Fewer than 100 days ago, Jacks to Win, an American mustang, was a completely feral horse, unaccustomed to humans or handling.
On Sunday, he'll show the crowd at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg what he's learned as Suzanne Myers of Port Matilda presents a demonstration on her mustang training program, Next Level Horse-manship.
The demonstration, new to the farm show this year, will be at 7 p.m. in the equine arena.
Suzanne Myers of Port Matilda shown here with her mustang Jazz, will demonstrate what she’s taught another mustang, Jacks to Win, Sunday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
Myers, a native of Buffalo Mills, Bedford County, has been training horses for almost 20 years, but 2007 was the first year she trained a mustang. She and that horse, Jazz, went on to win to the 2008 Midwest Mustang Challenge in Madison, Wis., an event that challenges mustangs' skills after 100 days of training.
After the exhibition, the horses were sold at a public auction, and Myers bought Jazz, giving the horse a permanent home at Myers Stables.
"They're very unique, very, very cool horses," Myers said. "They bond very strongly with you. Yeah, they're feral, and yeah, they can be dangerous initially, but once you break into that shell and they realize you're a leader to them, they give you everything."
The following is a list of highlights at the 2009 Pennsylvania Farm Show. The show opens to the public at 8 a.m. Saturday and runs until 5 p.m. Jan 17 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. For a complete schedule, visit www.farmshow.pa.us.
10:30 a.m.: Opening ceremonies
11:30 a.m.: Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff's address
Noon to 3 p.m.: High school rodeo championship
12:30 p.m.: Hershey's cookie, bar and brownie contest
2:30 p.m.: Hershey's chocolate cake contest
4 p.m.: "Hungry Detective" Chris Cognac's demonstration
11 a.m.: State police mounted drill team demonstration
1 p.m.: Angel food cake contest
4 p.m.: Pineapple upside down cake contest
6 p.m.: Dog demonstration: "Farm to fun"
7 p.m.: American mustang demonstration by Suzanne Myers of Port Matilda
4 p.m.: State FFA Association convention
6 p.m.: Irish dance and clogging demonstration
6:30 p.m.: Square dance parade
3 p.m.: Arena carriage racing
6 p.m.: Farm show talent contest
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Antique tractor display
3 p.m.: Sheep to Shawl competition
3 p.m.: Howard Helmer, World's Fastest Omelet Maker, demonstration
Noon: PA Preferred Best Chef of Pennsylvania Regional Cook-off, including Bill Sell of Altoona Hotel
1:30 p.m.: Round two of regional chef contest
3 p.m.: Final round of regional chef contest
5 p.m.: PA Preferred Best Chef of Pennsylvania state championship cookoff
10 a.m. and noon: Tractor square dancing
2:30 p.m.: Celebrity cow milking contest
5 p.m.: Great Shoo-Fly Pie Contest
1 p.m.: Equine showcase demonstration
4 p.m.: Closing ceremonies
Myers trains mustangs through the Mustang Heritage Foundation's Trainer Incentive Program, which pays trainers to train and gentle mustangs and then find the horse a home.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has initiatives in place to protect and control wild horses and burros, which have no natural predators and can double their herd size every four years.
"Our work is designed to get the horse to start to think about and focus on us," Myers said. "We want them to think of us not so much as a predator but as another member of their herd. Our training techniques ... are modifications of a horse's natural behavior."
The mustang demonstration is one of several new attractions at this year's farm show, said Jean Kummer, deputy press secretary for the state Depart-ment of Agriculture.
Kummer said the new attractions also include a farm show talent show, an antique tractor pull and a separate category for red-and-white Holstein cows in the dairy shows.
The talent show will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 12, and "anyone can enter," Kummer said. Entries will be accepted until Sunday. Entry forms are available at www.farmshow.state.pa.us.
"[Participants] will be divided into age categories and then compete in voice, dance, instrumental or novelty [categories]," Kummer said. "So if you're a really good stand-up comic, this might be your big chance."
Perennial farm show favorites will be back again this year, such as the butter sculpture, the sheep-to-shawl competition and high school rodeo.
For the third year, celebrity chef Chris Cognac of Food Network's "The Hungry Detective" will present cooking demonstrations, along with Richard Blair of Bravo TV's "Top Chef" and "Iron Chef America"; Louisa Chu of "Iron Chef America" and PBS' "Gourmet Diary of a Foodie"; and Howard Helmer, who's known as the World's Fastest Omelet Maker.
Local chef Bill Sell of the Altoona Hotel will also make an appearance at the farm show as he competes against chefs from Philadelphia, Venango County and Dauphin County in the PA Preferred Best Chef of Pennsylvania competition, which begins at noon Jan. 15. Sell won the local contest in August at Ag Progress Days in Rock Springs.
The winner of the regional competition will go head-to-head with the 2008 reigning champion, Drew Wandishin, executive chef of Top of the 80's in West Hazelton.
"It'll be pretty tough, but I don't think there's anybody down there that's going to stop me from winning the whole thing," Sell said.
The region will be represented in several other contests at the farm show, including the livestock, vegetable and baking competitions. Jim Benshoff and his family of Benshoff Farms in New Germany, Cambria County, will be entering several vegetables - different varieties of potatoes, green cabbage, red cabbage, gourds, Indian corn, straw and certified seed oat, to name a few.
Last year, Benshoff's cabbage was grand champion of the entire vegetable show.
"Well, it's just the same thing as entering the fair - it's the prestige of winning," Benshoff said. "And showing our vegetables to all the other people who enter."
Mirror Staff Writer Ashley Gurbal is at 946-7435.