Popsicle Pairs 3 – 2019

March 19, 2019

This weekend was the third and final Popsicle Pairs for the year.  The first one was Possums first time out and as I said at the time, he was like driving a car around with the alarm going off, loud and anxious.  I was not able to make the second PP but Jenny was amazing enough to host Possum for the week and get him there and teammate Jon was awesome and rode him.  I was told he was much improved.

Myself and Matt chatting between races.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

The first two were held in the covered arena at PG Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.  The third was at the large outdoor arena at Woodstock Equestrian Center in Darnestown, MD.  This venue would be amazing if it put in stalls and more parking.  It is something like 600 acres of trails with a cross country schooling area, and the large arena has jumps and a dressage ring that can be set up.  This is the same location that Val hosted my 40th Birthday Games Competition at.

Leigh Anne had her first go at being a ref and did a great job.  She also, rode, ring crewed and scored!

The day started off quiet chilly, but it was very sunny and when the wind died down it was sort of warm during the apex of the day.  Val was organizing, and she broke us down into four heats.  Novice/Green pony and three heats of “Mixed” which was a combination of Intermediate, Open and O25 riders.  I paired up with Fred and we were in Mix 3 for the day.

Hug a Mug – Possum and I rolling along. (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Possum was a bit anxious when we started out, but after the first few races he settled down.  Other than the first PP, this was the first time I have been in a location with enough space to let him really run with some speed and he really enjoyed it.  He kept checking in during the sprints in session one, “you sure I can keep running?”  He didn’t so much bow away from equipment like he has been doing with some stuff at practice as he would sort of scoot a little at the last moment.  Nothing bad and I didn’t miss anything, but just enough of a scoot that my bottle would end up on the edge of the barrel and not the center, or when I placed the toolbox down he scooted just a smidge and I drug it sideways just a bit.  All in all a big improvement.

Val organized, rode and ring crewed, all with a big ol smile on her face. 

For session two he entered the ring quietly, and he seemed to have one of those clicks where he put some of it together.  Run, stop, turn, run, check, turn, run, stop, etc.  He really seemed to genuinely enjoy playing, and was very happy to work.  This pony has such a good attitude.  He did not scoot or bow at anything in the second session except the dreaded balloons.  I did pop them but it involved circling the board and reaching very far while he faced them head on.  except for balloon, I am so proud of Possum!

Elise on Possum in Hug a Mug looking way more like a badass than I did in the same race on the same pony.  (Photo: Genevieve Arena)

After I hopped off from my second session, Elise hopped on and rode him in the final session of the day.  I figured an additional session would be good for him and it would also be good for me to see someone else riding him.  And it was! Elise did a fantastic job with him and made him look amazing.  she pushed him through his turns and he was quick and responsive.  It was certainly a boost for me to see what she could do with him.

Caroline attempting to pop Sadie’s temporary butt implant (a balloon).

As for the rest of Gone Rogue, Val and Jon were in mix 1 and looked amazing.  They won both of their heats against some top Open players.  Babyface has really come into his own.  He was lama-rocketing around with precision and skill like the truly made games pony he is quickly becoming.  Val whipped her skills out at top speed, and together they looked amazing.  Jon was also amazing.  That guy has some skill that just won’t quiet.  I think some of it is from starting games at such a young age, he just has the muscle memory to be amazing, because he always has been amazing.  Jeeter was also right up there running like a pro. These two and their ponies did the team proud.

Val rocking through Hug a Mug (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Matt rode in the same Mix as Fred and I.  Matt has only been back in the saddle for about two weeks after his very long injury recovery.  I did not get to see much of his ride, but what I did see looked great.  He wasn’t pushing too much and was getting himself and his pony back in stride.  Him and Hero make a really nice pair.

Sadie showing off her temporary butt implant (a balloon down the pants).

Carly was in the second mix with Leigh Anne and they looked like they were having a great time.  Remy is another pony that is really coming into his game and stepping up this year.  Carly had done a fantastic job bringing him along and making him what he is.  And Carly too.  For coming to games so recently, the pair of them have really improved quickly.  Carly did have a small silly tumble at the end which I did not see but I hear it is on video.  She was unhurt and laughed it off.

Caroline preparing for a sock dunk (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

In sum it was an awesome day.

Jenny worked her butt off doing ring crew when she wasn’t riding.

Carly rolling through Hug a Mug (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Sadie and Caroline being too silly.  They entertained me all day long. 

Possum and I in either two flag or 3 pot flag.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Jenny on her new pony Hacksaw.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Teammate for the weekend, Fred (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Sadie killing it in 3 pot. (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

I love when photos are synced up like this.  Aidan and Nike and Val and Babyface in Balloon.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

2019 Horse World Expo

March 13, 2019

MGAA returned to the Horse World Expo which was held the first weekend in March at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. The Horse World Expo is a 4 day event that features two (heated) indoor arenas, stadium style, with a massive convention hall attached that is full of vendors and booths. There is also a round pen where instructional demos are done and two class rooms set up for informative lectures. The expo touts itself as the largest equine expo in the USA.

This year MGAA had a booth and performed a demo from 4-5pm on Saturday in the Equine Arena.

The demo was for a full house, standing room limited.  We brought in four teams well mixed of all levels, ages and experience players.  We had little Dexter on Leadline popping into different teams as a 5th rider to take part, always to a loudly cheering crowd.  He held the spotlight for sure.  We had some of our new Intermediate, just moved from Novice teenage players, we had some solid experienced Intermediate teens, a few of our Open level experienced players, and of course a strong representation from our O25 adult riders.

I feel strongly that showcasing all of the diversity in games is key in these demo settings.  People continuously said “I didn’t know adults could do this!” or “This is for all ages?”  One lady told us later in the booth that she thought everyone out there was a kid until the end when we rode around the edges saying hello and handing out pamphlets.  It also shows that not everyone is vaulting on and off with a high leg at a gallop.  That yep, your kid can be on leadline, some people just trot, everyone makes mistakes, mom and dad can do it too, gaited ponies, we had one of those out there as well.  I think having some slower riders also makes it easier for the crowd to see what is actually going on.  So while one rider trots through two flag, the crowd can digest the pattern, and then the Open rider in the next lane flies through at a gallop, the crowd can appreciate what they just did so quickly.  Having the teams mixed also made it possible for them to finish up about the same time as each other.  We didn’t keep score, but it kept things evenly matched and rolling nicely.

Team Gone Rogue was in full effect, with four of us riding, and Matt, just back to riding two days early after his long injury recovery standing in as referee.  Carly and I were on the Navy team together, me on new-to-games Possum, and Carly on Diane’s new-to-games pony Blinkin.  Both ponies were a little anxious, as were many of the experienced ponies, but they both did fantastic.  The crowd was loud, and it was a whole new atmosphere for them.  We both kept them slow and mostly trotted, with a few canters thrown in.

(I think I see Kelly and Linda – in pink – in the first row back there behind Lauren and Dusty.)

In retrospect I wish I had pushed Possum out a bit more, I think he could have handled it.  But at the time I just wanted him to have a positive experience where he took in all of the atmosphere and left feeling solid about that.  For myself I was very focused on him and not so much on my skills.  I didn’t make mistakes, but I was not as refined as usual.  For example, I pulled my flag weird, cleanly, but weird.  I had kept both hands on the reins and my seat well planted until the last moment, where I leaned less than usual and just whipped my hand out at the last moment to grab the flag.  This seemed to be my manner for the competition, butt in seat, legs engaged, two hands on the reins, until the last moment, minimal lean.  That of course is not going to be necessary as Possum adjusts more, and we do not normally ride to such a crowd.  Carly rode Blinkin like a pro.  She is a good rider and her ability to jump on and go really showed.  She knocked a pole in the first race but flipped it up mounted.  #skills

(Yep, I am sure that’s Kelly and Linda all the way to the right in the first row.)

Val and Jon were both on the yellow team and they were flying.  Babyface looked great and not at all nervous.  Val said he was really on and listened and performed like a pro.  I really did not get to see much of her playing but what I did see looked great.  I also didn’t get to see much of Jon, but I caught his 4th rider flag pull in flag fliers and it was perfect.  very Open rider solid at a solid gallop.  Jeeter finished soaked in sweat.  I expected both of them to ride like the long time professionals they are.

All of the riders did great.  Our Navy team, which also included Caroline, Fenya, and Maggie, was so fun to ride with.  Caroline had a last minute pony swap when her usual pony was not getting on the trailer that morning.  She grabbed her mom’s pony Nemo and rode him like a champ.  She started most of the races and did so strongly with a smile.  Fenya, as expected, was just lovely.  When asked where she wanted to go “where ever”, just completely easy to work with.  Her pony was also a bit wound up and she did a great job keeping her moving and playing her game like nothing was out of the ordinary.  This was my first experience with Maggie on the field and she is a lovely person and was really fun to play with.  She pulled anchor for us in most races and did so smoothly.  Her pony is a strong quick thing and she rode her excellently and made her look easy.  This was a lovely team and it was fun to get to know each rider better.

The booth was also super busy all weekend but especially after the demo with people getting information after seeing how fun it looked.  Jenny and I closed up the booth for the night on Saturday.  As always I really enjoyed talking about games, and could do so endlessly.  We were busy right up until close handing out pamphlets and answering questions.

Our VP Fred arranged everything.  It was a tall order and included setting up the booth, making sure it was manned, arranging riders, and filling in last minute gaps for sick or injured people.  He did an amazing job.  Our booth looked great and the demo was well received.  Definitely a score for mounted games!

A new friend in the crowd caught mug shuffle!

When we first went into the ring while it was being set, everyone rode around the edges letting their ponies see everything while smiling, making eye contact, and waving to the crowd.

Jon finishing up balloon race.

Dexter was the crow favorite and I believe he ate up every minute of it.

Leigh Anne with a solid stack spelling GAMES.

A friend in the crowd caught this.  Its Possum going slowly in flag fliers.  You can see how delicate I was with him.

Caroline and Maggie in tire race

Eliza probably had the hardest job of everyone.  She was injured the weekend before and was unable to ride, so she volunteered to lead Cheddar.  That pony loves his boy, but he is a little beast for adults, a true pony.

A friend in the crowd caught this litter race.

The booth in all its fineness, youtube games play list running and equipment on display.

Jenny and I

Possum getting ready to ride.

 

Working on Balloons with Possum

February 26, 2019

Possum is the first pony I have had that second guessed balloons. I’ll take that challenge. Today we got in a nice ride and included balloon work in it.

We started off with a nice long walk around the super scary farm. I say that with sarcasm but in reality, there is scary looking junk all over the place. Ironically the big rock on the side of the driveway was one of the scariest.

We continued this until he was consistently relaxed. Say 30 minutes.

Next we did some slow hill work. I focused on Possum’s form. Helping him to learn to properly climb and descend to help develop some muscle.

Then into the riding field to focus on balloons. We started by blowing them up and putting the board out. Next we walked past and around them leisurely, mounted, without focusing on them. Then I dismounted and we walked past and then over them. He leaped on his first pass over them. But he got over it quickly, licking and chewing.

I mounted back up and did some work to get him moving off my leg. He doesn’t seem to have much experience with this and with his “mattress like sides” (quote by Val) just a little leg wasn’t going to cut it so I was prepared with spurs on. We worked on this and putting some tight turns in, all slowly and calmly.

Then back to balloon. After a few mounted successful walks past I dismounted and we walked past popping the balloons, one on each pass. Then I remounted and walked and trotted past cleanly.

Then some more lateral work.

I blew up and loaded the board with more balloons. Then, mounted, I walked past while popping a balloon. It was successful with just a flinch so we trotted past for the next few balloons and finally cantered the last two. Although this sounds like only a half dozen pops, the balloons are old and have been out in the elements so they were not trying to pop. I probably popped one on every second or third pass.

The last couple passes were strong and clean so we called that finished on balloons for the day. One canter through mug shuffle and then we walked out back to untack.

I am super happy with Possum. He got a nice workout for his brain and his body while making him a more educated pony. Although I am sure I will need to do several more balloon sessions, which I am looking forward to. Mr. P. gets an A for today.

Winter Games Practice 2/24/19

February 24, 2019

Another great practice. Winter is coming to a close and the season opener is only 7 weeks away! Woo!

Nothing particularly exciting to relay so here are a few photos to mark the day.

Trail Report: Graves Mill – Wolfsville Entrance

February 16, 2019

Friday afternoon I met up with Jenny at Graves Mill Trail at the Wolfsville access point. It was an unseasonably warm day, making it into the low 60’s, and perfect for a ride.

This is my first mountain trail ride on Possum. I went into it with low expectations and figured he would lack in sure-footedness. I was completely impressed.

We parked at a pull over at the end of the road. It was a short ride along a back road to the dead end and car parking area at the head of the trail.

This was my first time on this trail and I really enjoyed it. It starts out mostly flat and smooth, running along a creek.

We had three creek crossing going out and the same three going back. Possum proved to be surprisingly agile and brave for the crossings.

The trail did get a bit rockier and appeared to be beginning to have some elevation changes starting in the area we turned around.

We had limited time before dark and managed to turn around at just the right point. We made it back to the trailers at the end of dusk with just enough time to untack and load up before full dark.

Jenny rode Bitey. He trooped along like an experienced trail horse. He had to circle and wait for Possum a few times. Other times Possum had to trot along every so often to catch up.

I really like this trail and am interested in investigating it more. Not too much further ahead it meets up with other trails and roads. Lots of exploring to do.

Possum had a nice workout. He showed his experience and comfort on trails. He picked his path and marched along with experience. He did not think twice at the creek crossings, which were rather deep and fast moving. I’m proud of him.

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