Finding a Good Team Fit

May 2010 - Linda and Krista (Tommy and Lisa in the background) - team Old School

Not many horse sports are team oriented, and of those that are, not many are as team extreme as mounted games. 

Mounted games is almost exclusively a team sport.  With the exception of a small amount of individual competitions, most work on a two person/pony pairing or a team of 4 or 5 riders and ponies.  Unlike in some team horse disaplines where a rider’s individual score is combined with his or her teammates’ scores for a placing, in mounted games, riders must work together to collect the points as one unit. 

Spring 2011 - Linda, Carol Ann, Krista

late 1980s - Frederick Pony Club Games Team
Krista, Margie, Mollie
Sarah and Jenny

Mounted games is set up in relay race fashion, with a whole team needing to complete a race for placement and subsequent points, teams must select an order of play that will best utilize each rider pony pair in the teams best interest.  Teams must communicate during races and instruct riders in a race of their standings and how to proceed.  And in some races, teammates must work together to complete a section of the race as a single unit. 

In some races riders may need to ride together holding a short length of rope between the two while navigating a course, or lead and hold one’s pony while the other completes a task.  Riders must also hand off objects from rider to rider, often at high speeds, so determining who’s pony may not get along with another’s is paramount. 

Around 2004 - My sister Kerri and I competing together

Some races require different riders to complete different tasks, and determining which rider and pony pair is best for each obstacle, can significantly determine the outcome of a race.  Some ponies may be slow but better suited for tasks like standing still for a rider to complete a technical task, where another team mount might not stand still, but might have a lot of speed and fast turns that are best utilized in covering distances. 

1993 - Krista and Mollie

1997 or 98 I think
Krista and Kennth
Canada

Some riders and ponies may have better starts and do well under the pressure of first position, while others get nervous in that situation.  Other riders may actually perform better when they are in a pinch, and are good at bringing up the tail in last position.  Some may do well regulating the need for speed and if they need to push or restrain when riding in the last position, depending on the other teams completion of a race. 

  Having a good mix of riders that fill in these positions best, and a good mix of ponies that include both steady and fast will help determine a team’s success.    Finding the right team can be challenging.  Not all riders want to be as dedicated or intense as others.  Some people tend to be less dependable or lose interest quicker than others.  Some people work better in a team environment than others and some people have personalities that tend to be controlling and independent while others are aloof or lack communication. 

1991 or 92 - Christine, Krista and Jenny
Meadowland, NJ

A successful team should have a mix of personalities that get along well, with some strong and some laid back, so the mix works together and doesn’t clash.  A successful team will also have riders that want to be as competitive or who are not worried about being competitive as each other.  Having one rider who doesn’t care how they do mixed in with three that are cut throat and looking to win, is not good for anyone involved. 

Summer 2006 - Christine and Krista
we both got married that year so we rode as "the runaway brides"

2003 or 2004
Krista and Kerri

Riders on a team also need to be of a similar level and experience when competing.  Having one teammate that is just learning to ride and is not confident to break out of the trot matched up with a team of riders that have been competing all their lives at top speeds will only discourage and frustrate everyone. 

I have been playing games for nearly 25 years and have been on an array of teams.  Some were good and some, not so much.  Some were competitive and some were just looking to have fun.  Some teams selected a list of competitions to take part in at the start of the year and were dedicated to those, and other teams were thrown together last minute.  But for the most part, I have always enjoyed being part of a team.  It gives you someone to share the experience with and creates a bond that is unique and special. 

Fall 2011 - Blue Ridge Games
Old School, Scramble, Aftershock

My current team, Old School, competes in the adult division.  This will be our forth year as a team.  We are a dedicated, enthusiastic, competitive team, that tends to lean towards the intense side.  We currently ride as a four rider/pony team, although we have had guest riders on occasion and probably will in the future.  Being a passionate team with several strong personalities, finding a permanent fifth rider could be considered a challenge.  But, of all the teams I have been a part of, Old School is by far, my favorite team.  I value my teammates who I consider among my short list of best friends.  We have bonded through our riding and I not only enjoy time in the saddle with each of them, but I also look forward to other activities and being a part of their non riding lives. 

Finding a team that really meshes well is difficult, but if it can be done, it is also one of the most rewarding relationships one can have.   

March 2012 - Krista and Kim - Having way too much fun!

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