I'm a little behind on posting, so here are current-update snippets!
#1: I ended up as the volunteer coordinator for our very-local ride. The original plan had been to have someone else take the ride on 'Fetti -- I knew I could not adequately watch everything and coordinate the day-of for the first time while also riding, at least not on a course with limited cell coverage! Despite some last-minute scrambling, the pony ended up riderless and got the weekend off.
However.. it turned out that for whatever reason, the course rode much harder this year, and I am so, so grateful I did not send an inexperienced endurance rider out with reassurances that the horse could totally do it in time, only to find that in fact making time was really hard this year. I would have worried, they would have worried. Frankly, even if I'd ridden it, I would have wondered all day what the hell I was doing wrong that we weren't making good time. No one was -- but riding back of the pack, I would not have known that until we finished. I wish things could have worked out differently... but it was good that they didn't.
#1.5: Also, nothing went spectacularly wrong for me as volunteer coordinator. Yay!
#2: On a whim, I emailed the saddle fitting folks again, and they got back to me within a few hours. I have no idea what happened the first time. In any case, we now have a date set and I'm hopeful I can get some saddle answers.
#3: We're still dealing with the aftermath from that one lesson/training ride fiasco at the end of May. This really deserves its own post. Short version: Fetti learned that if she resists long enough she doesn't actually have to go forwards. This comes up periodically, I've never 100% squashed it, but I 100% lost the discussion in the training ride. She's now doing this at the barn when alone and pointed out towards the entrance to the trails. While this sucks, it is consistent and easy to replicate. If I could afford to fly Dom out and fix this one issue right now, I'd totally do it. We're a little trainer-shy currently.
I will add: mare is not afraid. She's stuck in front and quite behind my leg. Once we get past her 'sticky spot' where she goes sideways/backwards/spin/full avoidance of forwards? Totally fine. Battle over. Where are we going? Trotting off? Cool, whatever.
#4: For the first time ever, I have a full set of boots plus spares. Not that the spares are pieced back together yet, and not that I've put the boots actually on the horse, but I have boots and I'm very excited.
#5: Our solo rides are keeping to a respectable 4.5-5mph overall speed most of the time. This makes me happy.
#6: I turned Fetti out in the arena yesterday before our ride and chased her around a bit. It's all a game to her. This time, though, she'd sprint a lap or a half a lap, then occasionally pause and ask to come in for scratches. I'd scratch her face, tell her how lovely she was being, back up, and give her a verbal OK.. and she'd sprint off again. Rinse, repeat. Eventually she decided she was done and stuck with me when I backed up. What a good mare.