Mia Shaffer didn’t start out to win the Youth 1D saddle this year – in fact, she was lucky to run this year at all. A tragic car accident had sidelined Shaffer for a few months at the beginning of the season. It took help from family and friends to get back in the saddle, but in the end, Shaffer claimed the Youth 1D Championship at the last barrel race of the season. Her year was full of highs and lows, but in the end her 19-year-old gelding, Bunches O’ Honey, or “Mac,” pulled through, with the help of her 6-year-old mare, Taponita Sandy, or “Raz.”
What horse(s) helped you win the 1D youth title? (Reg. name, barn name, age, breeding)
My points accumulated throughout the show season were mainly by my 19-year-old gelding, Bunches O Honey (aka Mac). My 6-year-old mare, Taponita Sandy (aka Raz) helped in the smaller pens that Mac does not excel in.
How long have you been with that horse(s)?
I have been with Mac two years but could not run for the first six months due to technical difficulties. I have had Raz for two and half years, but this was her our first summer truly hauling her.
Take our readers through your year. How did it start out?
My year started out very rough. A month before the season started my mother and I were involved in a fatal accident on the way home from a rodeo. It was not our fault, and all three of us (Mac included) walked away with just cuts and muscle damage. Our rig was not so lucky. Our truck was totaled and our trailer was in need of major repair. Needless to say, we did not appear back on the circuit for sometime. We started our season in about the middle of March.
What were some of the bumps in the road this year?
I was very lucky this year to not have many bumps in the road, but two of the arenas that we frequently haul to gave Mac and I some trouble. Ground and size are a factor in Mac’s performance.
What was the highlight or best run of your year?
I can think of two highlights of my year. The first one did not occur on the Penn Ohio Circuit. My Aunt Ginny and I traveled to Dillsburg, Pa (Diamond 7 Arena) for the IBRA State Finals and exceeded our expectations. I ended up running a 15.402 , which put me right behind Kate Keeny (National IBRA 1-D Champion) in her home pen. Barrel Horse News ended up interviewing me and doing a story on the finals.
Another memory that sticks out in my mind is the last run I made in the Penn-Ohio Circuit for the year. It was at Buckhorn Arena, and I had to win the youth class to win the title. I had previously had trouble keeping the first barrel up. I did the only thing I could think of to possibly keep that barrel up – I over-and-undered the whole way to the back side of the first barrel. I came out with a 14.8, a clean pattern, and the second fastest time of the day. That run won me the saddle and title.
What was your mentality going into this year – were you planning on hauling to win it or did it just happen?
I was not hauling to win in the beginning of the year. Around the middle of August, my mom checked the standings to see if I was in the top 5. She found out that I was winning it. I lost that lead when the pens switched to indoors. I was only behind ten or so points so my mom and I kept hauling to see if I could catch up. It came down to the last show, where I pulled out the win with the second fastest time of the show.
How many barrel races do you think you made it to this year?
I made it to probably 75 percent of the shows. The accident, vacations and school commitments kept me away from them.
Who helped you the most throughout this year?
My great aunt/trainer has helped me the most since I began riding when I was 5. She and I turned a 2-year-old unbroken pony (I was 7 at the time) into the fastest pony on the East Coast. When we got Mac two years ago, he was knocking every barrel I tried to turn. I now don’t have to even worry about knocking in an outdoor pen.
What was your favorite Penn-Ohio arena this year?
I would say my favorite Penn-Ohio arena this year would be Tri-State. That pen is a very long run to the first, which is where we excel. Most horses run past the first barrel there, but Mac never runs past it. I got first or second every time I entered that arena this summer.
Tell us about your saddle. What brand and style did you pick, and why?
My saddle is from Triple Creek Saddlery. I chose this brand because they use the same tree as the saddle I was previously running in on Mac. It was imperative to have the same tree because Mac is 19 and has a high wither and hollowed out back. I custom made it with a alligator seat, hand tooling, and Rodeo Drive conchos. I cannot express how much I love this saddle.
What are your goals for 2010?
My goals for 2010 are to attend some big shows.I plan on attending the Futurity and Jackpot at Circle G in March. I also am planning on attending the IBRA Nationals . I would like to get my young horse, Raz, to excel to her potential this summer.