September 1, 2015
It has been a busy past few weeks. I got home from the amazing trip to England and Wales (which I still need to write a wrap up post about!) on Tuesday, unpacked, got in a few hacks and some groceries, washed and repacked, with three days of work in that mix, and headed off to the Sizzling Summer Pairs Competition held at the Jefferson Fairgrounds in Ranson, West Virginia.
This has been one of my favorite competition over the past few years. Its a relatively close and is an easy drive. It is pretty inexpensive, and it is very laid back but still competitive and fun. Last year I rode with Val, who is one of my regular teammates. We were both brought up through games with the same trainers and have similar styles that work well together. We rode together again this year as “Scoundrels”. Two of our other teammates, Matt and Averi also rode together as “Heads of tails” last year and again this year. It was fun riding together and at the same time also against each other.
I had also decided to take Simon and ride in a second division, intermediate, just to get in a little extra saddle time. I was super excited that my partner for that division was Mackenzie on one of her second string ponies. Wooo! I arrived Friday, set up and spent some time hanging with friends and even managed to fit in a light hack on Poe, who was rather hot after having two weeks off.
Saturday we started with the Intermediate division and I went into the ring on Simon with Mackenzie and I was quickly reminded of why Simon is my second string pony. My goodness he is slow. We loped through speed weavers, Simon happily plodding along, and me, already feeling my legs getting an extra work out.
The second race was mug shuffle, one of my favorites. Mack went first and I was behind the C line waiting to go second. Unfortunately a rider in the lane next to us had an issue with her pony, who bucked her off, somewhat to the side of Simon and I. Simon shied back and over a step from her and right into Mack’s path. She was going rather quick and we smacked.
We smacked hard.
My memory is fuzzy, and of course this all went by in the blink of an eye and I wasn’t fully aware of what happened at the time. I believe it was just Mack, myself and our tack smacking, and the ponies were perfectly fine. The girl who fell rolled up and collected her pony, Mack continued along the fence a ways before pulling up and dismounting. I slid off and stood there for a bit assessing what was wrong. I took note that one of my billet straps snapped. I suppose that’s why we have three, but the leather was not worn, cracked or rotted in anyway. My leg is what hurt the most, in particular my knee, ankle and foot.
Mack and I both left the ring, handing our ponies over to other riders to take them through a few races and prevent any residual fear that they could develop. Simon is such a drama queen I wanted to make sure he didn’t get too focused on the incident and all of a sudden become afraid of other ponies, games or some other residual fear he could create in his silly head.
Upon later inspection, Mack sustained a boxer’s hand break. She had a soft cast put on that night and plans for a hard cast soon after. My knee swelled, and hurt to bend. Averi jumped in with a knee brace and special anti-inflammatory gel and helped doctor me up so I could still ride with Val in our usual division. I already ride with long leathers, but I lowered my iron 3 half-holes (got to love half-hole leathers) so my knee didn’t need to bend at all, and climbed up on Poe (with a little assistance, thanks Patti, Kathy and Wendi!). Val was completely supportive and I went into the ring ready to ride.
Poe was initially a little irritated with me being a little unbalanced myself, and not helping him balance around tight turns. He attempted to buck a few times when I urged him on with only my left leg, while my right just hung straight down. My dunks were terrible, and without being able to lean very far I ended up pulling up to drop my equipment, vs dunk it at with some speed. It also took a moment longer to remount (which was mostly fear on my part) and I had to use my hand to recollect my right iron. All in all, I rode better than I would have expected and pretty much clean but not my best performance.
Val and I left the first session just a few points in the lead, which was a surprise to both of us. I was feeling a bit looser by the second session, although I still had to pull up for dunks, and I did miss my first carton dunk. just pure sloppiness. Of course my missed dunk killed us in that race. BOOO. We also had a down hand off in Hug a Mug. Again, my fault. I brought it in open-end to Val, who is a butt-end taker. Duh Krista. But we carried on, Val riding like the pro she is, and me keeping up my end.
Saturday night was fun. The green pony division rode for about an hour and a half, if not longer, going through game after game. The whole group was whooping it up and just having a fantastic time. Those of us spectating and helping set equipment probably enjoyed it as much as those riding, and yelled out a few cat calls to our friends in the saddle. An excellent catered cookout followed, and lots of socializing before an early bed call.
Sunday I was even looser and could manage to scoop my iron back onto my foot without hand assistance. although I still pulled up for drunks, actually I pulled up TOO much for dunks! This was not my best session and I dropped my last mug in mug shuffle. LAME! We had quoits race in this session, which requires me to remount twice since I cannot reach the bucket from Poe’s back (yet). But I was happy to have two clean remounts, and I even got the ball on the top of the cone pretty easily, which is a bit of a challenge for Poe and I on occasion. Poe expects me to be much quicker about it than I am. So its clearly something I need to work on. I also missed my second placement in 3 pot, and had to circle back. Again, LAME. Val called it, we really need to practice 3 pot race. I don’t believe I had any other errors, and Val rode excellent as always.
We managed to pull off the win, holding our champion pairs competition title from last year. Our teammates, Matt and Averi were 6 points behind us, also holding their reserve title from last year, followed by Full Tilt, Shameless and then Quicksilver.
It was an awesome competition. It was big enough to make it competitive, but also small enough to be laid back with ample social time, and a limited rushed feeling some competitions have.
Val was as always awesome to ride with. We really mesh well together and have very fitting personalities and styles that compliment each other. I also love hanging out with our other teammates Averi and Matt which we had ample time to do. And of course it was a joy to be able to spend time with all of our other friends, which is usually a little strained for time at other competitions.
It was one awesome weekend!
When I got home I found a huge bruise under my arm, along with several smaller ones under my other arm, along my side, hip, knee, down my leg and on my ankle and foot. They are healing up quickly though and are not holding me back. I dropped my saddle off at Martins Harness Shop in Dayton, Virginia to get my billet repaired. Mr. Martin is an older Mennonite gentleman that not only knows his stuff about leather and tack of all types, but can make magic happen. He looked at my billet and was impressed that it broke when it was in such good condition. He promised to have it repaired and ready for me when I get back from this week’s out of town adventure so I can start prepping for the next one!