Two women rode mustangs onto the Shepherd University campus earlier this week. Not the car, however. They were riding the equines the famed sportscar is named for.
Hannah Catalino and Lisanne Fear are riding 5,000 miles across the U.S. to raise awareness for mustangs. On this ride, dubbed the Mustang Discovery Ride, they’re hoping to inspire 5,000 people to adopt mustangs as pleasure horses.
Wild mustangs still roam parts of the Western plains, as they have for 400 years, but there are more horses than the land can support. So each year, the Bureau of Land Management rounds up horses and puts them in holding pens across America. Currently, there are 53,000 mustangs in holding pens.
Hannah and Lisanne train mustangs and find homes for these living remnants of American history. The women say that it’s a misconception that mustangs can’t be trained to become riding and companion horses.
They met back in 2014 at the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Nampa, Idaho. The annual event attracts equine enthusiasts, who train and demonstrate the riding skills of mustangs, who then go on to careers in barrel racing, Western dressage, traditional dressage, hunter-jumper, train and endurance riding.
Although often associated with Western riding, with the right training, mustangs can adapt to just about any riding discipline.
Parked near Ram Stadium on Monday, Nov. 1, Lisanne and Hannah spoke about their gentle riding companions and answered questions. Each day, they ride from 10 to 25 miles. Each woman rides one of the horses, and each is accompanied by another mustang or mule-stang, as Lisanne called the mule who is part of the trip.
Lisanne sat astride a dun-colored horse as she spoke about the journey, while a couple of bay mustangs stood calmly next to her. Hannah attended to the mule, another dun-colored horse and a mottled roan horse. Scattered around them were packs and other tools for the trip.
After three days on the train, each horse rests for a day. The trip began earlier this fall in Delaware, and the women expect to be on the West Coast by next fall. The 5,000 mile ride will follow the American Discovery Trail, which is a combination of towpaths, rail trails and other trails, that extends from Delaware through the middle of the U.S. to California.
The Mustang Discovery Foundation is coordinating the logistics of the ride, publicizing it, developing video content and podcasts to spread the word about finding homes for these horses. The Mustang Heritage Foundation is a principal sponsor.