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'Leftover' colt and teen owner earn honors at competitions

Monday, December 17, 2012

Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazdette
ARAPAHOE, Nebraska -- Ask Gabrielle Stephens about Gunner, and her dark blue eyes sparkle and a smile spreads across her face.

Gabby's eager to talk about the horse -- an American Mustang -- who's stolen her heart and is helping her make decisions and choices about career opportunities.

Gunner is the yearling Mustang that 13-year-old Gabrielle adopted through Mustang Heritage Foundation's "Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover Adoption," a program that offers Mustangs for adoption, and then adopters train and compete with their horses.

Courtesy photo
Gabrielle and her parents, Kip and Senja Stephens of Arapahoe, Nebraska, watched videos and an on-line auction of Mustangs available for adoption through the MHF. "Gunner was a 'left-over.' It broke my heart," Gabrielle said.

Gunner was born after his mother was captured in Nevada. "We watched a 30-second video of him, and he moved really nice," Gabby said.

But because no one else bid on the bay gelding, Gabrielle paid only $250 for him, much less than the higher prices paid for many other horses. They picked Gunner up in Oklahoma and brought him home in May, Gabrielle said.

Thirteen-year-old Gabrielle Stephens of Arapahoe, Nebraska, works with "Gunner," the yearling American Mustang she adopted through the Mustang Heritage Foundation's "Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover" adoption program. The pair won the 11-13-year-old division of the Makeover horse show competition in Fort Worth, Texas, in September. Gabby is an eighth grader at Arapahoe Public Schools and is the daughter of Kip an Senja Stephens.
(Courtesy Photo)
After working together for 120 days, Gabrielle and Gunner competed in and won the 11-13-year-old age division of the annual Mustang Makeover competition in Fort Worth, Texas, in September.

Gabby and Gunner won first place in the pattern class, second in the trail class and fifth in the compulsory moves class. Her collective points gave her the age division championship, a $2,000 cash prize and a trophy belt buckle.

Gabby also competed with Gunner in 4-H during the summer, and he won fourth place in showmanship during the county fair.

Also during the county fair, on her other horse, a Quarter Horse named "Patty," Gabby won the mare seven years old and over division and overall champion mare, and the trail and pleasure classes.

Gabrielle hasn't ridden Gunner -- at just a year and a half old, he's too young for a rider. "By bring next year, I'll start riding him," Gabby said.

Although Patty loves to run and enjoys the poles and barrels, Gabby says she herself is more into the skills classes like pleasure, horsemanship, trail and reining.

Because of her involvement with her horses, Gabby wants to go into equestrian training as a career. "That's my goal," she said. "Training and teaching horses are my favorites."

To watch videos of Gabby and Gunner, go to www.youtube.com and search Gabby and Gunner

For information on the Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover, go to www.extrememustangmakeover.com

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