My mare, Tanner, has been nearly impossible to fit to a saddle, and the one we ordered is taking forever to get here because of multiple complications. So, as a result, she has barely been ridden since I got her a year ago, except for bareback riding at a walk and trot, and a short trail ride when I first got her. The previous owners hadn't ridden her in five years, either, so I kept thinking that when I finally saddled her, I'd have a heck of a time with her!
Well, I took her to a speed show with Magic yesterday, more or less just to keep Magic company (I hate taking a horse to a show alone!) and I figured that, since my friend is just learning to ride Magic now, I could bareback Tanner.
Well, another of my friends that was showing that day suddenly offered this saddle she had with her, and said "Here, try this on her!" and lo and behold, the saddle fit her like a dream! The seat was too big for me, and the stirrups, even at their shortest, were a bit too long, but I was still excited. She said I could use the saddle for the day, and so I saddled up Tanner and took her to the warm up pens before the show. It was a bit rocky at first -- she would refuse, or panic because she couldn't see Magic, and it took a few tries to get her working off neck reining and foot pressure again. I still think I'll have to try her in another bit, because the snaffle she's in is just not working out once she gets worked up. But once she started remembering, and listening to me, she was the one of the sweetest little mares I've met. So, I decided that I would sign her up for the show, and just not push her very hard. So I had both her and Magic in two barrels classes, two poles, flag, and plug.
Keep in mind, Magic is Tanner's daughter -- unless they're standing side-by-side, or you know them, they can be ****ed hard to tell apart.
The first barrels class, I ran Magic -- who was half asleep, but didn't run too badly -- and then, a few horses later, Tanner. The announcer said, over the intercom, that I couldn't run the same horse twice in a show. So once that was sorted out, I put Tanner into a steady lope and sent her off to the first barrel... and just before the timer she put on this huge burst of speed and just took off! At first I thought she was bolting, and then she started to turn the barrel! I reined her in a little and around the course, and she made some pretty wide turns, but I can't say I expected her to start off perfectly. She ended up running a 30 second time! In her next run, she ran 27 seconds! (I know, that's not very impressive when the first place runners are doing 16 seconds, but for her first run in six years and my first run on her, 30 and 27 seconds is pretty darned good.)
I don't remember her other times (I have them written down somewhere, but I can't find them), but she placed 5th in Flags.
I had Mark (another rider at the shows that I hang out with) teasing me because I was taking every precaution I could to make sure Tanner stayed hydrated, was properly cooled down and warmed up, and was even stretched out before every run; I wanted to be 100% that she didn't strain herself. I even had the show vet stop to ask me once if she was hurt.
I'm taking Tanner and Magic to a 2-day show again this weekend, and I'll practice barrels with her a little (at a walk/trot! I don't want her getting to thinking that barrels = run!) before the show, and I might show her in some pleasure-type classes and such, besides the speed shows.