October 17, 2014
Last weekend was the last big competition of the 2014 games season. We ended with the 5th competition in the Mid-Atlantic Series, at the PG Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The weekend started off rainy and cold, which seems to be the annual forecast for this competition, but it cleared up Sunday and ended with sunny skies.
The facility had recently redone the drainage under the footing in one of the two arenas we use, and it was amazing and we were lucky to be in that arena for two of our three sessions. They have a felt/sand mix, and with the new drainage, there was no standing water or mud. Amazing footing.
Saturday morning started off the first session. We played 11 races, and I was not on top of my game. In Twitter race, I checked too hard and had to circle my cone for a placement, then I scooped and tossed my litter, more than once. Luckily it was not enough to crush the race completely. Later in the session, I had a hand off error to Averi. I think it was a litter stick, or possibly a flag. I felt like it was a clean hand off, I turned around my two team mates still waiting for their turns, and pulled up, before I noticed the drop. It was also a little out of character that no one was jumping up and down yelling. Old School is generally a pretty vocal team. The whole session was a little quiet for the whole team, me included. I suppose we were all still asleep.
The final race of the session was Ring the Cone. Which is normally a pretty decent race for me. I collected my ring, and rode to the C line to “ring the cone” and did not lean over enough, and with it being a metal ring instead of plastic, there was no wiggle room with this. Down the ring went. I tried to lean and scoop, although the excellent footing I remarked on above did not leave any space to really get my sword under the ring, and I just managed to flick it around. Again, and again and again. Nauseatingly, over and over. I was anxious to get off, because I was afraid I would not be able to get back on, particularly with the sword in tow. l eventually decided I had no choice as the ring flicked closer and closer to the fence marking the end of the arena. But as I suspected, remounting was not happening. My saddle was shifting, I had too many things in my hands, Poe wouldn’t stand still, and panic had long set in, you know, back when I was whacking the ring all over the place. Zoe was on Line C as an assistant referee and offered repeatedly to hold Poe, which is not allowed. But it was still tempting. Then I heard Dave yell “use the fence”. Well Duh. So I balanced the sword on the fence and climbed on, to a shameful feeling, but well-meant applause. Dave meant for me to use the fence to mount from, but just having my hand free made the difference.
I had started this race as our first rider and at this point I was the ONLY rider on the field. Nice. All the other teams were done. I went to the cone, ringed it, and finished at the A line. I destroyed that race like a champ. What a bad session for me. The rest of my team was pretty much on, so all fault for that session, was on me.
I regrouped over the lunch break, and returned for the second session with my game face back in place. It was a rather good session for the entire team, and we also seemed to have woken up and were talking and cheering for each other more normally.
While untacking at the end of the session the announcement was made that we were part of a tie with Red Solo Cup, for the last slot into the A final. The run off would be first thing in the morning, before the start of the B final. The tie breaker was Flag Fliers, and we joked that we would be practicing with headlamps on all night long. In the morning we assured ourselves we would have more fun, “yeah more fun!” in the B final, and we went in for the win.
I started the race and had a good run, staying mostly stride for stride with Matt, which is who started for Red Solo Cup. Averi went out, and gained a tiny lead on Sarah. Next was Carol Ann on Zeke, aka White Lightning, who grew that lead, and that’s what Red Solo Cup cracked, and knocked their cone. Kim finished our end up with a nice steady run, and we cleanly won the tie breaker and the slot in the A final. Then we all agreed, we were much happier in the A final.
We returned to the arena a few hours later, and enjoyed a nice laid back session. Linda encouraged me to take part in Bottle Shuttle, which I had been feeling insecure about. I rode in the third position, and over checked for my placement, but got it nice and clean. It was a nice confidence boost and I am glad Linda encouraged me to do it. I also went in High Low and completed my turn cleanly. Go Me! The whole team rode nicely, and we ended our season on a pretty good session, finishing 3rd in the competition. We also managed to finish 2nd in the series. This was only possible because Border Patrol had a rough start to the season and missed one of the competitions.
This competition was also the last one for me with team Old School. In a way it’s the end of an era for me, having ridden with Old School for the past six years, and for my entire tenure in this adult’s only division. Although my move was not a surprise change is still difficult. When I made the decision for this to be my last year with Old School, I felt we had shifted our focuses in different directions and it was hurting our friendships. As stated before, I made the decision to leave Old School to hopefully maintain the relationships I had developed with my teammates. I still think this was a good decision, and I am very much looking forward to a fresh new season in 2015. I am also looking forward to cheering on team Old School, and I wish them well.
One of the things I do not like about this competition, is that because we run two arenas, and keep the scheduled packed tight, it is almost impossible to see any of the other divisions ride. I got to watch a little bit of the intermediate while waiting to enter the arena and I really enjoyed seeing how the riders had improved since the beginning of the season. I watched Kaja on Buckwild make a mistake, and her on-the-feet quick thinking correction, showed how much she has matured in her game. I was rather impressed. The other girls on Buckwild have really stepped it up too. This team is HOT and I think has a big chance to dominate next season’s intermediate division. I have also been watching Whiplash a lot this year. This is a well put together and practiced team that is ready to move into masters. Bella in particular stands out to me as having really stepped up her game this season, reflecting specifically on her accuracy. Bella, being only one of the riders on a team of excellent players, they have all made a marked improvement this season.
I did manage to catch the majority of the Masters A final. Kimi was filling in on Punk Rock Ponies, and was an excellent choice for the team to pick up. Having watched this rider for the past several years, she is ready to come into her own. She has made marked improvement year by year, and next year is her year to really step out. A young gangly girl, she really handles the big ponies, with the big strides expertly. She is one to watch. I have also enjoyed watching Colton progress this year. He came back from an injury over the winter, and jumped back into the game. He is one that has made a maturity leap this year, and I look forward to seeing where 2015 takes him. Limitless, who is usually a smooth team that I really enjoy watching, was a bomb in the final. It took nearly the whole session for them to get there pace going and stop making mistakes. This was not their session. Inception took advantage of this and stepped up their game, finishing second. Matt is a rider who has really come along. He entered this season as a strong player, placed on a new team, and kept his game up to par.
I also managed to watch some of the fossil teams when they were riding in a heat opposite myself. Border Patrol. That team has boomed since the start of the season, finishing second at this competition with a huge lead over third. Next year, watch out, they may very well dominate. The ladies from Canada, Michelle and Lesly, mount their ponies using stirrups so quickly that each time I was left thinking they vaulted. And Ashley, coming back from a games hiatus, is in the game full throttle. Her pony Harley is quick, and you can tell she is putting some time in on the practice field. Combine these three with Dave and Lauren and you have some smooth games with excellent skills and very few mistakes. Time Flies, not to be outdone, is still amazing and took the win. TFs has dominated this year, and you can tell they put the work in to make it happen. Ashly on Pumpkin was a good move and Ann has really brought her home bred Morgan along.
2015 should be a fun year. I am looking forward to seeing who puts in some work this winter, and how all the teams shake out.
Riding photos by M Brown and B Pellet and Brenegan
Fun pics by me with my super awesome high quality iphone
Me and Poe warming up.
Ann with Averi in the background.
Coach Jessie carrying all the riders jackets.
Groppits gave me a shirt as a thank you for lending them Simon all season.
Simon took Devorah’s hat off!