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Trainers showcase wild horses for adoption in the Branded Bonanza program

Posted at 2:47 PM, Jun 28, 2024

The Branded Bonanza is a program that gives people a chance to train wild horses and burros with the end goal of getting these horses to their forever homes.

It's a program formerly called Mustang Mania and it helps the Bureau of Land Management get horses and burros to homes after they've been taken off the range.

Kendra and Fiona

Kendra Mendes has participated in this program for four years and she showcased her mare Fiona in the handling and conditioning course.

"She's a sweet girl," said Kendra. "Even if it is a really difficult horse I like to fight through and get their bonding because at first she would strike and try to kick me, but now as you see she is super chill and loves me."

Kendra takes Fiona through the course while Moose runs around

Breaking a wild horse or burro can be really difficult as it takes trust, but that can be difficult to achieve depending on the horse. Kendra earned the trust of Fiona, but it took patience and working with her for hours every day.

"I’ve sat in the arena just crying with her because she would not do what I want," said Kendra. "So I’m really happy that she’s actually listening to me and I’m here doing the competitions, so I’m really excited."

Trainers of all ages showed off their work with wild horses and burros

Branded Bonanza features the handling and conditioning course to show how the horse listens and what kind of shape the horse is in. There will also be a trail riding challenge and Kendra looks forward to the freestyle event where she will have her own music and two and a half minutes to showcase what she's taught Fiona.

"She will be Peter Pan and I will be Tinkerbell," said Kendra. "We will trot through cones, go over a bridge, weave pulls back through, and go through some stuff that could be scary to other horses, so it is a really fun experience."

One of the burros up for adoption

RELATED | Wild horses find their forever homes through the BLM adoption program

Two weeks ago Fiona had a foal Kendra named Moose. They were both on display and Kendra is hoping that they will find a forever home through this showcase. It wouldn't be the first wild horse Kendra has helped and those include, a trail horse, a packing horse in the mountains, and recently she helped a girl receive her dream horse.

"A couple months ago I sent a two-year-old over to Pennsylvania because this little girl was having some trouble," said Kendra. "Her dream horse was a mustang pinto and that is what he was so it really warmed my heart that she got him."

Kendra ushers Fiona into a trailer

Fiona is one of the horses taken from the Hardtrigger Wild Horse Management Area and Kendra has been working with her since March. Kendra has high hopes for Fiona's future, but it will also be tough to say goodbye.

"I really get happy and emotional because it’s kind of sad," said Kendra. "You build this bond with them for months and months and then they just like go away."

Branded Bonanza is a free event at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa

We have been following the wild horses taken off the range last September and we've done multiple stories of the gather and subsequent adoptions by the Bureau of Land Management. If you are interested in checking out these horses, this free event continues on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

RELATED | Wild horses and burros up for adoption at BLM Off-Range Corral