The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

Local trainer invited to Germany


Pictured is Hannah Catalino working with a horse in New Zealand. Courtesy photo

Hannah Catalino of Whitehall leaves at the end of April and will spend four months in Europe, training and gentling a wild mustang for the third annual, Mustang Makeover Germany trainer challenge where she'll compete against 14 other professionals for a grand prize of 20,000 Euros.

The other competitors are from Germany, England, Belgium, Spain, France and Switzerland, but Hannah is the only American competitor representing the USA. Trainers are selected based on their kind and gentle training techniques and abilities to work with young green horses.

The horses used in the competition are titled wild BLM mustangs rounded up out various locations in Oregon. Mare and geldings are randomly drawn by the trainer or a chosen representative.

With an estimated 70,000 mustangs roaming BLM lands and 46,000 already captured and in holding, programs like this competition provides a promising future for the mustangs selected to make the long journey to Europe and the published event offers public awareness around the World to plight of the American Mustang. In the last three years over 100 mustangs have been placed and found homes in Europe through this organization run by Michael and Silke Strussione

Silke and Michael flew to Burns, Oregon to select the horses in October. The competition horses have been spending a couple months in Atlanta, Georgia for quarantine with trainer Sandra Williamson who's job is also to earn their trust and train them just enough so that the horses can fly safely and as stress free as possible on the 12 hour flight to Germany. Nonetheless the goal is that when they arrive in Europe they are virtually untrained and trainers have 100 days to gentle and properly train them for various classes.

Hannah Catalino observes wild brumbies in Australia. Courtesy photo

The competition takes place in Aachen, Germany and the horses are offered for sale via public auction, minimum bid of 6500 Euros, which is about the cost to import each one. In the competition, horses have to show that they can be handled in various situations, ridden through a trail obstacle course, and showcase their skills in a creative final freestyle class. Trainer are scored and judged based on the harmony and partnership between the horse and rider.

Hannah has participated and competed in Extreme Mustang Makeover events and challenges here in the United States since 2012. Wild horses has grown into a passion of hers and she has traveled across the world working with and studying wild horses as far as Australia and New Zealand. In addition to her work with wild horses, Hannah specializes working with horses off line and at liberty.


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