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In The News!

HARMONY -- Knowing the whereabouts of "horse hotels" has come in handy for horse "gentler" Karina Lewis, who was on another rescue mission this week.

Toting her newest mustang, ShoGun, Lewis made stops to facilities in Kentucky and New Jersey. As part of her ongoing effort to shelter wild horses that need a home, Lewis had picked up ShoGun from a holding facility in Illinois on Sunday. "There's a network of people who make their properties available to people like myself who travel with horses," Lewis said Wednesday. She made it back to her Harmony farm late Tuesday night. But not before Lewis picked up two more wild horses in New Hampshire

ShoGun is some horse, and more of a challenge than the last one Lewis adopted.

"ShoGun is raw right now," she said of the 1,100-pound mustang. "He is a lot more horse and he's much more excitable than the last one. But I should be able to ride him within a week."

People like Lewis adopt wild mustangs at holding facilities managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and "gentle" the horses, in order to better care for them. Illinois is the closest such bureau for the wild horses, which are indigenous mostly west of the Mississippi River.

Lewis, born and raised on a Montana cattle ranch, has called Maine home for two years. She and her partner, Kirk Stanley, have five mustangs and raise organic vegetables at their 400-acre Lakeview Farm and Equestrian Center on Great Moose Lake.

She is founder of Adopt A Mustang and her book, "The Mirror Effect," details personal enlightenment. Sometimes described as a horse whisperer, Lewis acts on her ability to read horses.

At Lakeview Farm, Lewis helps horse owners and even mounted cavalry to better know their animals. That's how she spends her typical day.

"I really try to create harmonious relationships between horses and people," she said. "My gift enables me to gentle them rather quickly and that's why (Bureau of Land Management) has me on their adoption program. I'm a certified trainer with the Mustang Heritage Foundation."

Anyone calling the foundation, based in Bertram, Texas, might well speak with someone who is familiar with Lewis. Just mention the state of Maine to Kali Sublett, a manager at the foundation.

"I know exactly who you are talking about," Sublett said. "She is our only trainer in Maine."

Sublett said that the foundation's goal is to increase awareness of mustangs, whose numbers are growing. Most live in Nevada, northern California or Oregon, either in the wild or in holding facilities. There are between 20,000 and 30,000 in all, she said.

"Too many is never good," Sublett said. "There is not enough food, for one thing, especially in Nevada. The land can't sustain that many horses."

ShoGun, the latest mustang to benefit from Lewis' compassion, might prove a bit more of a challenge than her last project. She has 100 days to get him ready for the second annual Extreme Mustang Makeover, scheduled for Sept. 18-21 in Fort Worth, Texas.

A "makeover" entails three parts:

Trainers engage in "hands-on" competition, showing and then walking or trotting their horses with a halter through the obstacle course.

Trainers ride the mustangs through the course, and judges select the top 15.

Trainer and horse go through an obstacle course, followed by four minutes of freestyle.

Soon, horse and rider will make a trail run for Extreme Mustang Makeover. Lewis and Shogun will appear at the Equine Extravaganza in Raleigh, N.C., on July 11-13.

Lewis is among 100 trainers nationwide, chosen by the foundation, to be nominated for Extreme Mustang Makeover.

Larry Grard -- 861-9239



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