Mid-Atlantic #2 August 2018

August 23, 2018

MA2 was originally scheduled for May but due to extreme weather conditions it was rescheduled for August. This is the first time we have rescheduled a major team competition ever. It took some time to settle the new date and of course it dented the turn out but it was still worth the effort.

The Over25 division was stacked with 8 teams, although several of the teams were riding four man or riding with subs. Open was cut about in half and only had four teams playing for the weekend. The intermediate division sat at just three teams and Novice only had two teams. The Lead Line division came out in force and was at its largest with six enthusiastic players!

Sussex in New Jersey is a longer drive for myself down in Virginia. But it’s not a bad drive. The first four and a half hours are pretty much straight up the major highway I live off off. Pretty simple. Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. The last hour and twenty is a bit daunting, twisting back highways through small towns and rural areas and then a sudden arrival at the show grounds. In reverse on the way home it is much more pleasant and seems to pass much more quickly.

The grounds are pretty nice. The camping is on grass. The barns, bathrooms, and riding rings are all central. The stalls are nice, the rings have excellent footing and the arenas, although not the widest, are nice and long.  All and all, well worth the effort, although its worth leaving earlier on Friday to head up.

This weekend Gone Rogue was again four man, with the foundation of Val, Jon and myself, and joined by the new Rogue recruit, Britney.  We started off with a pretty decent first session, clean and really rather smooth.  Our second session followed suit and we were pretty confident with our place in the A final before the second heat ran.

Our last competition, MA4, our first competition as a four man team with Britney/Nicky and Simon was a little messy, but this one we seemed to have gotten our act together.  We rode like we knew each other and how to play.  I am tentative to say, incase of some voodoo jinxing, we got all of our hand offs!  Not a one hit the floor.  Which is usual for Gone Rogue, but with our team switch ups, both Nationals and MA4 were a mess of fallen handoffs.  It was nice to be back on point with such a vital skill.

I still feel like I am riding a borrowed pony on Simon.  I am not sure what he will do on some instances.  Not that I feel like he will duck out or buck on me, but more that I am unsure how much WHOA or check I need for a skill, or if he is going to drop a shoulder into a turn, or lean into my lean to take something out.  And he is not as sensitive as some ponies, so a little leg does not go a long way on him.  Holding him off a barrel turn for example, is not just “be prepared to throw on a little inside leg”.  So I am overly setting up some of my skills. Playing too cautiously. My turns are deeper and wider that I probably need them, and my checks for skills, like an association put down, tend to be early and conservative.  I know some of them are too conservative, and checks is one of the places I can and should push out on more now.  This is my first big spot to work on. Turns might take a bit more time, but checks, I do need to trust myself on more.  The pony does have fab brakes.

Simon did have one complete “WTH” moment.  I could feel him going for a poo as Jon was bringing me a hand off and thought, “oh no”.  Simon did not want to move on from a stand still.  Now, we DO move when we poo at home.  We don’t get to stop and take a bathroom break, so this was extra frustrating.  I mean, come on, poo fast at least! I felt like he was about to break out the Sunday paper.

Sunday we were warmed up and about to go in the ring when Simon yanked a back hoof up in pain and pulled up lame.  No idea what happened, I assumed a boulder lodged itself in his hoof, since when it happened we were simply trotting in a straight line across the perfectly worked amazing all weather footing.  But no boulder, or pebble was found and some swelling in his ankle began.  Bomb Squad rider, Cindy took a peek and agreed with my move to pull him.  And she helped steal him up for the long drive home while I coached the next heat after ours.  I am so grateful for this and everyone else’s quick hop to and concern.  Simon has never been off before and having my pony pull up so suddenly was a real shocker.  My team went in HC, while I went to untack and cold hose.

Since we were in the A final we finished in 5th, last in the A, being HC.  But it was a real bummer since we were really riding well in this competition and were all (of course) looking forward to a real ride em out with our fellow teams.  How frustrating.  But we choose not to have a 5th pony along knowing this is always a possibility.  Its a gamble and we rolled those dice.

The team looked good off in the end lane riding 3 man with one rider going twice.  I think we would have really given the other teams a real bit of added competition had we been actual contenders.

I am sure excited Gone Rogue brought it together for this competition and had our stuff worked out.  I am really enjoying riding with Britney.  Her bubbly personality fits in so well, and that Nicky, I have always loved that pony. The pair of them pulled it together for MA2 and rode well. Britney is easy going and can pop into any order pretty much where ever and she did seamlessly. She also pulled off some pretty nice vaults!

I think every time I write a competition post I rave about Jon and Val, both amazing accomplished games players that I couldn’t be happier to ride with.  So lets just rave once more here, WOOO they are freaking amazing.  Jon is so level and clock work dependable.  He is making Jeeter really work and be a real upper level games pony. He got the hand off issues that came up at Nationals sorted out and is getting tighter turns too. His only handicap is reach. Being on such a big horse he has to really lean and sometimes he still needs to lean just a tiny bit more. I am still surprised when he pulls off some moves from way up there.

Val is a monster out there just whipping out craziness.  But like last competition, she reined it in and has been putting Babyface into controlled schooling mode and it is paying off. BF still has a lot of legs to get sorted out and his butt is still all over the place. But it’s all coming into line slowly. Somehow she keeps him from hitting stuff. I am honestly not sure how.

So now we have a few weeks off until MA5 back at Grange.  Which is good so Simon can rest up.  I did have my vet out and he checked Simon out and declared him to most likely have rolled his ankle and that he strained his suspensory (using some Latin-esk words) ankle part, no tears or anything major.  So a solid week off, cold hosing and bute, and then back into light easy work.  I decided to pull him from pairs the following weekend (after two weeks off) and give him more time off to play it safe.  No sense in pushing him and causing damage we don’t have at this point.

Simon is loving his pampered life in the yard paddock, with lots of extra attention, and twice a day feedings (to administer bute).  He loves greeting us when we pull into the house, when we walk out of the house, when we go into the bathroom (he can see in the bathroom window) and pretty much whenever he can see or hear us in or near the house.

I am hoping to get in a real practice with Simon before MA5 where I can really work on my turns and checks and hand offs. I can drill some skills at home but hand offs needs assistance. My team is usually all for practicing, we just have limited opportunity in the summer season so we will see.

Thanks K Mahoney and J Hicks for photos.

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