Being on a Team is Awesome

Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography 2009

I mention my mounted games team, Old School, a lot on this blog.  My Old School teammates are a major part of my life and I consider each one of them to be a special friend and part of my family.

Competition calls for high adrenaline and brings out all sorts of emotions including both fear and aggression.  Which means teammates learn about each other on an emotional level, and how to influence each other for the best.  The bond a close team develops is unique and extraordinary.

In a world where a rider works to bond with a horse to form a partner team, teaming up with other riders in the same way is not the norm.   Very few equestrian sports have a place for teams, and in the ones that do, a team competes independently.  Each teammate performances on their own and their score is combined with other team riders’ independent performances for a total score.

Mounted games is unique, requiring riders to work like a team in a more traditional sense.  Riders coordinate to select an order of rider and pony, to come out with the fastest race completion.  Riders hand batons and flags from one to the next, requiring the selection of ponies and riders that match up the best at the highest speed.  Deciding where to stick the steady and the speedy in race orders or who handles the start and the drag position pressure the best becomes essential to a cohesive and competitive team.  A teammate may navigate a race leading another teammate’s pony, or holding a rope linking one rider to another.

Blue Ridge Games September 2008
Linda on Bailey and Carol Ann on Zeke
Carol Ann’s very first time playing games!

A strong team learns each other’s physical and emotional weaknesses, how far to push each other to achieve a top performance, and what type of support each other needs.  Does a teammate that is messing up do better if they can sit out of a few races and collect their self?  Or does this time out make them insecure and ensure they fall apart?  Does a teammate ride better if you yell encouragements, or does hearing their name make them feel too much pressure?  If you instruct a teammate to ease up because they have the lead, will slowing down mess up their timing or will they over estimate your signal and slow down too much?

Krista on Osh Kosh and Carol Ann on Zeke
Mid-Atlantic #2 June 2009

Having a strong team bond can really improve a team’s performance, and give them the added edge they need to take it up a notch.  It is a special emotional state that not many equestrians get to share in with other equestrians, and its one of the things that makes mounted games such a special sport.

Guest Teammate Lauren on Niki and Kim on Jerico
Mid-Atlantic #2 2010
Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography

I have had team Old School as a central part of my life for four years.  We have ridden together through those years, with pony changes, guest teammates and an upgrade in our team gear.  We have traveled to at least eight different states to compete against an array of different teams.  We have had body parts banged up and broken both on and off the field.  And we have stood by each other through it all with high fives and smiles on our faces.

Krista and Osh Kosh
Mid-Atlantic #3 2009
Photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

When I reflect that it’s been four years, I think “really, only four years?  No way, it’s got to be more than that?”

Being part of a team is awesome!

Old School’s first competition
Carol Ann and Zeke, Krista and Osh Kosh, Linda and Ace, Guest Rider Cayla and Niki
Mid-Atlantic #1 2009
Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography

Monumental Mall Madness (on the DC Mall) ~ June 2009
Guest Rider Lindsey on Rose, Carol Ann on Zeke, Krista on Osh Kosh, Linda on CC, Guest Rider Michelle on Tease
Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography

Mid-Atlantic #4 November 2009
Krista on Maya, Carol Ann on Zeke, Kim on Jerico, Linda on Blue
Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography

Mid-Atlantic #1 2010
Guest Rider Lisa, Krista and Maya, Kim and Jerico, Guest Rider Tommy and Ace, Linda and Blue
Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography

MGAA Nationals 2010 – New Jersey July
Linda and Blue, Kim and Jerico, Guest Rider Genevieve and Pepper, Carol Ann and Zeke

Mid-Atlantic #2 June 2012
Kim and Gwen, Linda and Blue, Carol Ann and Zeke, Krista and Simon, Guest Rider Zoe and Cheyanne
Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography

Mid-Atlantic #3 August 2012
Linda and Blue, Kim and Gwen, Krista and Simon, Carol Ann and Zeke
Photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Mid-Atlantic #5 October 2012
Kim and Gwen, Carol Ann and Zeke, Linda and Blue, Krista and Simon
Photo: Genevieve of Equistar Photography

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