Bethany, 16, is training the mustang in Canton for the Extreme Mustang Makeover program and plans to show off the yearling at a 20-student competition Oct. 21 to 23 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She is training Pizzazz, who is on loan from the federal government, as part of the Mustang Heritage Foundation's Youth Employment Program.
"I have other horses, but this is the first horse I've trained from being completely wild," Bethany said. "It was a little scary at the beginning, knowing that I was the first person to actually touch her."
Bethany got Pizzazz on July 21 at a government holding facility in Mississippi. Since then, she has trained the horse, which came from Wyoming, and spoken at events including the Special Olympics horse show in Perry, seeking to raise awareness of horse adoption by showing that wild horses are intelligent animals.
While Pizzazz is too young to ride, Bethany has trained her to perform tricks like jumping barrels.
"She can get up on a pedestal like a circus elephant," Bethany said. "She can do lots of different tricks."
To control the population, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management captures wild mustangs and puts them up for adoption. The agency now has more than 40,000 horses available for adoption, according to a press release.
Jennifer Hancock, a spokeswoman with the Texas-based Mustang Heritage Foundation, said the competitions the nonprofit hosts have helped 3,000 horses get adopted since 2007, but there is still a long way to go.
The competition in Murfreesboro, which has youth and adult divisions, includes an obstacle course and a showmanship event. Hancock said last year's winning horse ran through a ring of fire.
"The kids do an awesome job and come up with some awesome routines," she said.
Bethany heard about the Extreme Mustang Makeover program from trainer Rebecca Bowman of Woodstock. Bowman has raised and competed three mustangs in the program.
Bethany, who trains Pizzazz in Canton, is one of two of Bowman's students involved with Extreme Mustang Makeover.
"The whole program they have with kids is such a great program that I encouraged them to get involved with it," Bowman said. "In general, the kids have learned so much - patience being the big thing. Having a mustang out of the wild is almost like having a newborn child. You have to be there every day, no matter what."
While adults have to put their mustangs up for auction after the competition, participants in the yearling competition can opt to adopt their horse for $125. That is something Bethany hopes to do.
"I would love to," she said. "There is still a possibility for me to adopt my horse, but I don't know if it will work out."