MGAA Nationals 2013 – Reporting In

July 19, 2013

MGAA – Mounted Games Across America – had the 6th annual National Competition last week.  MGAA Nationals is a 4 day event packed with lots of mounted games and lots of friends.  This year it was held in Centre Hall, PA at the Grange County Fairgrounds Equestrian Center.  The same location we have MA2 and MA4 at.  I arrived at lunch time on Thursday, followed by Lindsey, and we spent some time setting up our ponies and camp before we took our ponies for a hack around the grounds.  There was a bluegrass festival going on across the grounds so we rode through some of that enjoying the tunes.  That afternoon and evening the rest of our campmates rolled in including Carol Ann, Emily, Matt, Val, Jon, Dexter and Zoe.  Joy, Annie and Averi camped right next to us as well.

We had the officials briefing at 6pm followed by the riders briefing at 7 and then a quick dinner with goofing around before we all hit the hay for jogs and our early 8am session the next morning.

Friday started with everyone cruising through jogs, and hitting the playing field for the first session.  Our division, the adult “fossil” division, was comprised of six teams, who for the most part, were all pretty well tuned up.

For this competition, my team, Old School, took extra care, and got ourselves a real coach.  We had a clinic with Coach Regan the weekend before, and learned some tricks and worked out some hand off issues.  Having a coach is really helpful for a lot of reason, but for me personally, I felt a lot less pressure having her there.  She could tell us our orders, get us focused on the next race, coaching us as we were riding, and I could just sit there and focus on my turn and cheering my teammates on.  It was great.

And apparently, her mad skills did kick us into gear, because we came out of session one on top and kept up this streak throughout the other four sessions to take the win.  Which was awesome.  I think the team needed a feather in our cap, and a chance to come together.  It was good for morale.

Speaking of myself specifically, at this competition I was very discouraged with Simon.  He is normally slow, but he started the first session out, in his ultimate slow speed.  By the end of the five sessions he was breaking to a walk before I got to the end of a lane, ambling through his turns, stopping to smell the roses, and just generally lolly-gagging along like a 30year old lesson pony.  Being that Simon is only 7, I can’t imagine what he will be like when he is 30.

It was very discouraging.  I was wearing myself out kicking, which did not increase his speed, but helped prevent him from losing any that he had picked up.  He was being a dork for hand offs, but only on occasion, so it was even more frustrating.  All in all I did not make very many mistakes throughout the weekend, although I did have a few pooed handoffs, but his lack of even a normal moderate pace, was worth a mistake in every race.

I made a point of bringing a riding crop to the warm up with me on Sunday for the final session.  He warmed up with gusto, but as soon as the races started and I had to put the crop down, it was like the gas just leaked out of him and he started to yawn.

So that was the riding for me.  Slow and discouraging.

The rest of my team was pretty on for most of the weekend.  And with five sessions, that is saying a lot.  That’s a lot of riding.  And all of us loved every race, and wouldn’t have given up any of them, well except for run and ride race.  We would have rather not done that one.

Even with the help of Coach Regan, and the whole team, with the exception of Simon, being ON for the entire event, that still does not attribute to us holding the lead from start to finish like we did.  I really feel the other teams, particularly Time Flies and Red Solo Cup, were just not as on as usual.  Time Flies has been spanking us for the past two years pretty regularly, and they ended in third.  I noticed they had a few pony changes, which can really make a huge difference.  But I am sure they will be back in the flying neon pink when we meet again in September.  That team won’t be held back long.

The team in purple, Mischief Managed, had some rider and pony changes, that seemed to make for a more unified team, and certainly brought them closer to the top, as they went from the bottom of the field at our last two large competitions to finishing in second, three points ahead of Time Flies.  Red Solo Cup, took 4th followed by a really fun scramble team, Groppits, which was comprised of our campmates.  Black and Blue Crew, brought up the rear, with smiles on their faces.

In the end, Old School finished with a total of 324 points.  Mischief Managed has 244, followed by Time Flies with 239, Red Solo Cup had 203, Groppits 151 and Black N Blue Crew 94.

Off the playing field, we all had a blast.  Averi brought a little dog agility course and we enjoyed teaching dogs to go through the tunnel (Daisy was successful at this), jump and weave the poles (not so much success there).  We also had cookouts, with horrendous amounts of burger, noodles, chips and everything else, and we all went to bed groaning from too much to eat, after stuffing a few smores into our faces.

I really enjoyed the camping.  It was very laid back and full of fun people.  There was always someone to pal around with, and a dog to pet.  Tommy stopped by to tell us about his recent trip to Australia to play games, the Canadian camp site OLYed everyone awake for half the night (except for me, I can sleep through just about anything), ponies visited for some grazing time, and lots of other friends stopped by for some social time.  It was really a great time.

You might have noticed I did not mentioned teammates Linda or Kim as part of the campsite, which is very out of the ordinary.  They camped across the grounds with another large group.  For me it felt weird and I was a bit dislocated from that part of the team.  I was a bit down about it after Friday’s second ride, and being unhappy with Simon’s performance.  It just felt odd, and disjointed.  I usually feel so unified with this team, and although I really had an a-mazing time with the camp group we were with, I still really  missed being with Linda and Kim too.  Hopefully we will be able to camp together for the last two big competitions of the year this fall.

MGAA Nationals also has a social event.  This year it was free to all riders, and inexpensive to everyone else.  Our usual, MGAA DJ, DJ Shorty Rock, was in the house, and he really does do a great job getting the whole gang up and dancing.  And this year was no miss.  I really had a good time at this event. Probably a better time than I have had since the first MGAA Nationals because it was fun, but also laid back and most people were there.  We all danced and laughed and had a good time before retiring to the campsite.  Once we got back we night capped it off with a loudly enthusiastic game of Guess the Song or Artist.  Lindsey hosted and we were joined by the Winkler boys, who I *think* kicked our butts? All I know is I crushed Matt, and promptly called it a night after I got Old Crow Medicine Show right (one of my favorite bands so…).

The competition as a whole was fantastic.  Nancy did an outstanding job organizing, and picked amazing prizes for everyone.  The venue is perfect, the riding was hot  and the weather was unbelievably not (note to self, pack warmer for this venue!).  You could really tell a lot of work went into every aspect.  She was so good, that I have already recruited her skills to help me organize next year’s Nationals!  Yea!

SO all in all Nationals was fantastic.  And winning certainly didn’t hurt either :O)

Photo: EquiStar Photography

Photo: EquiStar Photography

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Some dogs needed help figuring the tunnel out.

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Maggie had success

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Chap in the weave poles

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Penny hard at work making sure Simon didn’t stop mowing the camp ground.

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Val wrangling Sukie and Maggie

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Emily and her Puss Puss blanket – long story

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Matt and Val chillin in camp

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Lindsey, Emily and Val at the social event

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Zoe and Carol Ann at the social event

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Azaria has mad dancing skills

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A not so awesome photo of me breaking it down.

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Some type of group dance

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The crew making crazy faces

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Emily

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Lindsey hosting “name that song or artist”

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Bug eyed faces

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Daisy holding down the fort. In bed.

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Daisy got shocked by the fence (it was hooked to a car battery, so lots of shock) and needed to be reassured she was ok.
Photo: Lindsey

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Linda and me Photo: EquiStar Photography

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Intermediate Ref – Anita Photo: Wende

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Team Old School
Kim, Linda, Krista, Carol Ann, Gen
Photo: EquiStar Photography

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Association race
Photo: EquiStar Photography

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me giving a classically lame thank you speech, complete with paper cup of wine. next to the MGAA Official DJ, DJ Shorty Rock
Photo: Anita

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Link and Simon
Photo: Lindsey

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Photo: EquiStar Photography

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