Mid-Atlantic Games #2 – 2014

June 19, 2014

Mid-Atlantic #2 Mounted Games Series, was held the first weekend of June at Grange Fairgrounds in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania. This is one of my favorite competitions of the year for several reasons. It is in the spring before it is too hot, but it is generally warm and dry. The grounds are fantastic with grass camping, a huge arena, great views, cooler temperatures, showers, the place fits our organization’s needs perfectly. This competition also usually has one of the best turnouts of the series. And importantly, the organizers really try to perfect each detail of the competition from the list of races, to scheduling, and prizes. It’s all thought out and it is clear that a lot of work goes into the details.

 

I attended this year as a competitor, riding Poe, on my team, Old School, in the adult division. I also played the part of, Masters Chief Referee. I really enjoy being a referee.

 

The schedule was a little different than usual; we started with two heats of Masters before the (fossil) adult division rode. This felt awkward to me, and I much prefer to ride first. I think a lot of the other adult riders feel the same. I am sure part of it is that we are used to starting the day off with our ride, and then moving on to the work tasks. The normal flow, just felt wrong. Another part probably has to do with energy levels, and being able to get the riding done before the work shifts. But it was all good. So I started my day refereeing and then it was time to ride.

 

I had planned ahead and had Poe tacked up and tied waiting for me while I refereed. My teammate Kim, always willing to help a friend out, ponied Poe from her pony Chip, while she warmed up so Poe would be ready to go when it was our turn to ride.

 

Linda had made our race orders the night before, and smartly left me and Poe out of the bending and mounting races. This means we sat out of the first two races, Speed Weavers and Sock. The next two races, 3 Mug and Mug Shuffle, happen to be two of my favorite races and I was eager to get my game on. Unfortunately, I sucked them both up. On my third mug in 3 Mug, I just the pole and dropped the mug. I hopped off, put it on the pole, and then remounted (relatively quickly for me), and galloped home. In Mug Shuffle, Poe got a little confused, and tried to bend the poles,  and in my attempt to correct him, we ran right over the pole. So I had to hop off, fix it, and then quickly remount before I could continue. We did not totally bomb the two races, finishing 4th and 5th respectively (out of 6 teams), my confidence did take a major hit. I felt like I was out there riding alone, bombing the races in extreme fashion. I pulled myself out of the next race, Bottle Shuttle, in an attempt to get myself into the zone.

 

I came back in for Association and had a nice run with us finishing 3rd. I continued to ride with my head in the game for the rest of the session, Tack Shop (2nd), Hug a Mug (1st), Joust (1st), Pony Pairs (3rd), Sword (2nd), and sitting out of Founders.  I know this because I am looking back at the score sheets. But at the time of the ride, I left the ring feeling like I had single handedly bombed every race I was in. In reflection, I had some good races in there. My Tack Shop felt smooth, all of my hand offs were clean and my barrel turns in Hug a Mug and Association felt engaged and spot on. Old School finished second in the first session with 52 points, behind Time Flies with 58 and ahead of Border Patrol on 46.

 

I took a break, got something to eat, and rested up during the Intermediate sessions, and then returned to the arena to ref the Masters second session.

 

Then it was time for the adults to return to the arena for session two. We started with Two Flag, and I had to circle the cone for my put in. I have been beasting this race at home, and this really threw my confidence all over the place again. We finished the race in 4th, and moved onto 3 Pot Flag (1st) which was clean. I had to circle the barrel as fourth rider in Rubber Ducky, since I was unable to scoop all the ducks on my first turn, and we finished in a respectable 3rd. I redeemed my 3 Mug from the morning, and Old School took 1st in that one. That should have been a confidence boost, but I think my overall vibe was shot by that point. We finished the session, without me making any more mistakes, and looking back, it wasn’t a bad session for me. I was not as speedy as I could have been, but I was relatively smooth and steady.  Sadly, I left the ring, again, feeling like I had trapezed through the arena, plowing through everything, throwing equipment left and right. We tied for second, looking at only points from the second session, with 41 points to both Old School and Red Solo Cup. TimeFlies still had us with 47 points.

 

Saturday evening was enjoyable, I complained for a while, stating my suckyness loudly to my campsite, and then shrugged it off and enjoyed a lot of laughs as well as some smores. The camping is always enjoyable, and there never seems to be enough time to socialize with all of my friends.

 

Sunday brought a slightly overcast morning, which was nice, and I started out refereeing the Masters A and B finals. I always enjoy watching the finals, particularly the Masters A, and reffing it is like having a court side seat. I suppose it literally is a court side seat. Ha. As always it was a tough match, and there were a lot of phenomenal displays of games skills and horsemanship and dang, there are some amazing ponies to watch.

 

Then it was time for our final. Since there were only 6 teams in our division, we were riding in one heat, and our total scores from all three sessions would be added together for the final placement. We entered the arena in second with 93 points to Time Flies 105. Ouch. Border Patrol was sitting on 81, with Red Solo Cup on 80, Groppits on 60 and Antiques Road Show on 37.

 

Again we started with Speed Weavers, which I was again, smartly, sitting out of. We moved onto Flag Fliers, which is generally a race I start, because my pull is usually clean. Sadly, this seems to be a skill that I am currently lacking, and will be practicing at home extensively. I somewhat bunched the flags on my pull, and this required my teammates to go slower for their pickups, leaving us to finish 3rd.

 

You might have picked up on a trend at this competition, the one where I suck in my first race. And if so, you would be accurate! I pulled it back together after that, running nicely through 4 flag (5th), Sword (5th), and Carton (1st). I was particularly happy with my carton because I leaned much farther than I usually do, and really got my hand down there. Genevieve got a photo of it, which was nice because I could prove to myself that I did not just imagine it! My litter was a crappy. When I got down there the litter had been knocked sideways, but that is not what messed me up. I just sucked. I did decent after that until Quoits race, which I totally bombed. I was so proud of my improved mounting, and pushed my team to let me ride Quoits race. I got down there, and when I went to get back on, Poe moved just a little, and my saddle slid just a little, and it took me a bit to get back on.  This left me off center, and I missed my ring placement. I was just flat out sloppy with it. AHHH. So I had to get off, again, and then I really could not get back on. Poe was not being bad, he just took the smallest step, and my saddle was already slid over a bit, and it was not holding tight (my girth needed to go up a hole), so I ran back to the A line and Averi held Poe while I laboriously climbed back on. Averi gave me a smile and a reassuring word, which really helped, and I distinctly remember Carol Ann telling me my decision to run back was smart, and to shake it off. Both of these did help some, but I was just off my mental game. I bombed the race. Totally and completely, killed it. And what shreds of my confidence were left went out the window with all the possible points we did not get in that race.

 

I did ride well in Mug Shuffle, which was our next race, but I kept my pace down, playing it safe. I should have been quite proud of my performance in Ball and Cone, and Key Hole, but by that time my head was just not there and I did not recognize my decent performances for what they were. We finished this session in third with 54 points, behind Time Flies with 77 and Border Patrol with 56. Red Solo Cup was behind us with 48.

 

Luckily we had collected enough points in the first two sessions to make up for the third, and we finished in second place overall with 147 behind Time Flies with a whopping 182 and Border Patrol only 10 points behind us with 137. Red Solo Cup finished in 4th with 128, followed by Groppits with 104 and Antiques Road Show had 72 points in 6th place.

 

All in all, I did not ride nearly as bad as I felt I did. I wasn’t at the top of my game, but I was not the only one on the team to make mistakes and I certainly did not bomb every race like I felt I did. It got into my head, and I felt like my team was staring down at me with needle eyes, while I sabotaged all of the races I was in.  I let them down and did not play up to the standard I set for myself. It is crazy what goes on in a person’s head sometimes. If I had taken the time on Saturday to look at the actual score sheets, I would have seen that I did not do as bad as I thought I did. And I am sure that would have led me to a better final session on Sunday. But hey, hind sight is 20/20.

 

If my team is reading this; if this happens again, tell me to go study the score sheets and to pull up my big girl panties and get my head in the game.

 

****All of the riding photos below were taken by Genevieve Arens of Equistar Photorgraphy****

The two camp site photos were taken by myself and J McCulley.

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