Possum goes to Boot Camp

July 5, 2019

“Possum goes to Boot Camp” sounds like a children’s book doesn’t it?

Since I have been trying to rest my broken finger so it can heal quickly and keep me in the game for MGAA Nationals, and because Possum has some pony moves that need refining he can’t have a full week as a pasture puff before Nationals. But I am lucky to have an amazing friend and teammate who offered to let him come stay with her and to put him through her rigorous boot camp. Val is the perfect person to kick his butt into gear and teach him how to be a grown up pony.

Possum’s life precious to me involved a lot of pasture ornament time and living the easy lazy life. While he has miles he is still very green to basic foundation work, generally manners, and important games standards like balance. I’ve been working on all of that and battling his “pony-tude” but Val’s help is immense. I am not afraid to admit when I can use some help and I know Val has the ability and skills to jump in and get stuff done. I am so lucky to have her as a friend.

It’s also really handy to have a teammate that knows your pony and can help decipher and discover issues and improvements.

You will note in the photo below that Possum is pooped out. Val probably had three other horses to ride that day.

Val has ridden him everyday, taking him for work outs on the C&O, splashing in the canal, and of course games practice. She has also gotten Matt and Abby on him at practice which is all valuable work.

We have been discussing his idiosyncrasies, lack of balance, laziness, and general improvements and things to work on. I’m finding it extremely helpful and I am so extremely grateful.

I also think it will come in handy when training together. Val can chime in at other first hand knowledge on what I might be doing right or wrong or ways to better work with Possum.

I am picking him up Saturday and getting in a practice session while doing so. I am so excited to get back on him and work on some of the things Val and I have discussed. Val has been updating me with videos and photos everyday. It’s quite exciting really.

Not only has my finger healed quite a bit this week, and Possum did not have the week off, but he had expert training from a pro games player.

I don’t think o can thank Val enough. She’s an amazing friend.

Video of various riders making Possum work: https://youtu.be/OcgJJlQPfXs

If anyone needs help with a pony, I highly recommend Val’s pony boot camp.

TSRC Crystal Crown JPR June 29, 2019

July 4, 2019

Our JPR team for the day – left to right – Heather on Tag, Krista on Possum, Val on Babyface, Carly on Remi, and Tommy on Quibble.

Although I am supposed to be taking my riding lightly while my finger heals up a bit I had already signed up for a JPR (Judged Pleasure Ride) with some of my friends and there were no refunds (I checked). So clearly I had to ride, right?

We just happened to all pull into the venue in a line. One, two, three in a row. We checked in, had a chat and a mimosa and then tacked up.

It was a super hot sunny muggy day but luckily most of the ride was in the shade.

We were delayed on our start out time due to a back up at the first obstacle.

Obstacle 1 Video:

In this obstacle your time starts as you cross the cones, you walk to the mailbox, stop and stand, open the mailbox, remove a piece of mail, close the mailbox, and then ride to the other mailbox. Here you stop/stand, open the box, deposit the mail, close the mailbox and then ride through the end cones.

I went first on Possum and I was u sure how he would do. I have gotten the mail at my house on him quite a few times but this was his first obstacle. He did really well. I was super impressed.

Heather and Val has nearly clean runs, Remy started off a bit jumpy, and Tommy talked quibble all the way through.

Krista – 10

Val – 9

Heather – 8

Carly – 7

Tommy – 7

Obstacle 2 Video:

This obstacle has a white circle painted on the ground. You had to ride through the start cones and place your horses front hooves in the circle. Then do a turn on the forehand in either direction around the circle keeping the front hooves in. Then ride through the exit cones.

You would think this wouldn’t have been too hard for us. Our ponies cross lines all the time. But “lines” are not circles in the woods. Val and I were a mess. I never got Possum to touch the circle. Tommy sort of walked around it, making his own circle but did make contact. Carly got a little contact but was still pretty far from perfection. Heather was the most successful of the group.

This is the only obstacle any of us got as low as a 1 at.

Krista – 1

Val – 1

Heather – 6

Carly – 3

Tommy – 1

Obstacle 3 Video:

The Barrel Walk – in this obstacle you enter the course at a walk, collect the end of the pole from the jump standard, walk a circle around the barrel and standard, keeping the other end of the pole on top of the barrel. Then you replace the pole and exit the course.

This obstacle went pretty well for all of us. The only real issues derived from making too small of a circle and having the end pop off the barrel. I enjoyed this one.

Krista – 9

Val – 10

Heather – 7

Carly – 8

Tommy – 5

Obstacle 7 Video (this Obstacle was purposefully out of order)

This one was set up on the field in the sun. There were three bending poles with a shoot at the end. You trotted in and through the poles and then into the shoot and halted for a three count before trotting out. There were two wooden dog cut outs at the shoot.

The cutouts were scary to Possum and I think Babyface was a little u sure what this stop and halt after bending poles was all about.

Krista – 6

Val – 7

Heather – 7

Carly – 10

Tommy – 9

Obstacle 4 Video:

The Ghost. For this obstacle you rode in quietly at the walk, collected a rope that was hanging from a tree, then while backing up you pulled the rope to lift the ghost. You continued until all four hooves crossed a line on the ground.

The ghost was surprisingly heavy. It had rocks in it and if you released it too quickly it crashed loudly. I accidentally did that and Possum jumped. For the most part we were all successful at this obstacle just not as tidy as we should be.

Krista – 7

Val – 8

Heather – 7

Carly – 7

Tommy – 7

Obstacle 5 Video:

The walk on stuff obstacle. This obstacle was very short. Two jump standards marked the start, with a muddy spot just before it and a rug laying on the ground just after it. Touching the rug was a small wooden bridge which touched the edge of a tarp that finished up at a second set of jump standards to mark the end. It was maybe 10-15 feet long in total.

I did terrible at this obstacle. We did not touch any part of it. Tag marched on over like a champ. Everyone else successfully crossed but with jumpy ponies.

Krista – 2

Val – 8

Heather – 10

Carly – 5

Tommy – 5

Obstacle 6 Video:

The backing obstacle. For this one you rode in a shoot, turned right and after a few steps stopped and stood next to a jump standard with a bell on top of it. You rang the bell and then backed up the shoot to a second standard with bell. You range this bell then trotted forward and out.

Possum did pretty well at this one for not having the strongest back. When I got to the second bell we were too wide for me to reach the bell and in moving him over (not much lateral skills) Possum stepped out which lost us some points.

Carly was very similar to me and stepped out at the same point. Tommy and Heather has near perfect rides. Val’s run was much more entertaining. Babyface got stuck towards the end of his backing and reared up rather big, knocking the stand and such over. Val held on just fine and all was ok.

Krista – 8

Val – 6

Heather – 9

Carly – 8

Tommy – 9

Obstacle 8 Video:

The car wash. Ride forward and through the hanging tarp at a walk.

We all did really well at this one. Possum, Remi, and Quibble paused at it. But otherwise this was no big deal.

Krista – 9

Val – 10

Heather – 10

Carly – 8

Tommy – 9

obstacle 9 Video:

The flag carrier obstacle. Walk in and up to a barrel. Collect the flag, trot with the flag vertical around the cone and then break down to a walk at the line, placing the flag in the second barrel at a walk.

This was a fun obstacle too. Tommy attempted it all at a moving trot which was sort of funny.

Krista – 9

Val – 8

Heather – 7

Carly – 8

Tommy – 7

Obstacle 10 was – push the ball.

Using your horse only you push the ball through the standards.

Obstacle 10 Video:

This one was fun but took forever. There was a slight hill and the ball inevitably went down the hill and then it took some maneuvering to get it back up and to the side through the standards.

Heather has the least success with Tag being sure this was not ok. Remi kept trying to pick up the ball, biting it, but the rest of us were mostly successful.

Krista – 7

Val – 7

Heather – 3

Carly – 5

Tommy – 5

We got back, untacked and cooked out. Then we enjoyed the lovely provided lunch.

It was a really fun ride with some really fun friends. Although it was super hot and humid and it took forever, but really about four hours to complete. There was no where to really move out and making up some time either. They really could have cut some of the riding through trail to shorten it up some. I also felt like some of the judges were not consistent in their scoring, possibly too generous sometimes and not generous enough at other times.

I Broke My Finger – ugh

July 27, 2019

On Sunday I went on a trail ride and at the 10 mile mark, with two miles to go, I got my rein wrapped around my left ring finger. I pulled hard on the rein to get Simon back out of brush and onto the trail and the rein slid over the end of my finger and I felt the end of my finger snap. Crap.

I knew instantly. I quickly grabbed my phone out and was lucky I had service. I called my husband, Rich, who jumped in his truck to meet me at the trail head. Of course while he was driving he lectured me over the phone about riding alone, how much water did I have with me, was I on too long of a ride, and so on, but he showed up and met me at the busy road crossing to the parking lot.

Disclosure: there is vulgar language in this video clip.

Note: I am horrible at videoing and tend to think I hit record when I didn’t and then actually hit record when I want to stop.

On this ride I had been attempting to tape a little clip for my trail report blog post and apparently hit record instead of stop and had my phone in my hand (recording for a solid five minutes) when I broke my finger. You can’t see anything but you can hear my reaction.

Luckily the two miles I had to ride back were easy trail. Simon was also quite aware something was wrong and was perfect. I carried my hand up in the air, mostly resting it over my helmet to help keep it from swelling as much. I did find that deer flies took to landing only on that hand and now I have quite a few bites. I am not sure if this is because my hand was in the air above the rest of me or if they sensed with their evil fly senses that this hand was compromised and they should attack.

The parking is on the side of a mountain which rt211 passes over, and the trail head is across the road. It’s a relatively blind crossing and I lead my dog and pony across, one in each hand. In my compromised state I wasn’t sure how I was going to dismount without hurting my hand. I also wasn’t sure how I was going to lead them both across the road with one hand. Luckily I only had to wait a few minutes. Rich pulled up and came over and got Daisy and led her back to my rig. Then he helped me get off, which wasn’t nearly so challenging as I thought it would be, I basically just jumped off.

Rich was a champ and held Simon while I unsnapped everything and then he pulled my tack off and loaded up Simon and then my tack into the trailer and finally put a confused and upset Daisy into my truck.

I grabbed a few things and hopped in Rich’s truck and he climbed in mine and off we went. He took Simon and Daisy home and took care of them while I drove myself to Urgent care in Harrisonburg (I wonder why there is no Urgent care north of Harrisonburg until you reach Winchester). I continued to keep my hand up in the air, when I wasn’t changing gears, and I got a lot of waives so I assume people thought I was waiving at them.

On the way to urgent care I decided my finger was probably just popped out of socket and they would just pop it back in and I would be as good as new. Wishful thinking.

They took X-rays and sure enough, the end of my fourth finger showed a break even I could see on the X-ray. They put a splint on it and sent me home with instructions to see an orthopedic surgeon and I may take Tylenol for the pain.

Monday my finger showed minor swelling and some purpling. And I made an appointment for Tuesday with an orthopedic.

of course, I kept my team in the loop through all of it.

Tuesday I went to the RMH Sentara Orthopedics Center. I explained what happened at check in and was told, “oh the doctor is a horse person, this will be a good one for her”.

When the doctor came in she said, “so I hear you had a riding accident”. I said yes. “And I suppose you need to be back on your horse right away”. I laughed, yep.

My understanding is that the end of fingers is made of softer bone and it breaks more easily. It also gets limited blood flow and there is not too much they can do for it.

She advised me to take it easy on it because “I assume you have an important show coming up soon” and that I would want to be in as good of condition as I can for it. I should expect it to hurt for a few weeks and it could show swelling for up to a year. Crazy right?

They gave me a smaller splint and I was told I could wrap it in vetwrap.

On Wednesday (so three days after the break) I decided I needed to ride Possum and see how my finger held up. Getting on sucked. Surprisingly I didn’t think about it much, which is my normal down fall with mounting, over thinking it, and I just got on. And I smashed my finger in the process. That hurt. Holding my reins was awkward, as expected. And I was really wishing Possum had a solid neck rein (it’s coming) but all in all it was doable.

Although I took a Tylenol early in the morning, I did not have any pain meds in my system by the time I rode at 730 in the evening and it wasn’t too bad.

So I need to take it easy so I am at my best for MGAA Nationals in just over two weeks. And really my finger is not that swollen or bruised and it doesn’t really hurt unless I hit it on something.

Bottom line – I got this.

Trail Report: New Market

June 26, 2019

Sunday was gorgeous and I decided sort of on a whim to run out and go on a quickish ride. I followed the highlighted trail in the image below.

This is a trail I have messed around on, checking out side trails before but never really took on the loop. I admit I did not think too much about it and just dove at the opportunity to check out some new trails. I did not realize the loop was 12 miles or how challenging it would be.

Parking: For this ride I parked at the paved lot on the side of rt211 on the east side of the mountain. After racking up I crossed over rt211, Simon in one hand and Daisy on a leash in the other. On the other side is a pass between two hills. There is a closed fire gate with a little wooden foot bridge over the gutter on the side of the gate. I let Daisy off her leash but kept her with me until after this point and then climbed on Simon.

This is trail 410 and this part of the trail is really nice. It’s wide and clear and a bit rolling. It’s a good area to move out.

On this ride there was a section that smelled strongly of skunk. And later Daisy pointed out a turtle.

Eventually the trail makes a left hand turn, following the white blaze. Shortly before the two mile mark the smooth trail of 410 turns into more of a mountain track. And shortly after that this trail comes to a three way junction and orange blaze of Massanutten trail 408.

I took the right hand track into Massanutten Trail 408 (note how unhelpful the trail signs vs the trail map are at matching up). It is a decent although challenging hiking trail. And I checked the map that it is a multi use trail and open to horses. It is. I consider this portion of the trail to be a much more advanced riding trail. Some portions were narrow with drop offs and with an abundance of knee knockers, often at the narrowest points. There were some big jump ups and some extended climbs to navigate. Simon’s a good little climber and he kept his footing nicely on the narrow sections.

There was one point during an uphill climb that the trail passed over some boulders. I dismounted and climbed over using my hands and feet and Simon climbed along behind me playing the part of a billy goat. I wish I could have gotten a photo or better yet, a video of him navigating this section but my hands were way too busy. I would not consider this portion of the trail equine friendly at all and I did not see anyway to work around it. The Boulder section was probably a good 60 feet long to navigate.

The trail climbed and eventually we came to a left hand turn in the trail and on and up we went. By this point I was debating turning around. This was turning into a longer ride than I was prepared for. But with all the uphill and challenging sections I decided going back would be even harder.

Onward! And finally the trail came to a four way intersection. I admit I sighed in relief. I spent a moment comparing my map to my GPS to the trail signs and decided I was where I thought I was and I needed to make a hard left onto 555 Scothorn Gap Trail. And that yep, this trail was longer than Simon, Daisy, or I should be taking on.

I also met some people out on a hike. We stopped and chatted and compared what to expect ahead. They were hoping to find an amazing view or something of note. I thought of them miles later when I came across some memorable views.

I headed on 555 which was generally down hill but not too steeply. It was a wider, simpler trail. There was older burn to the right as I went down which opened to some ok views. Eventually the trail ended at a creek and to a small parking area off Crisman.

I made a left and rode along Crisman for way too long. I got off and hiked for a bit. But the road just seemed to never end. Finally I came to 408 Massanutten Trail and bore left off of Crisman. The initial part of the trail through here is amazing. It’s somewhat narrow but surrounded on both sides by bushes and wild blueberries.

This loveliness ends abruptly in a steep down hill climb. I dismounted here, and wishing I had on my riding sneakers vs my smooth bottomed riding boots, I clambered down the mountain, using tree branches to help me down. Meanwhile Simon bill-goated along behind me, munching on leaves.

This downhill seemed to go on forever and took forever. When we finally made it down the mountain it rolled right out at the split closing the loop. Ah, just little over two miles to go and after a very brief climb it would be easy trail too. Again I sighed in relief.

I made a right onto 410 the Massanutten connector trail (note again no match up in names and numbers from trail map to trail sign) and hit the homeward stretch. Coming up from the split and just about creating the final small climb Simon smashed off trail and into the some briars. He loves to run through underbrush to scratch his belly and this often runs me into briars. Which it did, I yelled at him and yanked him back over to the trail. Unfortunately the rein wrapped around my ring finger on my left hand and I felt a snap.

Yep, I broke my finger.

Let me finish this report up by stating that I had about two miles left to go and luckily I had cell reception and my loving husband picked up when I called and rushed out to meet me at the trail head. I’ll detail the finger on my next post.

The ride was grueling and a real work out. I am glad I went the direction on the loop I did, and wouldn’t recommend the other direction. I wouldn’t have been comfortable on a different pony either. And it’s also not a trail I am excited to go try again. I would like to check out some of the ones down Crisman though.

Obstacle Play Day at Home

June 25, 2019

A couple Rogue team members are doing a JPR next weekend and I want to take Possum to give him a change in environment and job.  In preparation I set up some scary things at home to school through on Saturday. I started on the ground, introducing him, and then mounted up.  

I put down a smallish tarp which he was a bit apprehensive of. Tarps are not something he is comfortable with. But after looking at it and sniffing it he lead over it nicely.  Later we rode over it several times nicely ae well.  Score.  


I also have a tractor tire that he has walked through previously. He didn’t blink and eye at it and walked through both lead and mounted without batting an eye.  He is a smart pony and doesn’t usually take much to get accustomed to new things.  And once he has accepted something he is generally solid with it.

I drug out and set up a baby pool. I didn’t have anything simple and non messy to put in it and wasn’t too sure what I planned to do with it. So I led Possum over to it with no real expectations and let him check it out. He was nervous but also curious. He pushed it with his nose and pawed at it with his hoof. I stepped into it, making lots of noise, he tended but then moved back in and stepped into it with his front hooves. When I stepped out he stepped all the way in and sniffed all around it. I allowed him to step around in it a bit on his own. He spooked himself stepping back out but was happy to turn back around and investigate it some more.

I initially did not intend to walk him into the pool so I had no intention of riding him through it.

Pool noodles proved to be a challenge at the Obstacle fun day I took Possum to a few weeks back with Heather and Joan. He seemed to process and generally accept them after some time but he never fully relaxed with them. This is the first he has seen them since then and although he smelled them and pushed one with his nose he then marched on through them. When I rode through them, he actually stopped in the middle and stood quietly on his own for s moment and then reached back for a treat. This pony can be reached through his belly.

I set up a gate using a rope and two jump standards. We rode through this smoothly, using one hand on the rope and one on the rein like Possum knew what he was doing.

Finally I set up a flashy version of three pole mug shuffle. On the first pole I taped aluminum chafing pans. There was a minor breeze and lots of sun so they wiggled and reflected light. Possum gave these a healthy inspection but not showing any fear, just interest. On the second pole I taped four pin wheels. These also reflected some light and of course spin with the breeze. Just like with the first pole, Possum checked them out, liberally nosing them but other than interest he showed no care. At the third pole I attached a string and ran it to a super tall cone. The string had pompon like streamers hanging from it. Possum was interested, but just like the previous two poles he was simply curious.

I mounted up and shuffled a mug back and forth and around the three poles. Possum did want to push the trinkets around with his nose, such a curious pony, but we shuffled like professionals.

He was such a brave boy

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