MGAA International Team 2019 – Training Camp

July 25, 2019

This past weekend we kicked off the 2019 MGAA International Team activities with a training camp. The Radford family stepped up to host everyone at their lovely home in Lovettsville, VA and we were able to arrange some gracious ride time at the Carpenter’s arena in nearby Round Hill, Virginia.

We knew from the start that teammember Sadie was not going to be able to make the weekend and we missed her crazy antics and amazing personality but we had a fantastic time even without her. Jesse was also only able to take part in the first ride session and daytime social time but we took what we could get. Abby F, Abby R, and Mikayla were all in for the long haul arriving Friday evening. I joined them at the ring for the first ride session Saturday morning.

We had a nice assortment of ponies including four of the Radford’s, my two, my teammate Matt’s pony Hero and although we didn’t need more, my other teammate Val also offered all of her ponies. Matt and Val both know how important it is for these riders to get on as many different ponies as possible. And also how important it is for me to see how they handle different ponies and which ones they are most comfortable on.

This weekend was important for me to also get to know the riders better. I regularly coach Abby F and Mikayla on their usual MGAA team, and I also coached Sadie last summer. But I have not worked with Abby R or Jesse. So getting to know them under saddle, especially on different ponies was extremely helpful. It was also an excellent opportunity for the riders to get to know each other and how they interact, and also get to know me as a coach.

I noted how they handed off with each other and who seemed most comfortable riding which ponies and doing which skills. So lots of good stuff there.

We started off with a nice two hour practice with me mostly observing them and their riding. They made very few mistakes and all rolled along nicely.

Did I mention it was ridiculously hot and all sorts of events were cancelling for the extreme conditions? Well these girls, and our ever helpful ring crew of Heather and Beth labored through the heat without a complaint.

After the first session we took a nice long relaxing break and enjoyed a refreshing and delusions lunch provided by Heather. We also spent a good few hours together making some reservations for the trip. The team helped pick out the hotel we will be staying in for the one night we are staying somewhere hotel-ish. And then we researched and found a camp ground in Northern Wales in Snowdonia where we will be exploring for a few days before the competition. The team was very helpful and Abby R is the one that finally found a camp ground for us.

Eventually we were back out for session two of riding. It was still wicked hot but by the time we were tacked up a storm was pending and pushing in much cooler air, forcing on a nice strong breeze and it even decided to rain lightly on us. It was all welcomed as the girls ran through another hour and a half of races before we called practice because of lightning. In this session I picked a few skills I saw that needed a little work and gave out a little home work for when the riders went back home. It was another excellent practice.

Back at the Radford’s house we dove into some pizza and then I was surprised with a delicious birthday cake and lovely presents from everyone. It was my birthday and it was so appreciated that everyone made me feel special. I can’t wait to show off my gifts and it really showed how much they all know me!

Right after cake I showered and then went right to sleep. That heat sucks it out of you. Plus I needed to rest up for the fun mini scrimmage back at the Carpenters the next day. And to avoid the heat we were starting early.

Sunday we were tacked up and ready to roll nice and early. Matt, who is a Pony Club Horseman is about to go to Pony Club Champs East, as were two other friends, Virginia and Grace. So they agreed to scrimmage with us. And Val joined us and flipped back and forth between the teams filling in as the forth rider for two teams.

We rode for about two hours rolling through races with Heather and Karen schlepping equipment. I am so proud of the team. They did an excellent job and rode well.

The whole weekend they were nothing short of fantastic and did an excellent job of jumping on a new pony and galloping off in a race whenever I said “switch”! There was not a single complaint and we did have a nice variety of build and personality in our ponies for them to show their skills on.

I am very much looking forward to the trip we have coming up in less than two weeks. I think this team is going to be extremely fun and will have an excellent time.

We hope you will join us in our blog posts and cheer us on as we share our adventures with you.

Here is a compilation of video clips from the second practice session and the scrimmage. Sorry, I did not think to get any video during the first session. And I also forgot to get a photo of everyone at the scrimmage.

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