Memorial Weekend Competition

I talked about the camping and how Simon entertained us at the Memorial weekend competition but I didn’t actually remember to talk about the actual competition. And well shoot, we wouldn’t want to forget that. 

Teammate Carol Ann and her pony Zeke
Photo grabbed from Facebook
and taken by Pat Neuhauser

It was a 3 day competition hosted by USMGA (United States Mounted Games Association) near Charlestown, West-by-God -Virginia at the Jefferson Fairgrounds.  We arrived Friday afternoon and rode two sessions Saturday, two sessions Sunday, and a final session Monday. 

Our team normally rides at MGAA (Mounted Games Across America) competitions and although they are both mounted games organizations and the basic sport is the same, there are quite a few differences between the two.  I’ll have to discuss that in a different post though because I will probably be rather winded about it. 

This competition weekend turned out to be a hot and sunny one, which is a little daunting to riders like myself that don’t fare well in such conditions.  But it wasn’t raining so that’s a bonus.  We also rode on grass, which I personally love but is a mixed bag for some. Grass does tend to be cooler, because it doesn’t hold and reflect the heat back up like all weather footing does, but it is also not “all weather” footing.  I ride in grass at home so I get lots of practice on it, and I also have my pony in 4 shoes with borium and that does make a difference because he has more grip than the standard barefoot pony.    Games was almost always played on grass pre 2000 but the current precedence is to ride on footing in the US so most riders and ponies are not accustomed to compensating for the changing conditions on grass, like slowing up a tad and balancing a pony around sharp turns when its slick.

A pretty terrible photo of Simon and I plodding along at a snails pace
Photo taken from Facebook
and taken by Pat Neuhauser

That said, the first session of Open riders started on wet grass and we saw quite a few ponies slide out around turns.  No one was hurt and the ground was drying out quickly. 

My team rode in the Norman Patrick division, which is open to any rider of any age, skill or interest.  I’ll give a lot more detail on the different divisions break down when I post about the differences in the organizations at a later date.  But for ease of this post, just know we are used to riding against only riders over 21yo, and this weekend, we were the only team solely made up of adults.  But we were expecting this and didn’t mind.  We were also playing shorter heats, of only 10 races, but since we were a short team of four for the weekend, again, we didn’t mind. 

Our first session was a bit bumpy but we had a good time and left the arena tied with the In The Navy team for the lead.  Simon and I rode quite well, although slowly, and only had one minor fumble picking our litter in the litter race. 

Over the lunch break we decided to mix up some of our orders and try a few new rotations and see if we could come up with some ways to shave a few seconds off our races for future competitions.  As individuals and as a team we tend to get stuck, or more accurately put, possessive, about particularly positions in specific races.  And just because so and so always goes first in such and such race, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best layout for the team as a whole.  All in all I was pretty impressed with some of the mix ups we tried throughout the rest of the weekend and I think we will be wise to implement them in the future.  

Our second session of the day, and our third session, played the following day also went well.  Although Simon had slowed down even more, and we were just getting burned up on the straight runs, but we played clean and only made one minor mistake which I have conveniently forgotten.  My team also pulled off some good riding, with few minor errors, and we came out 4 points and then 12 points ahead in those two sessions.  Go us! 

Our fourth session, the second one of the second day was not as pretty.  There were a few errors across the team, and one of our teammates, who I will not call out by name, was rather off.  She physically looked like she was over heated and not feeling right.  She was slow, out of sorts and made a lot of really odd mistakes.  Just not herself.  This is where having our 5th rider would have made a difference.  We could have given her a chance to sit out and recuperate and get her color back.  Simon was also slower than a slug in salt.  I felt like I was riding a merry go round at some points, happy carnival music and all.  He was happy and performing well, but had no interest in breaking faster than a riding school pony canter.  A friend from the sidelines even commented, ‘Simon seemed really slow in that session”.  And yep, he was.  But we muscled on and came out of that session 4 points behind In The Navy, but still in a solid second. 

Our final session on Monday was a mixed bag.  We started out a little rough with a few out of character mistakes, but got back in our game as the session went on.  I warmed Simon up with the aid of a bat and he was moving out a bit more agreeably.  I did make a fumble placing my bottle in bottle shuttle, and had to turn the barrel again to correct it, not once, but twice, but Simon was really agreeable and helped me make that correction as quickly as possible.  But the other teams had gotten their groove rolling and we just couldn’t make up the difference. 

We finished in a solid second place behind In The Navy and were awarded with a nice leather belt with a USMGA engraved plate on it.   We left feeling like it was a good weekend, with lots of practice for our more essential competitions.  We had gone in with practice in mind and no expectations so going home with a new leather belt was pleasing. 

And now I remember why I was holding off on this blog post.  I was hoping to find some decent photos on Facebook taken by friends to include which I have not been very successful at to date. 

A team shot, and you see, Simon can’t even keep up with everyone while walking around the ring.
Photo taken from Facebook and taken by Pat Neuhauser

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  1. Two Mounted Games Organizations | Blue Ridge Pony

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