July 21 Summer Sizzler

July 22, 2013

Yesterday Poe and I went to the Summer Sizzler in Neersville, Virginia.  The Summer Sizzler is a series of small games competitions that are excellent places to get a new pony out at.  They are generally hosted on Saturday or Sunday afternoons and everyone gets to run approximately 12-16 races.  They also offer a free 8 race green pony division.

I met up with Carol Ann and we made the drive up together, and rode as a pair in the intermediate division.  She brought her green pony, Jinny, and we were well matched for the day’s ride.

I tacked up early, and got moving around the arena to help loosen up the collective nerves Poe and I had going on.  Poe was quiet loud, whinnying to every pony on the grounds, and possibly just to hear his own voice.  I kept him moving, through the poles, changing directions, working on some neck reining, and basically keeping his mind busy and his feet moving.

We started with Speed Weavers, and he was a little looky, not at the equipment, but at the people and surroundings.  We moved on to Mug Shuffle, which was a nice race for us.  We cantered along the poles, shuffling mugs and pulled up politely at the end.  Three Mug was our next race, which was performed outstandingly for a pony that is new to the sport.  We cantered about half of it, and he did a good job keeping his turns rather tight.  I have a feeling this is going to be a good race for him, once he really gets his turns down.  I can already feel him getting the idea and starting to lower his hind end, like a quarter horse, for his turns.

We continued on, keeping our pace at a steady canter with breaks to a trot through Carton and Litter.  We had an iffy Sock Race.  He scooted under me when I leaned over to dunk and we ended up wheeling a nice circle around the bucket.  I also shocked him when I jumped off at the end, and he tossed his head, and in turn, I accidentally bopped him in the mouth, which caused him to pull back for a moment.  But he settled quickly, moving forward, and then standing nicely for me to remount.  Teammate Linda, who was riding with Kim in the lane next to us, was kind enough to wait at the end for me to remount incase Poe did decide to get jumpy.  Teammates are great.

We had a fantastic 4 Flag, which was followed up by Flag Fliers.  These two races require the pony to make a tight turn around a flag cone at the end of the arena, and on the second of the two, I could feel Poe cluing into the turn, and lowering his hind end again. I am very excited about this, because as this skill develops he should be able to drop his rear and make wheeling barrel turns, in roll back style.  For our Flag Fliers pick, the flag was on the wrong side for pick up, which is fine, but requires me to get a greater lean, and also to be closer to the cone.  Some riders would use an S turn, or cut in for this, which I personally do not feel is necessary for me, nor does Poe know this technique, so I just rode close to the cone.  I could feel him listening in, and waiting for me to cue him to which side of the cone I wanted him to go on.  Which is fantastic.  Most ponies would just decide on their own, or be ready to plow through the cone, but Poe was ready for instruction and when I gave it to him, he went right with it, passing close to the cone on the proper side.

The last race we had was Joust, which I have not introduced him to at home.  We went second, and he was very aware of the other ponies thundering down the lane toward him.  This was also the case in Flag Fliers.  He was not afraid, but very aware and interested.  I had to remind him to focus on his own incoming hand off, which he took nicely, although he was still a bit distracted, and did get a little looky at the joust board.  I was able to hit it, but not as square on as I would like.  I made a point of returning to the board for a second pass after the race was over.  He was a little shy of it, and with the large joust lance in hand, my leg was not enough to move him over, with just a little neck reining.  I have a joust at home, so this is something we will work on and quickly over come.

As for handoffs, Poe was pretty chill about them from the start.  Generally just freezing as the incoming pony trotted or cantered past him.  Towards the end he was willingly walking into his hand offs.  Giving them has not been a problem at all.

His general attitude settled after the first few races, and he only tried the ‘go back to the trailer’ trick once, and without really putting his heart into it.  He pawed a little, and bit my stirrup leathers.  But for the most part was much more relaxed and even stood nicely between races with his teammates.

I am so happy with his performance.  And I am really glad I made the decision to take him to the Summer Sizzler this weekend.  His improvement from start to finish was apparent, and I think he will settle into a really killer games pony.  I have not asked for any speed at this point, as I want him to full understand the races and set up first.  I also want him to understand that sometimes we stop and turn without warning, and all of what is expected of him, before we put on any speed.  He did move out a few times, but more of a forward canter.  Carol Ann commented on the way home that she thinks he has some speed he might not even be aware of and how he has the build to move out.

So yea, Go Poe!

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Photo: Carol Ann

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2013-07-21 17.34.51


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