Photo courtesy of Jimbo Albritton.
Jacksonville, FL (February 18, 2016) – When second-generation horseman Jimbo Albritton of Jacksonville, Florida decided he would take on the challenge of competing in the next Extreme Mustang Makeover, he was a little nervous. He would be taking on a horse untouched by human hands and have 100 days to transform her into a winning steed – a bit different from the training he’s used to. As Albritton explains, “It was the luck of the draw.”
As fate would have it, luck was on his side. He was assigned to his own lucky Penney, a five-year-old mare he describes as sweet-tempered and eager to please, “kind of like a puppy dog.”
Now, Albritton and Penney are working feverishly to prepare for the upcoming Extreme Mustang Makeover, which will be hosted at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 6-7.
During the competition, Albritton and horsemen like him will be vying for the $25,000 award and custom-made Gist belt buckle, each working with a mare that had freely roamed on land protected by the Bureau of Land Management before partaking in this challenge.
As the action unfolds, trainers will show off their Mustangs’ beauty, versatility, and performance in several rounds of competition. The horse-and-rider pairs will first compete in handling and conditioning, then a pattern class, and then a combined leading and riding class. Ultimately, the selected finalists will compete in an exciting four-minute freestyle event where this year’s champion will emerge.
For Albritton, the odds are looking good – thanks to his training experience and his remarkable partnership with Penney.
“My favorite thing about her is that she is like a sponge,” Albritton explained. “She’s taking everything in, she’s not panicking, and she’s willing. She’s improving each day, and it’s rare you get a horse who is that willing. She’s really changed my outlook on what Mustangs are made of.”
But that doesn’t mean Penney doesn’t have a few quirks. For one, Albritton says she could use a little help with steering. “The biggest challenge when I’m riding her is her handling her direction,” he said. “Lefts and rights and stops – the whole nine yards.”
Luckily, Albritton has a few tricks up his sleeve after practically growing up in the saddle alongside his dad and starting his own training business, Flying A Performance Horses, a few years back.
But for Albritton, whether or not Penney turns on a dime – or even wins the competition – isn’t his top concern. His highest hopes lie with her finding the perfect home for her to start her next adventure with. “I want to see her riding around really good and gentle, so anyone can get along with her.”
Like all the other Mustangs in the program, Penney will be available for adoption after the event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center as part of an effort by the Mustang Heritage Foundation to find happy homes for the deserving horses. And as Penney and her other equine counterparts wow the crowd with their ability to quickly evolve from roaming free to mastering the ring, there’s little doubt they’ll find someone to take them home.
To see how this year’s event unfolds or to adopt one of the competing Mustangs, head to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for the May 6 and 7 events. Preliminary classes are free to watch. Tickets for the freestyle event are available here.
The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a favorite destination for equestrian and recreational events. The 80-acre facility is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, and features an enormous indoor arena, outdoor arenas, and over 400 stalls. There are also miles of riding, hiking, and biking trails accessible from the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The facility is a part of a recreational park that includes picnic pavilions, a gymnasium, and an Olympic-size indoor pool. For more information and to find out about other upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at (904) 255-4227.
For more information, contact:
Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Penny Gorton 904-255-4227
13611 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32221