2014 Crystal Crown #2

May 7, 2014

This past Saturday was the second Judged Pleasure Ride in the Crystal Crown Series. It was hosted by the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horseman Association and held near Woodstock, Virginia. I brought Simon and met Zoe and Val at the grounds.

 

The first obstacle involved standing in a narrow muddy creek and dragging a drainage tube towards you. You did not want your horse to back up. We all performed mediocre at this task, with Val doing the best.

 

The next task was to open a gate, go through it, close it and then open it back up, come back out and reclose it. I thought this one would be easy since Simon is good at gate opening, and planned ahead which hand to use to make it the most efficient. I was wrong. It was not so easy. The gate had a chain attached that was rather long, and made it difficult to close. The ponies kept thinking they were supposed to go through the opening the chain left, and with the gate sitting so far out, it made it hard to get close enough to the post to hook it. Zoe and I both had a messy but somewhat successful run. Val showed us up and whipped through that drill like it was nothing.

 

The next obstacle was narrowly set grounds poles, laying out a twisty backup pattern. I thought this one was also going to be easy for Simon, since he is a good backer. But nope. We backed up all over the place, but not so much in the pattern we were intended too. Zoe pretty much did the same. And Again Val kicked our butts, backing like she knew what she was doing.

 

The fourth obstacle was a looky-loo one. It had some blow up pool toys attached to a barrel, with one of those singing fish that is motion activated. On the barrel was a child’s fishing rod. The rider needed to pick up this rod, and then ride over to a kitty pool, that contained a blow up pool ball, and a bunch of plastic fish. The Fish had little magnets at the end of their mouths and the goal was to fish up one fish. Simon showed us his backing skills again as he backed all around this obstacle, before pulling up at the pool for me to get my fish-on. And my fishing skills sucked. Although I “hooked” a few fish, I was not steady enough to lift one out of the pool without it dropping back off. Yack.

At this point we had been riding around several large fields from one obstacle to the next which was a bit boring. Luckily the path led us into the woods and we got to follow a fun woods trail for a while. This is where the obstacles turned more in our favor. The first wooded one we came to was a cut in half tractor tire laying on the ground. You had to ride into the tire, and then ride the front legs out, and then side pass around the tire, keeping your horse’s back legs in. And boom, Simon was a pro, getting our first 10 point perfect score. Val also completed this skill pretty smoothly with Sprite simply tripping his way in and out but turning nicely. Zoe, riding Petal, was a little less successful, with Petal being unsure what to do, but eventually giving it somewhat of a go.

 

One of our favorite obstacles had us riding up a hill and going up three large “steps”. This was one of our favorite obstacles and we cheered each other up the hill, and then asked if we could go again. The judges said we were the only group not to complain about the obstacle and that in the future we may need to go back down it. Since there was no one waiting behind us they allowed us to all three hop up and down the steps a few more times.

 

Some of the other obstacles included riding through some woods, off the trail, riding past a bike, umbrella and some other spooky stuff, and riding into a box on the ground made out of sticks, and turning a tight circle inside of it without touching the edges.

 

The final scary obstacle was a large black plastic sheet with some slits in it that you were supposed to ride through, and then through some pool noodles. This was Simon’s worst obstacle. He stood with his nose touching the plastic, and would not budge. I think if there was a breeze rippling the tarp, he might have gone through, as he has done in the past, but this time he had no interest. After my attempt I asked to be led through, simply to have the experience, only scoring a 2. Of course Val showed us how to do it, and Zoe followed behind her with just a little hesitation. We noticed some other riders wearing spurs and I think next time I’ll equip myself with some of those for a little encouragement.

 

There was a brief ride back to the parking area along a back road, and we arrived at the tail end of the lunch which I have to say was really disappointing and pretty much gone. The three of us enjoyed a little breather while we waited for the results and discussed how much fun we had.

 

Each rider had selected three divisions to be placed in and we were happy to clap for Val as she received a first, a second and a sixth in the three divisions she had selected. Sadly, Zoe and I have some work cut out for ourselves, and did not receive any ribbons. Our points were something along the lines of Val – 84, Krista – 64 and Zoe – 62. Give or take a few points in either direction.

 

Other than the crap, mostly nonexistent lunch, and an extreme lack of information ahead of time, it was a fantastic competition. We all agree it was an awesome day, and we hope there are some more that do not conflict with the games season so we can take part in those as well. We did look and the 3rd JPR in the series is during MGAA Nationals so that one is a bust.

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