2014 Mid-Atlantic #1

May 4, 2014

 

Last weekend was the big MGAA session opener, Mid-Atlantic Mounted Games #1, held in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. This is the first competition in a five part series in its 11th year.

 

My games team, Old School, was ready and eager to take part in the adult (fossil) division. This year Old School consists of the four members that have been a part of the team for the past several years, Linda, Kim, Carol Ann and myself, and our new teammate that we are very excited about, Averi. There were eight teams entered in our division, making for two heats of four teams per session. Having more than one heat, with A and B final is something new to this division, and we are all excited about it!

 

Saturday we had session 1, and I rode ok, making two minor mistakes, which I do not clearly remember. I think I had to scoop my litter twice, but that was a week ago and the memory is already washing away. Which is why I need to write these posts right after competitions instead of waiting a week! As a team we rode rather well, with a few sloppy mistakes through the session. We had to rein our enthusiasm in a little to get our heads more into a *calm and clean* game state. We left the arena at the top of our heat, and one point ahead of the other heats leader, Time Flies.

 

With less than an hour break, we were back in the arena for session 2, and we did a slightly better job of getting our *calm and clean* groove on. This was a sloppier round for me personally though, and included a bending mishap. On the third pole home, we lost our bend, and had to return and pick it back up. This was very sloppy for me, but it was something I already knew I need to take home and work on. There was also a dropped hand off between Averi and myself (or maybe that was in the morning session), and I suspect there was another minor but frustrating mistake made by me. We finished at the top of our heat, one point behind the other heats leader, Time Flies.

 

We were sitting at the top of the list for the A final, tied in the lead with Time Flies, and followed by Groppits and Border Patrol.   Time Flies (“The Pink Team”) have been our friends, and our main competition for the past few years. They are a group of excellent players with outstanding ponies. This friendly rivalry was so pronounced this weekend, with us going into the final session tied, yet not having ridden in the same heat yet.

 

That night we had a fun little social in our camp grounds, enjoying each other’s company as we talked about the upcoming races for Sunday. The rain rolled in, and we ended up turning in early, getting a full nights rest. I was particularly comfortable and slept amazingly well both Friday and Saturday nights at the show grounds. I got more sleep on those nights than I had in any night the previous three weeks. I swear, my ability to sleep like a chicken (have you ever tried to rouse a chicken while it sleeps?) is a gift!

Sunday we managed to watch most of the Masters A Final before we rode, which included a lot of close finishes and exciting rides as usual. Team Limitless, coached by Colin Carson, pulled off the win, with the long time team in grey, Punk Rock Ponies, winning a tie breaker for second, followed by Rush Hour in purple. I always love watching the Masters A. Knowing that everyone was a bit reserved, and rusty coming into this competition after such a rough and long winter, it is exciting to watch the teams heat up the field as the season progresses.

 

We went into our final ready for a tough ride. And as expected, Time Flies brought their A game, and each race counted. We had quite a few wins, some surprising, and a few total fails, some not so surprising. One race that we are usually relatively good at, 9-Ring, was a total smash. And sadly, I destroyed my favorite race, in utter shame. I went last in Mug Shuffle, and my team had gained me a nice lead, leaving me plenty of time to trot my way through. But no, I started out at a slow plodding canter. After the first pick and place, I spent too much effort checking Poe, and not enough effort keeping my skills clean, and I spun my last mug off the pole, and had to double back to replace it. And, to add more shame to my game, after getting my left foot into the stirrup to remount, I managed to get my toe tucked under Poe’s elbow, and could not unstick it to mount. And we all know I already have gloriously smooth mounts as it is, NOT!

 

I also seem to remember another bending mishap, also on the homeward stretch and starting at the third pole. Refer to Saturdays ride for details, it was just as ugly. No need to rehash it.

 

The last race, Flag Fliers, rolled up and we knew we were close. We made a last minute order change to put in a tad more speed and went into the race with tensions a little too high. I generally have a clean pull so I started the race. Poe had a nice start, and we moved up the field nicely, making a smooth end turn, and headed for home with hooves moving. With extreme disappointment in myself, my pull was not clean, and shook the flags around some. Although Carol Ann later assured me that it was not as sloppy as I was berating myself for, and that the second rider, both times we played this race, bunched them up, but I still feel my sloppiness was the beginning of the race’s down fall. I missed rider two’s go as I pulled up with my head shaking, and tuned back in by the time Carol Ann, rider three, was checking up for her pick, which involved the two remaining flags stuck together. She pulled hers and the other flag flew. Collectively as a team, we all knew it was over. Carol Ann had a fast correction, Linda went and did her thing, and surprisingly we finished the race in third (I believe).

 

While we were caught up in our own struggle, Border Patrol had picked up their game in the final, and Groppits seemed to have slipped from their game some, leaving Groppits in Fourth, and Border Patrol in Third. When second place was announced as being only ONE POINT behind the first place team, I could have kicked myself, assuming my legs were able to turn that way. When they announced Time Flies as second, none of us saw coming. Linda and I both jumped like little kids and high fives were handed out.

 

I know I was rusty and not up to my usual game, but so was everyone else. One point is nothing. Time Flies has probably already practiced that one point, back into their game. I know they will be at MA#2 with their game faces on, and ready to ride hard. It is so exciting to have this type of close competition, and not just with Time Flies, but all the teams were out there, taking their ride seriously, and playing better than ever. Just writing this, I feel like I need to get on the practice field immediately!  MA#2 is only five weeks away. EEEK!

 

Photo: Genevieve Arens of EquiStar Photography

Team shot: Zaccone

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