Driving Simon – August 7, 2019

August 7, 2019

I hooked Simon up to his cart for the first time in about a year and a half. It went particularly well.

Since it’s been so long I started off by ground driving him for a few minutes with a few Whoas and Stands. Then I attached the cart and walked behind to the field with some more Whoas and Stands.

Next I had him Stand for a solid three minutes before I got into the cart. He was all business and stood like a statue except for a fly stomp.

We drove around the field, wove through poles, did a couple Whoas and Stands, and did some “come around” turns for about forty minutes. I think all of this was very good for his mind. Lots of thinking and a complete change in activity.

I have no driving background or experience and am essentially cowboying it. Today really reminded me that I should get a lesson from a professional. I think I will set one up at the end of the games season. I would like to learn the basics and I also want to make sure Simon is properly and comfortably hooked up. I wouldn’t ride him in tack that didn’t fit so I don’t want to drive him in tack that’s not well fitted either.

I also noted that he seems more annoyed at the blinkers than I think they help. He seemed frustrated when he couldn’t see things. And he seemed more “looky” since he couldn’t look. I think I’ll try him in an open bridle and see if that is an improvement.

The over check also seems to frustrate him. I had it set how a friend had set it originally and when I released it he stretched hard. So I loosened it up and he seemed much happier. I’m not positive he needs it. But he is a fat-butt and may snatch at grass if he doesn’t have it to stop him.

Things to try and lots of things to learn, I’m looking forward to some more driving sessions. I think I’ll do a little googling now and see what info I can absorb.

A Nostalgic Games Practice / August 31, 2019

September 2, 2019

Sunday was back to Woodstock Equestrian in Darnestown, MD for a games practice. This time we were joined by the Nostalgia games team. This team is made up of some older games players that have been away from the sport, and for some, away from horses, for a over a decade (15 years even!). They have joined forces to make a come back at the Mid-Atlantic #5 competition being held in two weeks in Leesburg, VA. The riders have been taking part in practices for the past few months, honing their skills and getting their riding muscles back while learning some of the new races and getting acquainted with the new equipment.

We had a nice group of eleven for this practice and managed to run roughly two to three games at a time rotating through a nice list of games in two hours.

For my own ride I really focused on riding and not getting caught up chatting too much. This is a weakness for me since games practices tend to also be my social time and I am very social. Possum had three weeks off while I was away, he did the one day Pairs right when I got back and a few hacks out at home through the week but he has lost some of his stamina. We went hard for the first hour, moving from lane to lane quickly and he was starting to get tired. I slowed the pace and gave him some rest breaks between races after that but by the two hour mark he was done and was sure to let me know.

I did take note that he did a good job going straight for the first portion of practice but as he started to get tired he was less straight and tended to fall in on myself, and at times felt disconnected from front to back. I feel like this is progress since he used to not be straight the whole time.

This is also the first games practice where I was truly focused on technique with him and not just basic games patterns, staying straight and close but not too close to equipment. Progress! It was a big step up milestone in his training. I worked on harder S turns and cut ins and moving out more for placements and picks since I was gaining a good games check vs just a whoa or an unpredictable amount of check. I also worked on my check and whoa-stand timing and felt I was much closer to where I want to be. I am particularly happy with our association and four flag.

I also put a little work into three mug and did balloon, which he is still shying from on his first real pass. He is fine with balloon at home, and away from home he is fine walking past it and the noise, but he still says on his first moving pass. There is progress with it but it’s still a project. I assume one day I’ll go to do balloon in a practice with him and he won’t shy and it will be a surprise to me. “He got it!”

It was a really fun practice and well worth the drive and effort. I met up with my parents for dinner before driving back home and had a lovely time with them. This made the trip a bit more worth while since a Woodstock practice tends to be a full day event for me with a good solid 5 hours of driving round trip.

Two weeks until MA5! Bring it!

Trailer Maintenance: Replacing the Trailer Jack

September 1, 2019

While I was out of town for the 2019 International Trip, our amazing neighbor did some welding work on my trailer. If you need a welder this dude is fantastic!

When I got back I decided to continue the trailer maintenance and replace the trailer jack. This was mostly a necessity because the inside mechanism had become bent and it was getting harder and harder to hook and unhook the trailer. The final straw was having to get my husband’s help to wind it high enough to unhook it.

I searched around and found that you replace the whole piece not just the inside and it was actually pretty affordable. I did some measuring and decided I wanted the top part to be slightly shorter but could take that up on the under side. So I picked out a trailer jack on ETrailers.com.

There were plenty of jacks to pick out. I selected one that was rated for well more weight than I needed and had the correct amount of lift. I considered the electric ones which were way more affordable than I would have thought but ended up selecting a gray economy one by Bulldog that would match my trailer. It was about $65 after shipping and arrived in about three days.

Full disclosure, my husband did the actual installing. He used some DW40, some jack stands, and a ratchet wrench. The whole process from collecting tools, changing the jack out, to putting the tools back away took about 10 minutes. It was way easier than either of us expected.

First we sprayed DW40 on the three nuts. Then we wound the trailer up and put the two jack stands under the hitch bars, one on either side. Then we wound the original jack down, putting the weight on the jack stands and none on the actual trailer jack. Next my husband used the ratchet wrench to loosen and then remove the three bolts. This was the hard part and took a bit of arm strength.

Once the bits were off the old jack was easy to remove and the new one was easy to slide right into place. The nuts were put back on and tightened down and then the new jack was wound out and the jack stands removed. Done.

We both wound the jack up and down a little. It turns way easier than the old one but not as easy as we both expected. I put that to it being the economy model and that it is lifting quite a bit of weight. I don’t recall any other trailer ever being any easier than this new one.

Two days later I hooked up the trailer and the new trailer jack worked just fine. That night I unhooked it and it worked great. I am completely satisfied with this project and still amazed that it was easier than expected.

Gambler’s Choice Pairs Fun Day – 8/24/19 – Woodstock Equestrian Center

August 26, 2019

One of our games friends has been off for military schooling for the past year at the Citadel in South Carolina. He is home briefly and to give him the chance to see his games friends and take his pony for a spin Stacey set up a one day gamblers choice pairs. Sadly on Friday Coltin was diagnosed with a couple stress fractures and could not ride. That’s a hard break.

The rest of us still had a fun day catching up with him and riding our ponies. We had two heats of O24 pairs, including myself. I was paired with Rachel – making a games come back after a several year hiatus – and in the second session I was paired with Ashtyn.

I was freshly home from the 2019 MGAA International Trip and has not been on my pony since MA4, for three full weeks. If I had been on my old pony Poe or even trusty Simon I would have known what to expect. But this is the first time since I purchased Possum he has gone without riding for anywhere near that long so I went in with nervous expectations. But I am happy to say I was very pleasantly surprised. He was fantastic. He retained all of his games training and the new calm he exhibited at MA4! He even moved out!

He even made the trip as the only pony and stood tied to the trailer for several long periods of time all on his own. This was something else he needed work on so I am very pleased I was able to give him this challenge and that he did so well at it.

The O25 riders

Now I really need to focus on the flat work to get balance and flexibility to the right and work on him carrying himself straight.

Paxton and Dexter built a volcano. She’s standing in the lava there like a champ. They were digging all day. Dexter said he would dig me a hot tub for $40 and 99cents and a pool for $100 and 99cents. Plus meals. Sounds like a deal to me!

It was a really fun day. I hope we can do some more in the future. It’s such a good opportunity to work on skills and just have fun.

Here is a very brief clip of O25. I just love the cheering and the ohhhs, and ahhhs.

The open riders

Day 14 & 15 – The End of the Trip – International Trip 2019

August 21 & 22, 2019

We woke up Wednesday morning and were bid farewell by Amy and Carys on their ponies (in the rain). They rode down from the farm to where we were parked for the night to give us all a final hug.

After some hugs we loaded up and began the trek out. But on the way out we swung by Pritchard’s. This tack store is a maze of rooms and floors with lots of neat stuff to dig through. A few gems were found and purchased this year.

Next we hit a super Tesco for some snacks for us and as gifts to take home.

Several hours later we rolled into Yate Farm for the night and were greeted by the kind staff.

This began showers, packing, cleaning, and eating as much of the food we had left as possible.

Mikayla and Abby F headed up the cooking.

Sadie took on dishes and Abby R cleaned the bathroom and swept. (I’m sitting on the bottom bunk). Jesse cleaned out the cabinets and then the fridge. Abby F assisted and everyone showed appreciation for her taking on cleaning the fridge.

And we made friends with the camp cat and named him Sebastian.

Everyone worked really hard to get everything cleaned up and ready.

(I snuck this clip of them all singing)

It’s the last night together and the team is goofier than ever. They are piling on top of each other and singing songs together. When the lights went out they all five climbed into one bed together and giggled until after I had fallen asleep.

Today is the day we drop off our camper, and then take three trains and a plane to get home.

This team has been amazing. They have all pulled their share of the weight and jumped in and helped each other in all activities. They have cleaned up after theirselves and each other, taken on all camper chores, cooking, and cleaning, and done it all with smiles and happy conversations.

They have all gotten along and played nice the whole trip. Which is saying a lot when you live in such close quarters. They are sharing beds and have been packed into a tiny camper literally stepping over each other.

And most importantly they have all been respectful and polite at all times to each other, to me and Carly, and to everyone we have met. They have been fun and enjoyable and just wonderful people to travel with.

I’ve enjoyed each team that has taken on this adventure over the years, but this year’s team has really worked out as a real team.

I am so proud of them.

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