Can an 8yr old safely handle a yearling Mustang? This was the question of the year for my family. Eliza, the youngest of us sisters at the age of 8yrs old, decided she wanted to train a wild Mustang. At first, we all were pretty against the idea as she was still just so young but Eliza was determined. Not only did she add it to her evening prayer list but she also started dragging Marissa and I out to the arena to teach her how to do showmanship on a daily basis. Seeing Eliza’s determination, we got her a very, very small and laid back unhalter-broke yearling pony for her to train. Well, the short story is she did indeed succeed in training that yearling and we agreed to let her enter the 2021 Washington Mustang Madness Competition.
Paisley Dessert Princess, a 13.2 hand palomino yearling, was Eliza’s Mustang for the competition. “Princess” was bold, brave and extremely smart. That first day she was very curious and Eliza was able to make more progress with Princess than we ever could have hoped for. Eliza was able to pet Princess, take her tag off and even walk her around. Princess was a bit spunky, very opinionated and tested her boundaries, but was the perfect first Mustang for Eliza.
Eliza took Princess everywhere with her from walks down the road to adventures through the woods. They practiced showmanship, trail obstacles and overall basic horsemanship each day improving each others skills.
When we showed up in CleElum, WA for the final event, Eliza had no signs of nerves but the rest of us were all super nervous for her. Eliza had never shown any horses before so we had no idea how she would handle memorizing patterns and performing in front of a huge crowd of people not to mention dealing with a nervous yearling Mustang. Would we be able to even get Eliza and Princess inside the arena? Our main goal is to always have fun so we brushed our nerves aside and settled in for a fun weekend. Eliza’s first class was the Handling class. The class included loading into a trailer, picking up all four feet, brushing both sides and releasing the horse into the round pen and catching her again. We had absolutely no idea how this class would go….would Princess load into the trailer? Would she be crazy in the round pen and not let Eliza catch her? Would she bolt and take off running around the arena? When Eliza went into the arena, we all stood in anticipation ready to jump in and help if needed but to our great relief they did amazing together and all the hard work over the last four months paid off. Princess and Eliza completed all of the elements of the class to the best of their ability and came out of the class with a huge smile! Eliza placed 2nd in the class in the 13 and under division!
The next two preliminary classes went by with out a hitch and they took 1st in pattern class and 3rd in Obstacle. The Freestyle Class the next morning was a swirl of nerves and excitement for everyone involved. Eliza’s freestyle was a super cute routine which included umbrellas, rain jackets and even a balloon arch! Even though they were both exhausted from the weekend, they put on a stellar performance and placed 2nd in freestyle moving them into 2nd overall!
Eliza did an amazing job with her Mustang, Princess, and even though it was a very hard and sad decision, she decided to go ahead and re-home Princess so that she had time to train another Mustang next year. Princess went home with her best friend, Elsie, and is enjoying life making another 8yr old happy!