Litter Scoop Work

April 24, 2019

Litter Scoop is a new race this year. It’s a pretty good race and once everyone gets it down it’s going to be sweet. I really like it although I am not exactly sweet at it (yet). I did a little practice on Sunday at it. Canter up, whoa, scoop, go. Possum was a little “WTF, go stop, go?” Being new to games still he is still working it out. And he still needs much steering which is still direct rein vs neck rein. Working on it.

I found I was best when completely stopped, scooped, went.

I also didn’t realize until watching the video, how little I was leaning. Glad I did a little video!

Mid-Atlantic #1 – April 13/14, 2019

April 22, 2019

Two weeks ago we kicked off to the 2019 MGAA season with the first installment of the Mid-Atlantic Series in Doswell, VA at the Meadow Event Park. We love this facility and it’s people. It is further south than the other venues we use so it makes a nice venue for the early and late ends of the season. We also have a massive field to ride in with near endless run off. Years past this field has drained really well and maintained excellent footing even with some wicked weather but this weekend that was not the case.

Reminiscent of last year, the rain started up about 15 minutes before I got home from work to hook up, load up, and leave on Friday morning. But I jumped to it and ran back in the house right before I pulled out for some additional dry clothes.

I arrived, had the ponies set up, met up and helped some friends, and moved into camp well before dark. The rain lulled for a while and gave everyone a little time to hang out and chat before it picked back up and then started back up making sure we were all in bed at a reasonable 9pm adult bedtime.

Saturday morning we were the last to ride so I started the day off coaching intermediate, then working Open, then helping in Leadline where Possum got his warm up. Then it was our turn for session 1.

Unfortunately I set Possum up for a very rough start by keeping him in the ring to adjust his tack while all the other ponies left, including Simon. I managed to get his bridle back on by the time my division rode in but by then he was rearing up and just acting like a fool. Val came over with Babyface and a few other lovely by-standards stepped up and I managed to get on, and just kept him moving. He was so tense and very worried.

(Photo: M Johnson)

We went over to the the last lane, number 8, and after a bumpy warm up bending he settled enough for me to take part in the first race of the season, speed weavers (bending). It went ok, clean but not spectacular. We did finish second through so clearly my team carried me.

We rotated to lane 1, next to the speakers, for race 2, Bank. He was scooting around and would not stand still so I opted to sit that race and Jon jumped in. Unfortunately since I was then out 5th I had to get off and go hold the bank board. Getting off was not ideal but it had to be done. My team won the race in clean style and when I got back Possum was rearing up and dancing around in Brea’s hands like the foolish pony he was pretending to be. It took a moment to get back on and Brea questioned him being afraid of the speakers. Which I flipped my hand at, just thinking he was still worked up from earlier.

Next up was Litter Scoop, which is a race I’ve been feeling strong at in practice. But in Session 1, I was tense and so was Possum. He was being very light on his front end and I was apprehensive to get a good lean. So I flicked the litter around a bit before carrying on which cost my team. It certainly could have been worse, and honestly I did not see how the rest of my team did since I was very focused on Mr P.

Four flag went surprisingly well. I opted for an outside turn vs my usual inside since Possum’s navigation and my leaning were both not up to their usual standards. He hopped a little but I don’t remember it being bad. We finished third so I suppose it was not horrible. This is a race that generally runs amazingly efficiently across the whole division with little to no pausing for the put in.

The next race I was in was Ring Race and Possum felt like he was going to duck out on taking a hand off so I over corrected and yelled for Jon to “ride into me”. But Possum did not duck out and there for I set us up for a collision. Possum did a little rear-turn to avoid the collision and Jon significantly slowed down so the actual collision was mostly avoided and was more of a friendly bump. I held on with all I had but I ended up on my backside in the mud. Jon was right there though and I was back in the saddle and onto the field in no time to finish up my portion of the race cleanly, although slow. We pulled a third here too so I suppose it wasn’t as awful as it felt.

Jon’s years of games really shows in these types of situations. He moves confidently and quickly with smooth precision and everything is perfectly thought out. It’s one of those – time stops – types of situations. And everything is fixed and moving on again in the most effective and efficient manner and nothing truly feels rushed.

Luckily I still had Two Flag to play in, which went fine and we took the win. It was a good note to finish the session on.

Focusing on just me and Possum right now, and diving into Session 2, the divisions were rearranged and we had 30 minutes to untack, grab food, and get back to the ring to work Open. Then I coached intermediate, mean while (the lovely) Jeri tacked up Possum and (the awesome) Caroline warmed him and Hero up. Caroline said Possum was going well and warmed up nicely and no sooner did those words leave her mouth then he reared up at her as I was about to mount up.

(Photo: M Johnson)

I admit this rearing thing was starting to get to me, particularly as I was mounting up, but I did manage to get on without any further incident and into the ring we went.

This session went much better for me and Possum. The real warm up certainly helped and although he was still tense and I had to keep him walking, I was more aware of what I was riding.

We finished the day and were back to camp at close to 8pm and I believe we were all whipped. We ate, Val set us up a nice little fire, and we managed some social time before we all crashed out around 11.

Sunday the divisions were shifted again, this time having us riding first which is my personal preferred time slot. It also meant I got to tack up and warm up my own pony! I do believe this helped immensely. We went into the ring feeling much more collected and prepared.

My team grabbed the first lane and this is when we learned that Brea was correct and Possum was not having the speakers. He was nice and calm until Anita started to talk over the PA and then he tensed up and started to shake and scoot around. In warm up bending I could hardly keep him lined up as he shied from the side lines where the sound was booming from, so I sat out and Carly jumped in. It took a while to get him to relax but he did keep all four on the ground for the entire day.

I jumped in on Twitter, Windsor, pony express, and so on. The only real issue was in two flag. I was over checking and he didn’t seem to get it and leaped when I went to place my flag. Nothing drastic.

I was happy with my four flag place which was done rather smoothly, and before we knew it the session was over.

I would say the third session was Possum’s best. I think partly because I was able to warm him up, partly because I knew what to expect from him, and also because it was his third time on that field.

I am going to try some ear plugs at home and then at the one day pairs coming up. I did not want to shove them in his ears mid session and risk worse behavior. I also need to relax and ride and have more confidence in myself. He really was not that rough, and being able to recognize the things setting him off is helpful.

I suspect his rearing is a tactic he is trying to get out of work. It did not work and hopefully we are past that soon. Rearing is not something I am comfortable with or think makes a nice photo or anything crazy like that. It needs to stop.

So we have some work to do. And I also want to give him some time doing some other things like trails and other non games stuff. Let him clear his head. He has been in hard games training since mid December when I got him and a little more variety would be good.

My team was amazing. I am always proud of them.

Jon is such a solid rock. His experience and logical thinking come in handy and his calm presence is an asset. He is also crazy insightful which is always appreciated. He pulled off some of his crazy moving stirrup mounts and picked up a lot of my slack filling in on the low leaning races. I am both sad I was uncomfortable doing those since the I have been feeling strong at the leans, but also really comforted that he was able to jump in and complete them. The last thing I needed was to go out and totally bomb some races and get more discouraged.

Matt is so good to have back. Another rock. He’s always good to go and willing to do whatever. I think he was let down he was not cleared (by us) to be vaulting yet (after all his surgeries we just wanted to be sure he was clear to vault) but will be back to springing on by MA2.

Val and Babyface have really come into their own. They looked awesome last year but this year BF has his job down. His speed is just killer and he was making it to the C line ahead of everyone just about every time. Now that he has added in the part of – what to do next – he is going to be unstoppable. I think he has already earned Most Improved Pony for 2019.

(Possum was a pig in his stall)

Carly really stepped up. She made one small mistake all weekend and just cruised along like a professional. This was her and Remy’s first real competition on a more serious team and they were completely in the game. I was so proud of her. She pulled her weight and some of mine, stepping in when Possum needed to sit and not only getting the job done but getting it done smoothly.

So the season only has to go up from here. Here’s to preparing for MA2!

Thanks Kim T for the video.

25 Rider Practice

April 8, 2019

Saturday was calling for gorgeous weather and the season starts next weekend so it was just right for a good practice session.

Val did the planning and made it an open invite. On Thursday it became clear that the numbers were high enough that it would be best to rent the ring so we could have it all to ourselves for the duration and not have to work around Or move any jumps or the dressage ring they often have set up at one of the ring. And we wouldn’t have to share the ring with any non games riders.

We were headed to the county facility, Woodstock Equestrian in Beallsville, Maryland and they were kind enough to process Val’s reservation through last minute. As mentioned in previous posts, Woodstock has a massive ring, decent parking, water, and there is cross country schooling and over 600 acres of trails. Anyone wanting to ride at the facility would still have access to all of that, as well as the ring before we started and after we were done. In fact non games people rode horses into the ring as we were pulling out.

We ended up with 25 riders from Open, Novice, Intermediate and O25. Some people started later than others and some finished earlier than others so we only had all 25 in the ring for an hour or so. But with 6 lanes set up and running everyone had a game to play and people to play it with.

Although we have been practicing all winter, we have only had one practice with the whole team mounted. Val, Carly, and I made nearly every Sunday practice, and the two of them managed quite a few other sessions as well. Jon made quite a few, bit Matt was not cleared to ride until about a month ago so he attended a few practices on foot and helped with equipment. We were lucky on Saturday and our whole team was able to take part mounted.

I brought Simon along for a newer player to ride. He seemed to have a really good time and Simon always enjoys working with newer riders. Possum was a bit wound up and screamy in the beginning. During and between games he would look for Simon but he came back to focus when I asked and still played his game. I am not sure how much of it was having Simon there and how much of it was being in a ring full of other ponies that had him charged up. He still pawed and did not always stand quietly but he quieted down after about 20-30 minutes. This all made it an exceptionally good practice for Possum and I on a distraction level.

We rode for about three hours. He started to slow down after about two hours and towards the end he was done done. Like get off now. The footing there is a bit deep and it was a lot of work to walk across on my own two feet so I know he was working.

Carly and Remy looked good. That pony cracks me up. He is bubbling with personality. Carly mentioned he was in isolation at home for causing trouble with the other ponies and they needed to prevent anyone from getting hurt due to his shenanigans.

Matt and Hero looked good as well. You wouldn’t know Matt has been out for nearly a year and just back on for a month.

Jon and Jeeter also looked good. Jon’s leans looked like they were particularly on point. And of course his mounts are just amazing.

Val and Babyface were lama-rocketing around like champs. That pony has really come along and Val looks she is still in her prime. Of course some of that is natural and some of it is experience/muscle memory, but Val also practices and rides everyday. She works for it and it’s showing.

So yeah, basically the whole team looked good. I might be a bit bias but again, the work being put in is shining through.

So that’s it, the last group practice for myself and Mr. P. before MA1. It’s crunch time! Packing and hacking all week!

My Hay Barrels

April 7, 2019

I have been using hay barrelS for quite a few years now and every so often someone will ask me about them, like today. Which was ironic because I made a new one today and took photos while doing so. Rather than linking to my old post about making them, here is a fresh new one.

But first, some info on my hay barrels.

It keeps the hay up off the ground (no hay pee piles here) and dry. Win and win.

It fits about a bale, depending on the size of the bale and the net and how low the net is attached to the barrel.

This is an easy project that does not need to be exact. I do not measure anything and just ball park and eyeball my way along.

Some of the steps can be done in different orders. So don’t over think it. Just do it.

Ingredients:

1 barrel – I usually manage to get barrels for free randomly. But even paid for they are cheap. Check Craig’s list and the recycling center near you.

1 large hay net – I prefer a slow feed type of hay net. Small nets will not work properly because the hay will not fall into them efficiently. I also use ones that have been busted up a bit and I no longer use in my trailer. I zip tie up any minor holes.

20+ zip ties – I prefer smaller ones for the barrel/net part and thicker ones for the lid. But I have used different sizes in different sizes.

Rope – a couple yards depending on how far it needs to hang.

A snap of whatever type.

A saw

A drill

Instructions:

The first step is to cut the bottom off the barrel. Throw away the end.

Next is to mark the lid. See the photo two below for the basic design.

I have found it is way easier to drill the holes into this section before cutting it out. You will need to drill 4-6 holes along the lid side and matching holes along the barrel part.

Now cut out the lid.

Drill 16+/- holes around the barrel. You will want these about a foot from the bottom of the barrel. It does not need to be exact.

You will then drill a matching set of holes about 1-2 inches above or below the other set of holes.

The final drilling is to attach the rope. I have done this a few different ways. I’ve put in screw eyes to hook the rope to. But the easier design, which is also my preferred design is to drill one large hole on one side about 1/2 foot from the top. And then two holes on the opposite side about a half foot from the top.

Next I like to attach the net. This is done with zip ties at the bottom of the barrel. Attach one end. It helps to make it even to then attach the opposite side of the hay net opening to the opposite side of the barrel bottom. Then the two other sides. So four corners. Then fill in the others as evenly as possible. Again this is not rocket science, it doesn’t need to be perfect, just get it done.

Next attach the lid. This is done with zip ties and essentially is putting the lid part of the barrel back into its original place.

Continue by attaching the long rope to the single large hole towards the top. I pop it through and tie a knot on the inside.

On the opposite side of the barrel at the top you will attach one end of a rope the same way as above. Then, making the rope short, attach the other end the same way so you have a small loop on the outside.

Snip off the ends of the zip ties.

Drag the barrel to its destined hanging location and throw the long rope over the branch, pole, beam, rail, etc that it will be hanging from. Hoist the barrel up so that the net is a foot or so off the ground. Attach the snap to the loop and then tie the long rope to the snap, fixing it so the barrel hangs easily at the height you want it.

*You want to try and have the net off the ground when full. But also low enough that you can load hay in the lid. For me this is a close science.

*I suggest leaving a good yard or two or even three of the long rope after the snap. Although the barrel doesn’t need to come down often, on the rare occasion it does I have found I am a bit vertically challenged with getting the rope back over the branch (beam, pole, rail, etc). Just trust me.

*I recommend cleaning the barrel well, and selecting food grade barrels if possible. I also recommend hosing the barrel out after cutting it so you remove any plastic particles and dust before putting hay into it.

*When I am filling my barrels I usually push the lip up and through the hanging ropes and that holds it open for me.

Here is a photo of one of my older hay barrels already holding hay

Thank you to my awesome husband Rich for helping me.

Final 2018/2019 Winter Practice.

April 4, 2019

This past Sunday was the last scheduled winter practice at Almeda Farm in Boyce, VA. We are sure to return in the fall or if the summer drowns is in rain like last summer.

This practice was small and laid back. I was on Simon since he left Possum’s back compromised with a bite in the saddle area. Val was on training project Izzy. And Jenny was on Hacksaw, and testing out a new tack combination.

It’s been a good winter with lots of practices and plenty of participation by different riders and ponies.

Now it is time for the season to step up!

Thanks Almeda, we look forward to coming back!

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