2018 UK Trip – Day 11

June 24, 2018

last night (Saturday) was the party at the competition and the team was awesome. They checked in every hour as asked, and every check in they were bubbling with excitement and rambling incoherently about some exciting detail of the festivities. I gather that the silent disco was a huge hit with them. From my point of view it was genius. Yes people were singing loudly but it was still so much quieter than it probably would have been. Having an activity helps keep the party going in s fun and positive direction too. I really liked this idea. I wish we had enough people to putt it off too.

We were woken up at 730 this morning by a call from Amy that the ponies were not secure in their corrals. I said “ponies are loose” and all five of the team were out of bed and out the camper door in under 30 seconds like true equestrians. Apparently it was a chain reaction of one pony getting shocked and spooking another who then got shocked and it rolled into ponies running through fencing.

Musketeers Session 3 video clips

Grace only had one session today but her team finished strong in third. She looked great on Tilly and rode strong off lead. Way to go Grace!

Our Session 3 was also strong. We have improved with each session as we get to know our ponies better.

Video of our session 3.

I also ran into this wonderful old friend, Marilyn Hackman. I met Marilyn way back in the early 90s when I first started traveling with USMGA. She has been forever supportive and friendly and a welcome sight since then. I was so happy to see her and get a hug. We got in a nice chat and catch up too. I truly enjoyed this part of my day.

Krista and Emma were able to watch the Open Premier A final while the team tacked up. See tomorrow’s blog post for video. No time to compile it for today’s blog post.

Nikki also reminded Krista to get some photos of the joust board for Carl and had a quick mini equipment chat. Carl will be proud.

Then it was time for our session 4, which was ten races long. This was by far our best session. We actually finished third in it! If it had not been cumulative points we would have done pretty darn well! But we are still happy with our 5th over all. Woo!

Session 4 video – Emma thinks they might have missed s race or two.

I am so proud of the team. They rode really well. Each pony fit one rider rather well and only one rider. And each rider seemed to really enjoy their pony. If we had a few more sessions I think they would really be rocking and rolling. One comment I got a couple times was “they can really vault!” Which is so true. This is a vaulting team.

Each one of them brought some awesome skills to the team and surprised me more than a few times.

Fenya really stepped up as the youngest rider. She listened really well, always looked for instruction, and followed suit. She learned how to ride Gem, that did not mesh well with any of the other riders, and really used her legs, seat and VOICE well. Gem is a pony you have to ride through every aspect of the race and Fenya did. She had excellent vaults and I knew I could count on her in those races. Easy going, and laid back, Fenya stepped up. I am excited to watch this kid take her experience home and apply it to her regular games play. She is young and still has so much room to grow and improve but has such a strong foundation already to build off of. She really impressed me.

Steph was mostly consistent and dependable. She rode well and had excellent vaults. I liked her on Max, who matched her riding style very well. She was not always easy to work with, and not the most coachable rider, but I was happy to see she did look and respond to my hand signals during the last session when she rode in the fourth position a few times. When I gave her the “you have time” signal she took it slow and didn’t rush back in. Which was noticed and relayed over the PA system along the lines of “New Forest sees that they have time and they are playing smart” or something to that effect.

Eliza was easy to work with, receptive and appropriately confident. She rode Wispa beautifully. Another excellent pony rider match that I couldn’t be happier with. Always polite she really has matured and learned to take coaching well. She hit the field like a professional and it showed. She is not just a games rider and has a lot of solid riding foundation which came through in her riding on Wispa. She made the ride look easy. I feel like I could put her on anyone’s pony and feel confident they would be happy with her ability.

Caroline had a tough pony in Jazmina, that also didn’t suit any other rider and Caroline did a great job with her. Very different from her usual ride at home it took her a bit to get the hang of her but once she got the pony figured out it really came together. She is the one I would most like to have seen have a few more sessions. I think her next session would have been killer. She is a very coachable rider and works hard. I think she got a lot out of her rides and I am interested to see how she transcribes it when she gets home. This kid is about to take off. Look out MGAA Open teams.

Sadie was what I consider my clinch rider. Dependable and adaptable. I could put her in pretty much any position and she would do it. She was on the amazing Smoky Joe and she rode him like a sports car. Sadie was a little feisty to start with but was also coachable. And her worst was to be threatened to be pulled out of a vaulting race. She still has some growing (physically – I think she added a foot of leg over the past year, and mentally, she is only 15yo!) but she has some incredible potential coming on. She rides a lot like a boy, thinking of guts and gusto, but with more finesse. The one thing I think she is missing that I think will serve her well to develop is perspective.

All of these kids are really good and they still have so much potential ready to come out. They are really good and just waiting to be even better. BOOM!

I am so proud of this team. So so proud. They did such a fantastic job. Not just in their riding but in their socializing. They were an amazing team on and off the field. I really enjoyed this time with them and getting to know them better. The three I have traveled with before have grown and gotten more mature and really grown into more amazing people. And the two I have not traveled before wowed me even more then I expected. I could not be happier with this team.

It was another uncharacteristically warm and sunny day here in England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿. I think Krista and Emma even got some color.

* Something Emma and I have discussed that we feel is worth noting *

Maybe some of these riders and other USA riders do not realize is how much everyone else notices of them on the fields behind the line. Not just here in the foreign field but at home too. When they are in the ring and working together and getting along and trying to be team players and also when they are being difficult, arguing, or being know it alls.

For example – if you see a rider in the ring and they are not making eye contact with their trainer and teammates, putting their back to him or her when being talked to, hiding behind their pony, whispering and talking under their breath, etc, not only is that disrespectful to their trainer and teammates but it is also hurtful to their team and their over all play. It is also noticed by other people. And they don’t think “oh gee, that trainer must be awful” or “oh that poor rider must be misunderstood”, they think “that rider is rude!”

I certainly notice these things – Good and bad – of other riders and teams. And I can’t tell you how many people let me know exactly what they see when we leave the ring. I receive comments on each and every rider that’s in the ring with me and what their attitude *appears* to be by a slew of people. I hear comments about my riders actual riding, games play, and pony handling skills as well as the appearance of attitudes and coach-ability. If you wear a sourpuss face, everyone notices. If you wear a smile, everyone notices. And it not only reflects on YOU, it reflects on ME, on MGAA, and on the USA.

And it’s also notable that if you are on one of these trips, you are old enough to be responsible for your own actions and attitude. It’s not your ponies fault it’s not your trainers fault and it’s not your teammates fault if you look happy or sad or annoyed.

These are skills you can take with you for your whole life. The real world is not always perfect. And learning to make the best of things and put your best self forward and to take instruction are all extremely important skills that all adults need.

2018 UK Trip – Day 10

June 23, 2018

We started out our competition this morning with session one. We started off pretty well. Not wonderful but not bad. The first few races were a good test of the ponies and we got a feel for what we were going to be working with.

Now – let me just say before you click on any video link – if you do want to watch any video and you don’t plan to watch much, skip to session 2.

Your worst options are session 1 parts two and three. Really, just skip those. I am not sure I should even include them. But for the sake of full disclosure, record keeping, and I am not sure why, I did include them. But yeah, maybe skip over those.

Session 1 video part 1/3

Now let’s talk about session one in a bit more detail. We started out ok. Our speed weavers was not too bad. Sock wasn’t too bad and out hug a mug was passable. But our litter was a mess. We know that. But I am really happy with association. This race had a lot of disaster potential and it went pretty well.

Unfortunately it went down hill some from there.

session 1 video part 2/3

You might not want to watch the last two races. Our founders is not very pretty. Sadie had some navigating issues and Caroline took a tumble. She’s ok though.

I seriously suggest not watching the third part of session one. It’s only bank race and it’s just all bad. Us and another team got the whistle blown on us. Yeah, bad.

session 1 video part 3/3

recap – Session one started out ok but got bumpy, and then bumpier and then melted down. But we went into the ring not really knowing what to expect and we came out with a much better understanding and a game plan for session 2.

It is gorgeous out here today.

And we are parked right next to the ring!

And there are dogs to play with ring side while we watched Olivia play.

And now it’s time to tack back up for session 2. Grace is in for her session 2.

She is riding off lead this weekend! Go Grace!

Scores after session 1

video of session 2 – except for the first race / high low.

Session two was so much better. There were still some issues but all in all it was much better. The team was more relaxed and receptive. Their skills were cleaner and smoother.

I love this. Spectators view. Wine, dogs, sitting in the pony corral watching the games.

This pony looks a lot like DJ too.

And interestingly – this is our view from the camper slightly to the right. Slightly to the left is the ring! The gate to the ring is smack in front of us.

We swung by Gemma’s lorry to pick up a few goodies to take home for some friends. Very exciting.

Sian took this photo of Eliza on Wispa.

There was a little confusion when it came to picking out Chinese food. The menu is different from what they are used to.

Amy and I went to pick up the food, and we saw these trash cans. It reminded me of the bear proof trash cans near home. But in New Forest they have wild ponies instead of bears.

We picked up food for quite a few people.

It is now time for the (not so) silent disco. The team went and checked out head phones which seem to have a good range. They just checked back in at the camper (which is right by the ring, food stand, bathrooms and entertainment center) to show them to Emma and I. They have different stations and a light on the side changes color to show which station you are listening to. Really neat.

When I say not-so-silent I specifically mean that we are parked in the center of a very loud area with lots of singing and enthusiastic games people.

Of course I had to slip over and take a peek at the festivities and check out the fun for myself. I found the team with Amy, dancing and singing on the edge of the crowd, having a great time.

Now that I am looking at the photo I snapped of them I wonder if Eliza realizes that the backwards peace sign has an actual meaning over here? Something tells me she really did mean peace ✌️, she just had her hand backwards.

I have walked back to the camper to finish typing this and Cotton Eyed Joe must be playing on one of the stations at the moment. There must be 100 or more people singing it together. With a slew of heavy accents and headphones on everyone, let me just say, it sounds lovely. 😆

I think there are now 200 people singing along to the music with headphones on. That must mean it’s time to sign this blog off for day 10 and put my own headphones on.

2018 UK Trip – Day 9

June 22, 2018

Today we left Wales and headed to England for our competition!

Some drive time entertainment compliments of Sadie.

I also believe this was the 6th time they watched Girls Trip. I have not actually seen the movie but I think I know it word for word. It’s better than Fast and the Furious which they seem to like to watch while I drive. It makes me think I am being honked at or something is beeping or blowing up or crashing. Not the best movie for while driving.

The team went by Robinson’s Tack – not the one we usually go to, and picked up a few things. I think we prefer the one we usually go to but this one was nice too.

Then onto New Forest for Southern Champs.

While the team drove in the camper with Krista, Emma rode in the lorry with Mel, Andrew and the girls. She got in some much needed nap time.

We arrived and met up with Sian, Juliette and Maureen who are lending us Wispa. Eliza hopped on her and it was a good match. She is a lovely pony and the Lockyer clan has always been so kind at lending us ponies. Eliza and her look like a good match, and should play well together. Sian had all Wispa’s gear marked and prepared.

Next Steph tried the lovely Max the Upshall’s are lending us. Another wonderful match. He is a neat pony and our most experienced. A solid addition to the team.

I stupidly did not take any photos of the test rides.

I have not been to a competition at these grounds before but the first year I brought a team over Juliette brought us to these grounds for the New Forest Show, which to this day is one of my most memorable over seas experiences.

We said hello to some friends, lots of warm welcomes, we found our way around, and got settled in. We were also excited for showers, although there was only one.

Stupid story here – the team took turns, and I (Krista) went last. I was standing and waiting for the shower (which was sort of like a porta John) while Emma was in it and I stood behind it for a minute, just milling around and must have missed her leaving. So I waited for 40 minutes before I finally asked if everything was all right and realized she was gone. Feeling like an idiot, I jumped in (the briefing was soon) and started the shower up, got wet, soaped up, hands lathering my hair up into a nice soapy cone and the power went out, and so did the water. Boooooo. Worst shower ever. And by the time I got back my dinner was way cold and gross. So long much anticipated fish pie 😐 which later returned as indigestion.

Krista and Emma hit up the briefing and then we all sat down for a team chat and to discuss session one races and orders.

Olivia stopped by to say hello. It was so nice to see her. She rides in heat three in the morning and we are excited to watch her go! She also offered to help us out with ring crew. She is so kind and we are extremely grateful.

Then we passed around team gear (which created some silliness – duh)

These two are always silly.

(Caroline’s favorite photo I am sure)

And now we are all tucked in for an early rise tomorrow. We ride at 8:50 in our first session.

We realize this is a short post for today, but tomorrow will be longer. Today was all about moving in and getting settled here in the New Forest. Tomorrow is game on!

*Wish us luck! We are excited!*

-Fun information for today- we saw some of the wild New Forest ponies on the drive in. They wear reflective collars to help drivers see them. We are told that they round them up and sell the foals off a few times a year. We hear they go for a pretty low price, depending on their color. Sian mentioned that Wispa is a New Forest Arab cross pony. I also remember Sian’s sister’s old pony, Hattie was a New Forest pony. Maureen mentioned that they turn out a few stallions for a few weeks a year, and that they put out quality stallions to help maintain the breed, which has improved over more recent years.

UK Trip 2018 – Day 8

June 21, 2018

Today was a fun day.

The team stayed with Emma at Mel’s and went on a hack down the bridle path. There is one right at the end of the driveway.

Mel got this shot of them before they headed out.

Mel’s view of the crew riding out.

Emma took this photo on the ride.

Emma got this photo on the ride too.

They had a great time.

It was also an amazing weather day. Warm and sunny.

Amy came and picked me up and we spent the day playing around. First we went off on the quad looking for a lost sheep and lamb for Garrin. Which we found! Garrin came down to help collect them – which was neat to watch. I tried to get his whistling for it on video but I wasn’t quick enough.

Amy and I cruised around looking for the missing sheep and lamb.

We loaded up mom and baby and took them back to the field they belonged in and fixed the hole in the fence. Then Garrin noticed another sheep with an issue so he wrangled it and we took it back to the barn. It was quite an adventure and I am grateful to have been able to take part in it.

Garrin and I with the sheep and her lamb

Garrin with the lamb

Quad riding with sheep

Video of our quad ride and Garrin stalking down and scooping up the lamb.

Then Amy and I went on a ride down to the river. I got to ride her trusty pony Goose and she rode her new pony Malibu.

It was a really fun time.

We also got in our yearly selfie together. 😊

Just before Amy ran me back to Mel’s, Carys arrived from school and ran up and gave me the biggest hug. She drove with us to Mels and gave the team the same flying hugs. I was kicking myself for not getting it on video (mainly for Wendi).

On to tack cleaning and pony bathing.

Team work there.

Tilly is bathed and ready!

Loading hay nets and getting the lorry ready to go.

Some of the sleeping youngsters napping behind the stables.

Gunnar watching the haylage going into the nets.

And lots of time playing with dogs.

And then we had dinner compliments of Mel and Andrew who decided our oven takes way too long so made us food!

Gunnar does dishes.

He is the cutest

Building castles.

Trampoline with a pup

After dinner the team gave Grace and Lilli a little coaching session.

Video of practice:

Gunnar’s girth is a 16″ dressage girth.

and now it’s movie time.

interesting stuff for today – I learned some about Welsh sheep, which is the breed Garrin has. The sheep sometimes remove some of their own wool, which is what we were noticing on the sides of the road. The shepherds do shear them for the heat. He did some already and is doing the rest next week. He usually burns the wool since it is not worth the price of selling. They raise the sheep for meat not wool. Which is why the paint spray on some sheep to mark who they belong to or what not wouldn’t mess up the wool.

So the males go to meat. Generally they geld them just a few days after they are born to make them better for meat. Also they dock the female sheep’s tales but not the males. He said the females so they don’t get maggots (which I believe is why they do it in the USA) and then they don’t the males since most go to meat anyway but that they can look in a field and pick male from female quickly.

2018 UK Trip – Day 7

June 20, 2018

Hello Wednesday.

We woke up to a slew of messages from people trying to help us sort out a 5th pony. What a great community. We feel very embraced and supported and are extremely grateful for all the help and well wishes. Seriously, thank you guys.

And feeling loved by the games community, we were off to ride two ponies this morning (in the lovely Welsh rain). We got in a nice little practice, sorting out who fits which pony best and who fits them second best. Since we won’t be trying two of the ponies until Friday night at the competition we want to have options. From what I know of the ponies I think I have the two most suited riders in mind for them, but you never know who is going to match up with which pony the best. So options.

It was a good wet practice and by the end the 5th pony was sorted back out. Again, what a wonderful community we have in this sport. That’s a happy team right there.

And now we are about to head out to Pritchard’s Tack Shop. This is always an exciting part of the trip.

There are two tack shops we frequent on these trips and it seems one is always a hit and one is a miss and I can never tell which team will like which one. They are a good compliment to each other, one is big and fancy with newer stuff. The other is more of a maze where you have to dig around to find that diamond.

This year the big hit for Sadie and Caroline was the (free) mechanical horse.

Another quick Tesco run to prep for the weekend. Afterwards I took a mini break on WiFi to sort out why my phone was acting up. As soon as I connected it updated. Now it seems to be working fine. This was the actual reason for yesterday’s delayed blog posing (I think).

Back at Mel’s and the girls decided to wash the camper.

and then play with Tilly and Gunnar.

A little more pony riding and playing.

Grace let Eliza ride her show pony Scotty! Look at this little pony go. And only 5!

Video of Scotty

Then dinner time. Emma and I found these neat soups in Tesco. We are trying them out tonight with some Naan (they were great) And of course chicken fingers (by request) for the meat eating kids. Fenya passed on the soup and picked pizza.

The girls want their family and friends to know that Emma and I are feeding them well. They are only now resorting to eating styrofoam.

It is 10pm now, still light out and there is a screaming-running-around-craziness going on. Maybe they need to do laps up and down the driveway tomorrow?

Side note – amazing sunset.

The oven is tiny so it takes a lot of rounds to make dinner. Emma is cooking tonight.

And now for some card play. This involves slapping the table – and like most things, a lot of screaming.

Fun fact – Emma’s home town is the place Velvetta was invented. And the town was originally named Cheesecock, NY, now known as Monroe, NY. They do have a cheese festival every year.

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