Mid-Atlantic #1 – April 13/14, 2019

April 22, 2019

Two weeks ago we kicked off to the 2019 MGAA season with the first installment of the Mid-Atlantic Series in Doswell, VA at the Meadow Event Park. We love this facility and it’s people. It is further south than the other venues we use so it makes a nice venue for the early and late ends of the season. We also have a massive field to ride in with near endless run off. Years past this field has drained really well and maintained excellent footing even with some wicked weather but this weekend that was not the case.

Reminiscent of last year, the rain started up about 15 minutes before I got home from work to hook up, load up, and leave on Friday morning. But I jumped to it and ran back in the house right before I pulled out for some additional dry clothes.

I arrived, had the ponies set up, met up and helped some friends, and moved into camp well before dark. The rain lulled for a while and gave everyone a little time to hang out and chat before it picked back up and then started back up making sure we were all in bed at a reasonable 9pm adult bedtime.

Saturday morning we were the last to ride so I started the day off coaching intermediate, then working Open, then helping in Leadline where Possum got his warm up. Then it was our turn for session 1.

Unfortunately I set Possum up for a very rough start by keeping him in the ring to adjust his tack while all the other ponies left, including Simon. I managed to get his bridle back on by the time my division rode in but by then he was rearing up and just acting like a fool. Val came over with Babyface and a few other lovely by-standards stepped up and I managed to get on, and just kept him moving. He was so tense and very worried.

(Photo: M Johnson)

We went over to the the last lane, number 8, and after a bumpy warm up bending he settled enough for me to take part in the first race of the season, speed weavers (bending). It went ok, clean but not spectacular. We did finish second through so clearly my team carried me.

We rotated to lane 1, next to the speakers, for race 2, Bank. He was scooting around and would not stand still so I opted to sit that race and Jon jumped in. Unfortunately since I was then out 5th I had to get off and go hold the bank board. Getting off was not ideal but it had to be done. My team won the race in clean style and when I got back Possum was rearing up and dancing around in Brea’s hands like the foolish pony he was pretending to be. It took a moment to get back on and Brea questioned him being afraid of the speakers. Which I flipped my hand at, just thinking he was still worked up from earlier.

Next up was Litter Scoop, which is a race I’ve been feeling strong at in practice. But in Session 1, I was tense and so was Possum. He was being very light on his front end and I was apprehensive to get a good lean. So I flicked the litter around a bit before carrying on which cost my team. It certainly could have been worse, and honestly I did not see how the rest of my team did since I was very focused on Mr P.

Four flag went surprisingly well. I opted for an outside turn vs my usual inside since Possum’s navigation and my leaning were both not up to their usual standards. He hopped a little but I don’t remember it being bad. We finished third so I suppose it was not horrible. This is a race that generally runs amazingly efficiently across the whole division with little to no pausing for the put in.

The next race I was in was Ring Race and Possum felt like he was going to duck out on taking a hand off so I over corrected and yelled for Jon to “ride into me”. But Possum did not duck out and there for I set us up for a collision. Possum did a little rear-turn to avoid the collision and Jon significantly slowed down so the actual collision was mostly avoided and was more of a friendly bump. I held on with all I had but I ended up on my backside in the mud. Jon was right there though and I was back in the saddle and onto the field in no time to finish up my portion of the race cleanly, although slow. We pulled a third here too so I suppose it wasn’t as awful as it felt.

Jon’s years of games really shows in these types of situations. He moves confidently and quickly with smooth precision and everything is perfectly thought out. It’s one of those – time stops – types of situations. And everything is fixed and moving on again in the most effective and efficient manner and nothing truly feels rushed.

Luckily I still had Two Flag to play in, which went fine and we took the win. It was a good note to finish the session on.

Focusing on just me and Possum right now, and diving into Session 2, the divisions were rearranged and we had 30 minutes to untack, grab food, and get back to the ring to work Open. Then I coached intermediate, mean while (the lovely) Jeri tacked up Possum and (the awesome) Caroline warmed him and Hero up. Caroline said Possum was going well and warmed up nicely and no sooner did those words leave her mouth then he reared up at her as I was about to mount up.

(Photo: M Johnson)

I admit this rearing thing was starting to get to me, particularly as I was mounting up, but I did manage to get on without any further incident and into the ring we went.

This session went much better for me and Possum. The real warm up certainly helped and although he was still tense and I had to keep him walking, I was more aware of what I was riding.

We finished the day and were back to camp at close to 8pm and I believe we were all whipped. We ate, Val set us up a nice little fire, and we managed some social time before we all crashed out around 11.

Sunday the divisions were shifted again, this time having us riding first which is my personal preferred time slot. It also meant I got to tack up and warm up my own pony! I do believe this helped immensely. We went into the ring feeling much more collected and prepared.

My team grabbed the first lane and this is when we learned that Brea was correct and Possum was not having the speakers. He was nice and calm until Anita started to talk over the PA and then he tensed up and started to shake and scoot around. In warm up bending I could hardly keep him lined up as he shied from the side lines where the sound was booming from, so I sat out and Carly jumped in. It took a while to get him to relax but he did keep all four on the ground for the entire day.

I jumped in on Twitter, Windsor, pony express, and so on. The only real issue was in two flag. I was over checking and he didn’t seem to get it and leaped when I went to place my flag. Nothing drastic.

I was happy with my four flag place which was done rather smoothly, and before we knew it the session was over.

I would say the third session was Possum’s best. I think partly because I was able to warm him up, partly because I knew what to expect from him, and also because it was his third time on that field.

I am going to try some ear plugs at home and then at the one day pairs coming up. I did not want to shove them in his ears mid session and risk worse behavior. I also need to relax and ride and have more confidence in myself. He really was not that rough, and being able to recognize the things setting him off is helpful.

I suspect his rearing is a tactic he is trying to get out of work. It did not work and hopefully we are past that soon. Rearing is not something I am comfortable with or think makes a nice photo or anything crazy like that. It needs to stop.

So we have some work to do. And I also want to give him some time doing some other things like trails and other non games stuff. Let him clear his head. He has been in hard games training since mid December when I got him and a little more variety would be good.

My team was amazing. I am always proud of them.

Jon is such a solid rock. His experience and logical thinking come in handy and his calm presence is an asset. He is also crazy insightful which is always appreciated. He pulled off some of his crazy moving stirrup mounts and picked up a lot of my slack filling in on the low leaning races. I am both sad I was uncomfortable doing those since the I have been feeling strong at the leans, but also really comforted that he was able to jump in and complete them. The last thing I needed was to go out and totally bomb some races and get more discouraged.

Matt is so good to have back. Another rock. He’s always good to go and willing to do whatever. I think he was let down he was not cleared (by us) to be vaulting yet (after all his surgeries we just wanted to be sure he was clear to vault) but will be back to springing on by MA2.

Val and Babyface have really come into their own. They looked awesome last year but this year BF has his job down. His speed is just killer and he was making it to the C line ahead of everyone just about every time. Now that he has added in the part of – what to do next – he is going to be unstoppable. I think he has already earned Most Improved Pony for 2019.

(Possum was a pig in his stall)

Carly really stepped up. She made one small mistake all weekend and just cruised along like a professional. This was her and Remy’s first real competition on a more serious team and they were completely in the game. I was so proud of her. She pulled her weight and some of mine, stepping in when Possum needed to sit and not only getting the job done but getting it done smoothly.

So the season only has to go up from here. Here’s to preparing for MA2!

Thanks Kim T for the video.

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