Mounted Games Bottle Flip Challenge

August 14, 2018

I saw this video on Instagram yesterday by Sid_und_Sunny with #mgbottleflip challenge. Dude does a barrel turn and a bottle flip onto the barrel. What? Yup.

Way freaking bad ass.

Link to post.

So of course I had to accept this challenge. But I was at work so I challenged a slew of MGAA friends in the mean time.

Sadie goes out bareback with a halter and crushes it in style. That kid.

Sadie video

Challenge double accepted.

I got home from work, grabbed Simon and twisted my husband’s arm to come video (mainly pick up and hand me the bottle over and over again).

Krista video

The walk was easy. I got that in about three tries. The canter, not so much. Full disclosure out of 38 tries I got it at the walk once and the canter once. A third of the times I completely missed the barrel. And the one that did stick was right on the edge.

It was such a fun challenge though. And why not? Thanks Sid_und_Sunny for bringing this awesome challenge!

Now who else???

Mid-Atlantic #4 – 2018

August ,2018

It’s August which means it’s time to head to the hot humid eastern shore part of New-freakin-Jersey for MA4. MGAA hit up the Gloucester 4-H Fairgrounds in Mullica Hills for another round of hot games action.

Before digging into this post – it is all about my own team.  I often comment on other teams and divisions but this time I am only focusing on Gone Rogue, and even more specifically on myself.  Maybe a little self indulgent, but in the end, this blog is really a journal for myself, I just choose to share it with whoever wishes to read it.  So if you are hoping to catch a recap on your own team, or to see what I thought of the Open division or my reflections on the intermediate riders’ growth, I don’t want you to waste your time reading about Simon’s end turns.  This is all about Gone Rogue, and me regrouping with Simon.  I’ll most likely be back to reviewing other divisions and teams at the next competition but for this post I felt like a more personal focus was necessary.

Gone Rogue was a bumpy mess of a team with only three of our usual riders; Val, Jon, and Krista, and two of our usual ponies; Babyface and Jeeter. I sold my trusty games master Poe, and have moved onto my backup pony Simon, which is a whole new world.

For the rest of the season Britney and her solid steed Nicki have joined the Gone Rogue team, making us four strong for this competition.

Before heading out for the weekend we discussed the need to regroup and step back. With so many changes and so much foundation to build this is a good time for us to slow it down and set some structure up.

Although it’s not obvious, this is Jon’s first year back after a several year hiatus. And although he is amazing and rocking that field, he is actually just getting his real groove back. Watch out you all. For real.  And Jeeter too. This is the most stepped up and *for real* his game has ever been. So while these two are fantastic, they are just warming up.

Now we all know Val is nothing short of amazing. And BF is one deer-lama-kangaroo-cheetah racing pony out there, BF has a lot of learning to do yet. And his amazingness is just cracking open and is going to keep getting more and more wicked.  So Val is thinking its time to slow things down a touch and work on some finesse and fine tune some of the more technical aspects with him.  She went slower at MA4, she didn’t race home even when the opportunity presented itself, she let him coast in.  You cannot even imagine how impossibly hard this was for Val with her “need for speed” and having all that race car-esc horse power under her… much restraint was administered.  She did a fantastic job.

I think this was probably Babyfaces best competition yet, he had a lot less spinouts, and hardly “Flintstoned” at all.  I don’t think Val made any mistakes either.  She was the rock of the team this competition.

And me, I feel like I am starting over on Simon. It’s been five years since I competed on him and although he knows the games, he has been playing at the Novice level for these past five years and he needs to rework some skills and I need to remember how to ride him.  Also, no mater how good I do with him, he is still not that fast.

So while Jon gets his groove back, Jeeter steps up his game, Val slows BF down and teaches him his job more smoothly, and Simon and I work out some kinks, we decided to all three try out different positions and switch up our orders. And we are working in Britney and Nicki to the orders as well. So lots going on there. And we started it all at MA4.

So Simon.  This guy came to me about 8 years ago.  I had decided my former Open pony, Osh Kosh was about ready to retire and I had started in on a new mount, Maya.  We were about a year into her training and going strong when we had an accident together that laid me up pretty roughly.  When I was able to get back on again I needed something to rebuild my confidence and that would stand like a statue for the mount.  I found Mr. Simon.  He was a 4 coming 5 year old driving pony, fresh off the mountain in Ohio, and just started under saddle.  I fell in love at first site.  No joke.

It was an icy wintery day when I went to try him and they had to ride him down the mountain since the roads were too icy and I rode him on the side of the road right there and said, I’ll take him, and into my trailer he went for the six hour drive home.  I still stand by that he was the best purchase I have ever made and I didn’t dicker about price either. He has been my heart pony ever since.

That all said he was not a made pony and was a lot of work from the start.  He didn’t steer, bitting him was like trying to build an upside down triangle before math was discovered, cold weather gets a hair up his butt, until he was about 8yo I had to lunge him to ride him in the winter, and he is still to this day wonky about taking handoffs.   Luckily he caught on quick and is always happy to please me.  He has also always been safe and stable and has always taken excellent care of his rider.

So anyway, after a few years of confidence building on Simon, I was ready for something a bit faster, and a new training project.  So I found Poe.  And what an amazing find he was.  This post is not about Poe so I’ll hold off here, but for the next five years, Poe was my first string number one games master and Simon helped newer players and sometimes newer riders get their groove in O25 and Novice.  Now Simon has to step back up.

While Simon needs to step back up, I also need to figure him back out.  How early to WHOA, how late to push into turns, how deep do I need to drive into turns?  All those little bits that make a games player.  My first session I felt like I was asleep.  I did not use my voice a single time.  Not a single WHOA or TURN or STAND came out of my mouth.  That’s a total lack of a major aid.  I pushed with my body, seat and legs, but not as aggressively as I could have, I allowed Simon to coast into turns and ease up to stops much easier than necessary.  I played like a passenger not a rider.

I also knocked a pole in the first race.  I am not going to lay blame on this taking me out of the session.  But it did certainly throw me off.  I am not one to make many mistakes and starting off the session with one really just ripped me.  I also went into the session with a really upset stomach, again, its no excuse, a real rider pushes through, but it did add to my demise I am sure.  I won’t go into extensive details about my illness as it is just ridiculous, suffice it to say, look at what you are eating, don’t just blindly shove food in your mouth, but I felt like I was going to barf or poo myself, and I was violently burping throughout the entire session.  Getting back on when that pole fell, well, it was just not going to happen.

My second session I felt a little more on.  I rode better, I used my voice more, I pushed and rode up to things.  I expected more out of Simon and out of myself.  By the final I felt much more like a normal player and I was satisfied with my performance.  I still have things to work out, certainly.  I still don’t feel I have my end turns sorted back out on Simon to my satisfaction, but for the most part I do feel I have most of the rest of our ride put back together to a degree.

I also want to say that riding Simon is a full body workout.  Legs, seat, body, arms, voice, it takes everything to keep him going.  I was so exhausted Saturday night.  Probably partly from my temporary illness and also from the work out Simon gave me, I was out cold by about 930!  Which says a lot since these competitions are my big social time.

In preparation for the rest of the season I am going to try and not play games on Simon between competitions.  I think he will burn out easy, and he likes diversity.  So I am hacking him around the farm, letting him gallop up the hills and ride around checking fences, the fruit trees and the property in general.  I plan to get him out on some mountain trail rides which are his favorites, and maybe some obstacle JPR rides if possible.  I do want to work on our GO vocal cues though.  I am not sure how much that will help but it can’t hurt.

I am also looking forward to continue building up our team in preparation for the 2019 season.  I like the idea of working on different positions and skills.  It should all be good fun and with people I love riding with!

Riding photos taken by G Honeycutt.

Val’s Games Face

August 8, 2018

This is the best thing I have seen all day.

Matt took this photo at MA3 in June and posted it to Facebook this morning. It’s me handing off a balloon stick to Val.

Look at Val’s awesome games face.

Look closer and it gets better

That is games-face-strong here.

I laughed so hard I cried.

And that there, will make the rest of today a good day.

Trail Report: Elizabeth’s Furnace – Short Loop, Strasburg, VA

July 31, 2018

Sunday I went out with my local trail club, the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horseman’s Association (woe that’s a mouthful) STHA, for a sweet four hour ride.  I really enjoy getting out with the club but this is sadly the first time I have made a ride this year!

Excitingly this was a brand new location for me, over in the Strasburg area.  I have never driven through this area non the less been here to ride, so it was quite exciting.  It was easy to get to, not far off I81.  I goggle mapped to Elizabeth Furnace Camp Ground, and then drove just past it to the next parking area on the right hand side.

The parking area has a loop drive and plenty of parking.  We had quite a few rigs and all fit just fine with plenty of room to spare.  I did note that the parking lot was in terrible shape and untended.  I thought I was parked beyond the actual parking area and when I was messing around getting ready I noticed parking blocks lost in the depths of overgrowth, dangerously hidden from view as I nearly tripped over them on multiple occasions (glad my truck and trailer didn’t “trip” over them).  I should have gotten a photo of the parking area, but as per my usual when I am riding with other people, I really sucked at getting photos.


We left the parking area via a trail situated at the back of the parking area.  If you were facing the parking area from the road the trail would be in the top left hand corner.  This wrapped up through some woods and popped out on a fire road.  I am not going to mince words at this point, and am going to be very to the point, I followed along and had a lovely ride but I paid zero attention to our trail.  We were on and off of fire roads and trails and I saw some blue and orange (maybe) blazes and several signs telling us which way what trails were but I have no idea which trails we rode on.  There were plenty of them though, and lots of options, and plenty of directions to go in.  I did notice that one we were on and left crossed back over to another one we were on later.  Two of our group broke off not too far into the ride and went a different way and met back up at the end.  And when we got back someone else was parked with us and popped back out of the woods just behind us who was also out for a ride.  Point being, I could not retrace this exact loop very easily, but there are a bunch of trails out there and with a map it would be an awesome place to spend some days exploring.


There were a couple creek crossings and lots of lovely scenery.  It was a really pretty ride.  There was a large log down at one point and Sharon, Mark and a few others quickly cut us a path around it.

In the photo above, that Mule is named Daisy.  Very cute.

At one point the trail led through an old unused camp grounds.  It was originally a workers camp, which I am already fuzzy on the details that were so kindly told to me.  Please excuse anything inaccurate I relay, but I believe it was built in the depression era, by the ECW/CCC Roosevelt initiative to get labor forces working again, as housing for the workers.  It was later used by the 4H, and I am told that Ellie can tell me all about that era of its use.  Which I would love to know more about.

You can see several of the cabins still standing.  It is so sad that it is all gone to disuse.  I am sure it was a really neat little camp at one time.

and even a pool!

There is also a pavilion still there with the neatest roof inner structure.

Anyway, these type of over grown structures always make me think of all the – end of the world – books and movies.  This area totally had that feel and would make for a good set for the Walking Dead or some such type of film.

We passed through this on the way out and the way back in, and over two little bridges.  After a while we stopped for a nice little lunch break.

It was a lovely ride and a really good time.  It clocked in at 13 miles on the nose and my tracker trimmed out the stopped time so we were moving for a total of 3 1/2 hours.

Simon was a little full of himself, which is quite out of character for him.  I am attributing it to him being a only-pony these past two weeks and him being particularly excited to be with other horses. Normally this doesn’t excite him all that much but on this ride he was all full of it.  Keeping up with all those gaited ponies he rolled into his little jog for some of the ride home.  Not fast enough to do a posting trot and not slow enough to walk.  For a non gaited pony he is pretty smooth, but he is not gaited.  Note, I had on a really good bra.

I am hoping to make more club rides this fall.  I really do enjoy them.  Hopefully my games schedule will start to line up a little better with the STRHA schedule!

Trail Report: Woodstock Equestrian Park, Beallsville, MD

July 29, 2018

Saturday Val hosted a birthday bash competition in celebration of my 40th, and Sunday she met me back at the facility for a morning hack out.

We both rocked our Birthday Bash commemorative t-shirts she had made for everyone (FYI these are so comfortable).

This park has a ton of trails, and we hardly touched them.  we mostly rode around the edges of fields.  Lots of soybeans growing.  We saw a ton of other riders out in small groups too.  This is a very popular park.  If I lived near a park like this I would certainly frequent it too.

The Woodstock Equestrian Park is in Beallsville, Maryland on Darnestown Road in Montgomery County making it a county park.  It has a beginner-novice cross country course set up on six acres, a large 230×350 all weather arena, a gravel parking lot (actually two different ones) and 16 miles of trails through fields and woods and over bridges.  This is all set up on 872 acres.  People can use the park free of charge, and can also opt to rent out parts of it for exclusive use, like Val rented the ring for our use on Saturday.

The photo below cracks me up.  We tried to get both of us and both ponies in the same shot.  Our three faces make me laugh.

Val and I had a nice leisurely ride.  We discussed the need for more one day games events with a competition setting.  Lots of deep games talk.

It was a nice ride.

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