While many students enjoyed this past summer traveling, going to concerts or hanging out with their friends, Burbank resident Roberto Flores spent his break from school taming a wild mustang.
Flores, 19, spent about nine hours each day over the past three months in Sunland with his 12-year-old brother, Johnny, training wild mustangs for the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sept. 17.
Roberto Flores’ 5-year-old Mustang named Blockbuster and Johnny Flores’ 2-year-old Mustang named Mellow Moon both started off as wild mustangs that were caught in Nevada and transported to Redlands, where they are put up for adoption.
“They’re completely wild, and we have about 100 days to train them until we compete,” Roberto Flores said. “Neither of us could go up to them when we got them.”
As an equestrian enthusiast, Roberto Flores said he and his brother took on the challenge to educate those looking to purchase a horse because there are thousands of wild mustangs in the country that are waiting to be trained.
“These horses are cheaper than many of the other horses that people want to buy,” he said. “They’re not as trained to their liking, but train a mustang for 100 days and they’ll be almost perfect.”
At the competition in September, Roberto Flores and his brother will get an opportunity to show the judges how hard they have worked over the summer and how well trained their horses are by completing various tasks — such as leading their horse, making their horse walk backward and getting their horse into a trailer.
Roberto Flores said that he feels empowered after being able to take a wild animal and domesticating it to the point where it understands and obeys commands. He added that being around a horse makes him feel like he can achieve his own goals.
“It makes me feel like I can do anything,” he said. “Being with horses, I feel like I can do the best that I can. When I train a horse, I’m able to accomplish the goal. Training horses makes me feel like I’m really good at doing something, and I like that feeling because I never really felt like that throughout my whole life.”
Roberto Flores is attending Pierce College with an emphasis in pre-veterinary studies with hopes of transferring to Texas A&M to earn his bachelor’s degree and later earning his veterinary degree in Texas.
“Once I become a veterinarian, I want to make sure that I can stay in the [horse] training field because I want to be able to train horses and be an equine vet,” he said.