2019 MGAA Nationals – July 12-14, 2019

July 22, 2019

I always struggle to remember details after a competition. Nationals is particarly difficult since it’s so much longer and because I organize it so I am extra busy. But I am giving it a go.

Val and I arrived late Wednesday, settled the ponies in and set up camp. I really enjoy arriving earlier because we can enjoy a leisurely Thursday morning before everyone starts to arrive and I have to get to work sorting prizes and setting things up. Plus we get to enjoy camping and hanging out.

We got up Thursday morning and puttered around. Then we went for a nice little hack.

People started to arrive in the early afternoon and I got to work. But I managed to close up the office and spend some time socializing with friends in the evening as well.

Friday quickly arrived and I was up extra early to feed, muck (Possum is the biggest stall pig) and get the show started. On Friday we started the day with Intermediate so once things were rolling I ran into the ring to coach Riptide.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

The day was set with 30 minutes between sessions which lent plenty of time after intermediate to get my own pony tacked and warmed up for the first of our five sessions. We went into the ring and I felt ready to roll. Possum was relaxed. This is the first time he has not been tense for the first session. Progress.

Photo: Genevieve Arena Photography

Unfortunately Possum being relaxed did not foretell a good session for him.

Photo: Genevieve Arena Photography

Possum and I were slow but our real demise started with the Tack Shop Race which is one of my favorite races. We were already suffering some mistakes and then I flipped my coin back out of the holder on my way out as our fourth rider. I forgot how to be a games player. It was just a messy correction disaster, I couldn’t get on, I kicked my broken finger, then stabbed possum with it, I thought there was just the one other team finishing up, but nope they were still in play, it was just every sort of bad and it was completely remedial games playing.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

The second to last race, four flag, Possum decided not to move out. And by not move out I mean I was struggling to keep him in a canter, and he broke to a trot two thirds of the way up the field and that was that. Possum and I are already slow slow slow so this even slower but was crushing. He was fine on the way back to A but still slow. This followed suit in Ring Race as well. He did not want to go forward with speed. He crossed the line fine but was just a slug.

During the break I felt very discouraged and frustrated with Possum. I discussed it with a few people and contemplated my actions if he continued bulking.

He has felt like he is enjoying his new job up to this point. Is this him beginning to sour? Is something hurting? Was it just another pony stunt like all the other ones he has tested out and failed at?

Luckily Possum redeemed himself in session 2. He was a bit bulky behind the line but after some self observation I think it might be manifesting from me starting and stopping him so much before our turn. I tend to ask my pony to step up then stop and then step up then stop multiple times as I prepare for my turn. I didn’t realize I did this until Possum started to bulk. Each time he was fine to go out in the end but would start to bulk on one of my first steps forward. In reaction I tried not to step forward until I actually needed to. And when he did get stuck all it took was a teammate to move past or along side of me for a few short steps for him to release. Not professional games pony but better.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

My session 2 was accurate and although slow (have I mentioned that Possum and I are slow?), Possum was moving forward and back to his happy games playing self.

I did leave the ring personally on a much better note and decided to call off the Possum burger cookout I had started to set up after session one.

Friday night was lovely with some social time and a decent bedtime. The Open riders had moved in during the day and Saturday morning rang early.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

Saturday we started off session three as the first session of the day. It was an ok session. We managed to move into second place but just by a point.

The afternoon brought session four and it was a total hit or miss. We had some wins but we had some losses. We did end the session tied for second and felt like we were going to bring our A game to the final.

But Sunday we did not bring our A game. Session five started off rough. We cleaned up our act for a few races in the middle but we started to bomb again towards the end. We finished in a sad third place.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

All the focus I have on my pony certainly detracts from my focus on my own skills and I am lucky that I am often reminded by my team “use your voice” when I clam up or “make sure you don’t check up too soon” and “remember not to kick when you’re doing your skills”. Which is forever helpful. But because I am distracted, it also means I am not as encouraging and as enthusiastic towards my teammates as I should be.

I am just way focused on myself and not thinking of my team as much as I should be. I realize my confidence is at rock bottom with new pony struggles, we’ve all been there, but that’s not an excuse to withdraw from showing my team support.

Photo: Genevieve Arena Photography

I need to start asking for a little more speed from Possum. He doesn’t seem to have ever gone fast. And I don’t think he knows he can go fast. So I’m not sure how much is there. But certainly he has more than we are seeing now. When I train a new pony I get them experience before I ask for any speed and this has proven to work for me. And now I think we can start adding a little more speed with Possum. Let him start to learn about moving out a bit more.

I also need to keep working on Possum’s hand offs. Which are improving, but I am working with my legs and hands or keep him straight for hand offs and it’s causing me to get my hand out for hand offs late. When I did get my hand out earlier he drifted away from hand offs a bit.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

Possum also still needs lots of work on balance and carrying himself straight. I think this will help improve him all around. Flat work, flat work, flat work. And hopefully he will pan out to be the games pony I need.

Some video from our 5th session:

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