The Dry Lot Flooding

May 23, 2018

The Dry Lot Flooding just keeps getting worse. I checked on it yesterday and it is a legit pond.

These photos were Tuesday night (while it was raining)

It just keeps amazing me.

It was actually not raining today so I got to ride. And of course I rode around the pond and I noticed it’s deeper. It’s over the fence in quiet a few places and actually lapping at the top of the hay shelter (pier) in spots.

I also find it note worthy, look at the ground in the photo above. It’s mostly dry. Not only do we not have mud, the field is actually dry where it’s not completely flooded. Crazy.

This is from the back gate to the field. The hay shelter is to the left. The spring feeding it is ahead to the right.

This is from where the spring is, the hay shelter is straight ahead. This is one of the higher spots in the field. Where Daisy is standing.

Last night the landlord was telling me the middle is probably 7 or 8 feet deep.

So I rode Poe for a while and then I decided to take him for a swim. So I untacked him, put on my Crocks, and in we went.

He is such a brave pony. He did not hesitate at all. He marched on in and right on down. His head did go under, I am not sure if he stepped deeper than he expected, and that threw him off a little. He swam a few strokes and then came out. But we turned around and he marched right back in.

He was so proud of himself. I decided to grab Simon and take him in. Simon really wanted to stand around and splash and “soak”. He swam for a second and seemed to scare himself a bit, and unseated me a little. I was laughing so hard it took me a minute to drag myself straight again.

Poe is certainly braver. Simon would have preferred to have a buddy along.

Trail Report: Bear Trap Loop – Fire Road 536 – 5/20/18

May 22, 2018

Since my competition was cancelled this weekend due to the massive amounts of rain we have been getting, and Sunday was the first clear day in a week, I needed to get on a trail. I decided to go south to Augusta county since they got less rain. I also wanted paved parking and an area that I expected to have drained well. So I decided on Bear Trap. I have not been here in years but it was one of my favorite places to ride at one time. There are tons of side trails to explore and plenty of rolling fire roads.

Parking: from North River Rd make a right onto Bear Trap Road. Maybe a half mile up the road on the left hand side is the entrance to 536. In the winter the gate is closed, but the gate was open today. It’s still easy parking across from the entrance on the shoulder of the road. I include the turn and parking on the video in this post.

This is a nice area to ride. It drains well and is lightly frequented. I have seen another person here a few times but not very frequently. I have run into Bear here. One time in particular was during a very dry summer when everyone seemed to be running into Bear, assuming they were coming down more in search of water. I ran into three Bear on one ride. The first was on the ridge top. The second was on the trail back down and the third was on the fire road back out and she had two cubs with her. It was a very memorable ride.

This location also has a lot of mushroom growth in the spring and fall. Lots of colorful jack o lantern mushrooms! Very pretty to look at (but not eat). I have also seen more than one turtle here.

For today’s ride, I decided to do the loop. This runs about 7 miles, is rather slow going, but has a big climb.

Ride in along the fire road, which is nice to move out on. Is smooth and well maintained. The gravel is not too big or bumpy. No bad washouts.

About a half mile in there is a creek crossing. It was pretty average for this time of year considering all the rain we have had. I expected it to be deeper.

At about a mile in there is a specific turn off for the loop. It is pictured above with the sun glinting down on it.

Straight ahead here – the left hand side of the fire road. Today there was an old metal trashcan there.

Years ago I called and asked the Forest Service about some of the side trails in this area and I was told that these are old logging roads that have grown back. I was encouraged to enjoy them, ride out on them, but know thy are not maintained. Some are still marked on maps and some are not. Which can be confusing. In this area there is on on the left we already passed that is marked on the map that is not there.

This is a well used bit of trail. It is a bit uphill but not bad. After a short while it comes to what was probably the end of the logging road. Or more likely a circle, parking area. There are two old parts going left and right that I have ridden in the distant past, but for the loop we want to go over the berm and up the hill. This is where the climb begins.

The last time I was here this circle area was more of a clearing than it is now. The under growth has taken over more in the past few years and it takes a tiny bit of imagination to picture the “circle” part.

Up and over the berm and up the climb. It is still a pretty established trail, easy to follow and clear. And it is a good workout. Simon needed to stop and catch his breath.

I came down it once and it sucked. I got off and hiked, meaning slid down. I did not enjoy it.

At the top, the trail runs into a ridge top trail running perpendicular right and left. For the loop we want to head right. There used to be a very clear mark on the tree ahead to help mark the turn from the other direction, for those going down, but it was mostly washed away now. I wonder if this is a less traveled trail these days. The turn to the left looked pretty over grown too.

The ride from the fire road to the top of the mountain was just about .9 miles I believe. I call it out on the video.

Off to the right it starts off a bit over grown here too. Luckily it clears out after a bit and there were no downed trees to obstruct the path, but there were some branches in the way.

Not too far on there is a rocky area. I used to ride below it easily but it is much over grown below it so I dismounted to check it out and decided to lead Simon over it instead. It’s very short and not that bad at all. I could have stayed Mounted. Honestly I was more likely to fall leading him than the danger being on his back would have posed. I did video this bit and purposefully did not replay it before loading it here.

Most of the trail is like the photo above. Simple. A bit tight, with a few knee knockers. But mostly clear of over growth. Some rocks but not bad.

Eventually it spills out onto the fire road. Going left heads up to the picnic area by the cell phone tower. Which is not far at all. The new 432 is also just to the left as well.

For this loop we turn right and go just a very short ways down to pick up 439 on the right. It’s down hill, slightly steep at first and then less so. It was also a bit over grown at first and then cleared.

Nothing too impressive along here.

It pops back out on the fire road and we make a right. Of course left is another option for miles and miles of fire road.

This is still a nice bit of fire road, with an easy to set good rolling pace. The creeks on the side are generally dry in the deep summer.

The only true fire road turn off you pass is on the right, 536E Shanks Road. But there are tons of unmarked trails. Lots of exploring out here. I remember that’s why I loved this area so much. But I am not as excited about this loop as I used to be.

and eventually back out to the road where parking is. Then drive straight ahead and the road wraps on back out to North River. Simple.

It was a nice ride. And if I lived closer I would enjoy exploring here all over again. But it’s a bit far now so I’ll keep exploring the areas out my way.

Video part 1/2

Video part 2/2

Litter Scoop. Initial Trial

May 21, 2018

At our Emergency Games Practice we got in a lot of different races. One race we wanted to play was the new “Litter Scoop” recently approved by the IMGA Rulebook Committee to be introduced into the rulebook in 2019. We suspected this race would be a fun challenge with the need to scoop a litter straight on, right after a hand off.

Initially we felt it would be similar in skill to the scoop in Twitter, but in practice I felt like it played quite different. I actually quite like it. I think it will be one of those races (which most are, but some more so than others) that just feels wicked when the skills come together to play smoothly. It has the potential to be incredibly fast as well. Of course there is plenty of room for error, especially as riders get used to the new skill and technique.

I actually think it has some potential to be more of a technical race for some of the less speedy teams, at least initially while riders work out perfecting their scoop at speed.

I am very pleased to see IMGA introducing a few new races. I like Bottle Exchange and think it plays well. I think Litter Scoop has the same potential. To the poo-pooers out there, I think you need to give it a chance. Certainly try it out before you smear a negative prospective all over it.

I tried it. I like it. And I am eager to try it in competition!

The video of us playing – it’s a messy little video. We were trying to play and video each other. I think Jon and Sadie did the best but I only caught one of Jon and I never managed to catch Sadie on a video that didn’t make me sea sick to watch.

Emergency Games Practice 05/19/18

May 20, 2018

It’s been raining and raining and raining all week and this has caused crazy record flooding up and down the east coast, trees uprooting, mudslides, power outages, bridge and roadway washouts, and just craziness. In response to mother nature’s outburst our big Mid-Atlantic #2 competition in New Jersey this weekend was canceled pending a reschedule date. This is the first time any of us can remember a major team competition being cancelled in advance.

This is never an easy call. Carl, part of the organizing committee, went to the grounds Thursday to investigate and the ring was already wet and he sighted puddles, with heavy rain pending still before the competition start and more scheduled rain for the entire Saturday of the competition. Not only is riding in the rain and slop not as much fun, but it can pose a safety hazard. We were faced with ponies pulling up lame during monsoon like rains back in 2011 during MGAA Nationals held at the same grounds. The footing in the arenas could not hold up to the amounts of rain we were getting then. Which we are getting again now.

Photo: Poe does love his job. I swear.

All that said, I would certainly still have ridden. I know my pony and I am comfortable bringing back my speed and adding support to my pony in compromised conditions. But, I know not everyone else is. And even so, no mater how much I bring him back, it’s still a risk. And I certainly respect the organizers decision. I wouldn’t want to see anyone or any pony get hurt. And it sure is nice being dry!

Knowing we had some flexibility this weekend we decided to set up a practice at the indoor at Frying Pan Park in Herndon Saturday afternoon. $15 a rider, 2pm till dark. We got a group of nine of us together and two lanes of equipment and we met up for some fun!

We ran through at least a dozen races, riding for about three solid hours before our group really broke up. In the end it was mostly the ponies who were done, not so much the riders. When Poe was done, I switched to Simon, who could have gone all day! But by then most everyone was about done with games so I only got to do a few races on him.

Video of Pony Pairs:

It’s been a while since I have played games on Simon but he felt good. He was responsive and ready.

Video of Simon doing Four Flag – outside and inside turns:

But since everyone else was done, Zoe, Jessie and I decided to hack out and around the cross country course for a bit. This was a really fun time. The course has some massive jumps. Most are not very well kept up but there are quite a lot of them through the woods and fields. We played around at a few, measured a few to our ponies, and gawked at others. We saw a fox, twice, some ducks too. And there was this crazy crow that really was all about attention.

Video of Zoe and Jessie playing on the cross country course:

We finished riding and headed out of the grounds around 7 and decided to stop for Tai for dinner. It looked like just a little place from the outside, nothing special, but inside it was so neat and the food was amazing. This was a really nice cap to the end of an awesome awesome day.

Photo: the bears were wearing costumes!

I love my games family.

Now we have to wait two weeks until Mid-Atlantic #3. Lets hope for dryer conditions. I don’t think it has ever been this wet around here. At least not in my memory.

Let There Be CHICKENS!

May 18, 2018

This post is not about horses, it’s about chickens!

When we moved to our current house four or five years ago we gave our chickens away and I have missed them ever since. We knew we would eventually get chickens again but we needed to get ourselves and our primary animals set up and established first, work out the kink.

By the end of last summer I felt the ponies were well established with all the field rotations and such worked out. And I felt ready for chickens again.

We live in a more rural area, with a lot more predators. Predators that come up to our porch and walk around our house. So we needed to make sure we had our chicken set up figured out before we had any birds so we could protect them.

So I spent the fall and winter researching and comparing coop options; build our own, buy a prefab, Craigslist used, options, options?

I wanted a secure coop. One I could lock the chickens in securely. I wanted it to have a small secure run also attached. I wanted it to be easy to clean. I needed an easy coop, convenient, manageable. I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money and I wanted to see how well the chickens would do with all these predators anyway.

In the end I decided on a Tractor Supply prefab coop. It was on sale for $200 from $250. It is a secure coop with an attached secure run. There are three nesting boxes with a nice little door that opens easily in the back for simple egg removable. The floor is a tray that slides out for super easy cleaning. Two nesting rails inside and one outside, it has ventilation, and several doors to the outside.

To finalize the security we just needed to add some more wire across the bottom which was inexpensive and simple to do.

We could not build a similar coop for that cost.

I ordered the coop and when it arrived Rich and I put it together. It was pretty easy and took about an hour. The instructions were easy to follow and al the parts were included. We did add some extra screws but otherwise followed the directions exactly.

We placed the coop right next to the house in our back porch area. We figured this would help with the predators. We also want the chickens to help with pest control around the house. Chickens love to eat ticks and slugs and little bothersome bugs. They also kill mice and other unwanted household pests.

Then we picked up one laying hen and six pullets in a variety of colors. My goal was for every chicken to look different. Accomplished! The laying hen has yet to lay an egg and the pullets are still too young. But we are hoping to be rolling in the eggs by the end of the summer and even more so next spring.

Rich and I have both been spending time “chicken watching”. It’s a good piece of mind. I love to watch them do their chicken yoga, stretching their wings and legs, taking dust bathes, pecking around, chasing bugs, and just being chickens. If you have not spent any time chicken watching and letting your mind unwind, you should give it a try.

Every morning I open their door and they spend the day going in and out eating bugs and bits of grass. They are rather timid still but are getting more ambitious. Lupin, our cat, loves to hang out with them. So does our cattle dog Ash. And Rich and I both enjoy chicken watching.

It’s so good to have chickens again!

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