2014 Mid-Atlantic #5

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

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I love a (Val) photo bomb (of Jackie)!  1901990_766715804373_4440436882026665309_nThis was a really bad attempt at spelling out MGAA!  = total fail!

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Averi – Needle and Thread – Lauren in the background.  10703702_766715734513_5864555014048454907_n

Zoe and Matt.  10696366_766715624733_4012871058118199658_n

Me and Poe warming up.

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Ann with Averi in the background.

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Coach Jessie carrying all the riders jackets.

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Groppits gave me a shirt as a thank you for lending them Simon all season.

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Simon took Devorah’s hat off!

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Stirrup Biting

October 8, 2014

Last weekend at the Mid-Atlantic #4 competition something odd happened that could potentially have been disastrous.

 

It was the second session, I had gone first in a race and was done and cheering on my team behind the A line. Poe was biting my stirrups, which is something he does when he is anxious. All of a sudden, he started to flip out and spin. I quickly dismounted and stepped out of his way to assess the situation.  He had gotten my stirrup caught in his mouth and around his lower jaw. He was pulling away, which only made it tighter, and spinning in circles. I spent a quick minute or two trying to calm him down so I could get close enough to remove it, and we were lucky he stayed behind the A line, mostly in our own lane, and did not interfere with any riders. I finally managed to grab the stirrup, which was securely wedged in, and with a bit more effort than expected, managed to lever it fee.

 

I got lucky on many accounts here. The first being that when he initially freaked out, he did not rear up and flip over on me, which is what it felt like he was about to do. I was able to get off relatively unharmed. He did step on my instep, which swelled that night and is still slightly bruised in color and to the touch. He stayed moderately calm considering the amount of panic in his eyes, and did not hurt himself, any other ponies, people, or my tack. I use plastic composite irons and he is in a Little S Hackamore instead of a bit, and they did very little damage to his mouth, just causing the smallest nip on his tongue and a trickle of blood. And, as any games rider would agree is important, I had already gone in the race and my team was able to continue and finish the race.

 

Stirrup biting is an action Poe has been getting more invested in over the season, and I have not bothered to stop him. I should never have allowed it to develop. When I climbed back on for the next race and we were packed again with our team in our lane, Poe immediately reached back to grab my stirrup. It is certainly a nervous habit, and not something he does at home, and is something I am going to have to put an end to in the competition arena.

2014 Mid-Atlantic #4 – 9/27-28/14

October 6, 2014

The last weekend in September was the Mid-Atlantic #4 competition in Centre Hall, PA at the Grange Equestrian Center. Poe and I were geared up, and excited to compete on team Old School.

I felt pretty good going into the first session. Poe was a little fidgety, which I later attributed to him being itchy, but we rode pretty well. I made an uncharacteristic mistake, which was simple sloppiness on my part. In Tack Shop race, on the return, I placed the toolbox on the barrel, and did not have enough stick and follow through and it fell. Poe cooperated and I was able to complete a quick correction, remount and finish the race. I also had a hand off blunder, which was again, out of character. I started Balloon race, and was off center after a clean pop, but unable to get lined up for a smooth hand off, and had to circle back around. It was also very unusual for Poe to not respond to me and move his gallop into a handoff path. He was also extra fidgety after the race, and just felt irritated. I decided to attribute this error to his itchiness. Not that being itchy is an excuse. I should have ridden him better. As a team, there were a few more mistakes than usual, but not a bad session at all. We finished the session in fourth, well behind the top two teams.

The second session also went well. I felt like we were all more “on” as a team. I was extremely happy with Poe and myself. We started a lot of races, which Poe is starting to excel at. I do need to trust him more, and know that he is going to check up when I ask him to. Meaning, I need to ride to the end, then check up for my turn, or ride to the obstacle, then check up for my skill. I am asking for my check way too early, and since he is so responsive, we are losing ground there that we could be gaining. All in all a good session for the whole team, and we left the arena in third, with a large gap between us and the first two teams.

Saturday night was fun as usual. Zoe, Averi, Brenden and I enjoyed a pot luck dinner consisting of pot roast, those cookies that are glazed that we all love, and Zoe brought bacon wrapped stuff (dates, mushrooms and broccoli). Sooo good. We stopped by Camp; Carol Ann, Linda and Kim for some smores, and managed to fit in some more socializing with our other favorites, getting our chat on with Kathy, Janey, Nancy, Sissy, Whiplash, Matt and a whole bunch of others before hitting the hay.

Sunday we rolled into the final 15 races, feeling good. I did pull myself from quite a few races that I have not been performing my best in, keeping the team’s needs in mind.  Poe and I continued to start a lot of the races, and I felt like my trust in Poe’s checks was slightly better than the previous day. I had a close call on my sword ring pick up, but got lucky and it went clean. Ball and Cone was our nemesis and I completely killed the race. Poe would not stand when I leaned over, and would get too close to the cone. I finally managed to get it on but it rolled right on off. Lame. I hopped off and fixed it but then I could not get myself back on. Poe would not stand and I was quickly beginning to panic. Linda, who was just behind the A line behind me, reminded me what a good teammate she is. She called me to her side, and held Poe while I mounted up. It was quick thinking and a smart move on her part. She talked me off the panic wall while I climbed on, and I could feel my confidence steadying. It was one of those times, when riding with people that KNOW you, really pays off. I remounted, and finished the race, although I caused us to finishing second to last.

The rest of the session went well, for myself and for the team as a whole. We managed to hold our 3rd place spot (152pts), with no hope of catching up to the two top teams who had been battling it out all weekend, but we did accumulate a spread behind us. Time Flies managed to get the best of Border Patrol for first (211pts) with BP in second (205pts). Red Solo cup came in behind us (124pts), followed by Groppits (107pts), Antiques Roadshow (94pts) and Young and the Restless (90pts). TFs finished first or second in all but one race, Canadian, in the 3rd session! Border Patrol finished first or second in all but three of the 15 races. Old School managed to take first in two and second in two races. RSC is the only other team to finish first or second in a race in the final session, winning the Canadian Race.

I did not get to watch very much of the Intermediate division at this competition, although I usually enjoy seeing the riders stepping up their skills, and I will be sure to catch some of their ride this coming weekend at MA#5. Whiplash did manage to pull the win in the A final (62pts) after battling it out with Buck Wild all season long. Buck Wild finished second (54pts), followed by Wicked (43pts), Flying Squirrels (34pts), and Trouble (29pts).

The Masters A final was a good spectator sport as always.  Northern Heat, did not make the cut and were the winners of the B final. I enjoy watching that team and some of the rider pony combinations on it are really outstanding. Punk Rock Ponies was handicapped as a four man team, with Regan absent. The Calhoun sisters were riding hard, and as smooth to watch as always. Mack and Inky were looking good on Limitless, until Mack took a knock to the head in Ball and Cone. She was still spectacular, getting the hit in the head after placing her ball, and still managed a clean speedy pick up and handoff before being pulled from the rest of the session. Kelsey and Muffin are another pair that I love to watch. That pony eats the field with her stride and Kelsey has the skills to go with her. Jessie was on an older pony of hers, and not her usual ride. She rode well, although, not evident in other divisions, you could see the lack in this pony’s speed compared to the masters A field. Limitless pulled off the win (78pts) followed by Punk Rock Ponies (71pts), Adrenaline Rush was 10 points behind in third (61pts), followed by Crash (57pts) who won a tie breakers with Inception (57pts), Rush Hour (46.5pts) and Get Lucky (44.5pts).

As always an excellent competition. Only one more leg to the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Series, and my last ride on team Old School.

Photo creds: riding photos by Genevieve Arens of EquiStar Photography.
Except the Sword – Ring the Cone photo by Brenegan.
Announcer booth banner photo: Vassallo
Other camp pics: me :0)

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Getting There… slowly.

October 7, 2014

I have been struggling to get myself into better condition, and this is often how I feel.

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Competition Weekend!

September 25, 2014

I am really excited for this weekend’s competition in Pennsylvania.  It is leg four of the Mid-Atlantic Series.  I started packing last night, and will finish prepping tonight.

Poe is always ready to kick some ass.

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Photo: Matt Brown, The Great Frederick Fair, MGAA individuals, September 2015

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