Melissa Harding and Digby win the 2011 Humboldt CCA Rodeo

by Shayna on June 29, 2011

Recently we had the chance to talk with Melissa Harding of Estevan, SK.  Melissa and her horse Digby just won the ladies barrel racing at the 2011 CCA Rodeo in Humboldt, SK.  Harding and Digby ran a time of 12.37 seconds to win the rodeo.  Here’s what Melissa had to say:

Melissa Harding and Digby

-What is the name of your horse?  IM NO DAINTY CHIC aka Digby
-How old is he?  He is 8 years old
-How long have you been running barrels on him?  I got him as a coming 5 year old and hauled him with the other derby horses I had, but he didn’t start running until he was 6.
-What is it you like best about Digby?  There are so many things I like about him!  He is such an arrogant bugger with a horrible attitude.  He hates everyone including himself most days, but mostly he is tough and gritty and won’t back down easy.
-What kind of saddle do you use on him?  I ride him with a Black rhino saddle because it was the only one I could find to fit him.
-What kind of pad do you use?  Right now I am using a CSI pad, I switch them out lots though.
-What kind of bit do you use in him?  I have a few that I like.  Mostly I run him in a Mike Beers 595, but every now and then he will get a little strong on me so I will use a polo bit.  I work him at home in several different training bits.
-Are there any special shoes you use? What kind?  I have a break over shoe.  He is a really flat mover (or maybe more so a little bit lazy).  I use world racing plates or speed toes on the front and rims on the hind.
-Is there any special feed you give him?  Hay, and a mix of oats, sweetfeed and complete feed.  He’s a hard horse to have around sometimes.  He has a few small issues which would be no big deal except he can’t accept most “medicines”.  Due to this he is on a variety of herbal concoctions made up by a friend I call “the witch”.  The last two summers have been hard because he kept getting sick but we finally figured him out and now he is healthy again.  This will be the first summer I have been able to use him since we bought him.  His diet is very high maintenance!
-What lead you to be a barrel racer?  Not sure really, I grew up running gymkhana then a friend got me straightened out on what barrels is really about.  I then started going to some jackpots.  I haven’t really been a rodeo competitor until this year, I dabbled in futurities and derbies since I have so many young horses and it’s hard to crack them out into rodeos.
-Can you tell us about your training and riding style?  There are few ladies that I admire because they ride so “quiet” and I try to do that!  When I run I try and stay relaxed and let the horse do his job.  As for training, I try to just be patient and let them develop at their own speed.
-If you were to share a training/rodeo tip what would it be?  Be patient and listen to your horse, chances are if he isn’t working he’s trying to tell you something.
-What, if anything, have horses taught you about life outside the arena?  To pick your battles and have patience.  Work will pay off although sometimes you just don’t know when.

Here’s a video of Melissa and Digby running barrels.  Although it’s not from Humboldt we get to see their style, good run!

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