Bandit has the ok from my vet at Oregon State University. I don't run him COMPETITIVELY. I'm just getting him patterned. I won't be using him competitively until the summer after next probably. I'm just getting him started out. I wouldn't dream of competing with him yet. That level is too harsh on his young body.
I started racing when I was 8 for fun, and have been racing semi-competitively since I was 12. I've ridden some great horses but I've also got on some that I thought for sure were going to kill me. All hyped up, rearing, kicking, throwing their head, etc. I swore to myself if I had a horse, I would never do that to them.
I don't know what you mean by "mentally" however. Could you enlighten me? Are you talking about temperment? Or respect? Or what?
Some of you (especially Spastic Dove) may have seen my post a while back in response to a question about what I do to start out a barrel horse. My reply seemed to shock a couple people as I had said that repetition is key and I had mentioned far more reps than others thought necessary. I'm just going by what I have been exposed to and learned from other ladies who have been in the business way longer than I have. Everyone has their own ideas of how to do things. There are many barrel ladies on here that comment on these kind of posts frequently. But I could almost guarantee that if you asked 10 of them the same question you would get 10 different answers. Its all based on personal preference and experience. I agree that green riders should not ride green horses. But who's going to tell them not to? Its a difficult thing to try to control.....
By mentally I mean every horse is an individual. Not every horse can handle the same pressure no matter how slow you take it. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and wait for them to mature mentally before asking so much from them.
A horse I started on barrels (the 3 year old that the owner wanted in futurities) wasnt mentally mature enough for the pressure. She would get hot as soon as she came out of the trailer,didnt want to load, and would start popping in the alley. Despite my warnings the owner persisted and ended up being discouraged by the horses performance. (naturally) For a year and a half she was taken off barrels and started in hunter/jumpers and was excelling in western pleasure. I started her back on the pattern at 5 and the difference was amazing. Same training, same rider. The horse had come leaps and bounds mentally. All of her problems were "magically" resolved and she started clocking 2D times her first few exhibitions back.
On the other hand...I started another horse, a late 3 to early 4 year old. The previous trainer basically screwed him up so I not only had to clean up his mess, but I also had to retrain him to enjoy what he hated.
After 2 weeks he was enjoying the pattern again and became a horse who you could just keep working the pattern and he would never sour. He was clocking 1D/2D times. He was a lot older mentally. Ran nearly every weekend without a problem.
He didnt have any issues, while the first horse wouldnt have been able to handle that sort of stress.