By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
MOUNTAIN SPRINGS – The recent “Mustang Million” equestrian event held in Fort Worth Sept. 16-21 at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center, was a successful competition for Mountain Springs resident Jordan Donnelly who finished seventh out of 200 and won $18,000 in prize money.
Donnelly is a 19-year old freshman at North Central Texas college and has loved horses all of her life. She was on her first horse at age one and began showing horses at age three.
The mustang competition actually begins with auctions held across the country months before the actual event. At these auctions, buyers bid on wild mustangs that have been captured and are introduced to the Bureau of Land Management holding program awaiting adoption via auction.
Donnelly decided to participate in the Mustang Million event just two days before the final auction on May 11. There she found her new best friend, Mercedes, a mustang with excellent conformation and a quiet eye.
“I picked out several horses but didn’t really like any of them,” Donnelly. “ Then when Mercedes came through I couldn’t believe that no one bid on her.”
“If a horse is not bid on during the auction, they go into a pool and at the end of the auction you can go and buy her for $200,” Donnelly said.
“I ran as fast as I could and bought her. There was just something about her, and I was lucky to get her at all let alone for $200,” she continued. ”Most people spent anywhere from $500 to $20,000.”
“I took her home and began working with her slowly and she learned to trust me.”
Donnelly worked with Mercedes on a daily basis from the middle of May through September except for June when she competed in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) contests.
“Honestly, because I had so many other things to do and I was starting college, I just spent a couple of hours a day with her,” Donnelly said. “Towards the end, I really started pushing her and trying to make her be a horse.”
“Luckily for me, she just caught on and I didn’t have any problems. She loves tricks. I taught her how to bow, lay down, sit up like a dog, just everything. She is perfect.”
After months of training, Donnelly and Mercedes made their way to Fort Worth for the competition. Competing against 200 head of mustangs Donnelly, who was age 18 at the time, would turn out to be the youngest competitor in the field.
The five day competition included three classes: Horsemanship, trail and the pattern class which is reining. After each show, a score is given and the Top 20 go on to the finals. Donnelly was ranked fourth overall out of 200, easily making the finals.
“Saturday night is when the finals started,” she said. “You do a freestyle routine. You pick your music and do whatever you want. I jumped Mercedes on the back of my truck and made her go over teeter-totters in my reining pattern maneuvers. The judges also like to see spins, slides and stops and they judge you on all that.”
“After everything was done, they place you and first place gets $200,000 and a Ram truck, They go all the way down to 20th place and they get $5,000. I ended up in seventh place and won $18,000.”
Pretty amazing for a horse that was passed over by everyone else at the auction and sold for just $200. The $18,000 was also the most money Donnelly had ever won in a competition.
Still on the family ranch in Mountain Springs, Mercedes will not be resting on her laurels long as Donnelly, a member of the NCTC equestrian team, plans to bring her to college next spring and perhaps use her in cow work.
“She loves cows,” Donnelly continued. “Most people think that mustangs, because they are wild, don’t have any talent because they are not bred right, but it’s wrong to judge a horse like that because they are probably the most talented horse ever.”
“When they get to trust you, you have them. They are your best friend. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to get a mustang to be your best friend, especially when the last person they saw was a person capturing them.”
Support from family and friends along the way were an important part of winning Donnelly said.
“I really want to thank my parents for all they have done and my friends and fans for supporting me. I couldn’t do this without them,” she said.
History repeated itself figuratively if not monetarily since Donnelly’s father, Kinzy Donnelly, finished seventh in the same competition two years earlier and won $2,000.
Even at such a young age, Donnelly has over $138,000 in lifetime earnings with the NRHA,.
At NCTC Donnelly is studying equine science and plans to return to the family business after college to assist her parents at the ranch.
“I think it is important to learn as much as I can about the horse. It will only make me better.”
Now that the Mustang Million is over, Donnelly plans on competing with her NCTC equestrian teammates at the rest of their fall events.
For more information on the NCTC equestrian team, contact head coach Bill Kaven at 940-668-7731 Ext. 4318 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By CATHY MOUNCE
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