted as fan favorites by the crowd through text voting. Diamond is a 5-year-old sorrel mare gathered from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon. Zimmerman was involved in a horse accident in August 2011 that left him in the intensive care unit near death. Less than a year later, he is back in the saddle and an Extreme Mustang Makeover champion. Diamond was adopted for $1,600 by Matt Zimmerman.

Rachel Tarnowski of Gaston, Oregon, and her Mustang trainee Sage scored 56.5, the top score in the compulsory maneuvers, and 108 in the freestyle finals for a total of 164.5. Sage is a 3-year-old bay mare gathered from the Stinkingwater Herd Management Area in Oregon. Sage was adopted for $3,900.

The 35 Mustangs competing in the Oregon Extreme Mustang Makeover were geldings and mares, who were virtually untouched prior to the March pick-up. The horses were judged on their body condition and new skills. The trainers and Mustangs competed in a series of classes that are designed to showcase the Mustangs’ new talents to potential adopters.

Venessa Hansen of Dairy, Oregon, competed with two Mustangs, Kind of a Big Deal and Jagger, and received a new Martin Saddlery Mustang Series Saddle for being the Double Down Champion, for having the highest combined score in the preliminaries. Both were 4-year-old bay geldings gathered from the Coyote Lakes Herd Management Area in Oregon. Kind of a Big Deal was fourth in the finals, and Jagger was ninth. Willow Newcomb was named the champion Young Gun (an award given to trainers 18-21), Don Douglas was named the champion Silver Bullet (an award given to trainers over 50), and Kristi Siebert was named the champion Rookie. Dinero, a 4-year-old gelding gathered from Coyote Lakes HMA in Oregon and trained by Jani Mari Zigray-Cochran, was the highest-adopted Mustang with a closing bid of $5,000.  

Complete class results for the Albany, Oregon, Extreme Mustang Makeover are available at

The purpose of the competition is to showcase the beauty, versatility and trainability of these rugged horses that roam freely on public lands throughout the West, where they are protected by the BLM under federal law. The BLM periodically removes excess animals from the range to ensure herd health and protect rangeland resources. Thousands of the removed animals are then made available each year to the public for adoption. More than 3,300 wild horses have been adopted through Mustang Heritage Foundation events and programs since 2007.

The Extreme Mustang Makeovers are made possible through our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and the generosity of our sponsors Ram Trucks, Western Horseman, Pfizer, Vetericyn, Roper Apparel & Footwear, Twister Trailers, Gist Silversmiths, Martin Saddlery and Smith Brothers. The mission of the Mustang Heritage Foundation and the goal of the Extreme Mustang Makeover events are to increase the adoption of Mustangs across the country. The Mustang Heritage Foundation created the Extreme Mustang Makeover events to showcase the recognized value of Mustangs through a national training competition. For more information, visit