Games Training Possum

February 15, 2019

There is not that much exciting going on right now. I am training Possum to be an excellent games pony. But I am not really managing explorative trail rides, games competitions, equestrian travels, or JPRs.

Spring is coming.

At practice last weekend Possum was not keen on balloon and it’s going to take some work. When we got home I put the balloon board out next to the hay shelter for the night. I don’t expect this to instantly change his mind about balloons. It’s a different environment. I think it’s going to take a few good sessions of training at home. But I like the reinforcement after a training session.

One of the other things I need to work on with Possum is his right hand. He is horribly unbalanced to the right and it is ridiculous to get him to pick up his right

In my training session on Thursday I started out lunging Possum. I started to the right, then the left, and ended on the right. He was very stiff to the right, noticeably more so than to the left. I plan to try and do this more at home when training. His games training with tight turns to the right should also help strengthen him in that direction as well.

After lunging I attempted some hill work, which Possum very much needs. It was quite slippery and I was ripping up the ground so I cut that short and finished with a hack around the farm. Possum really enjoyed himself.

I have also been working on Possum standing quietly tied. Most days when I trailer him and always when I ride him I make a point to leave him tied while I do some verbal barn type of work. Today he was noticeably more relaxed than usual.

I think these are three good things to be working on with Possum. Balloon, his right side and patience when tied. It was too slippery to properly work on balloon and I also didn’t want to rip up that part of my riding field. Lunging in it was bad enough.

Training continues.

Three solid rides in a row!

February 11, 2019

About time I was able to get in three days of riding back to back. This winter has just been killing my rides. Even with indoors twice a week I sadly am not getting in nearly enough rides.

Friday evening I took Possum and met Jenny with her new pony for his first ride at Willow Spring’s indoor in Edinburg.

Possum was super pleased to be riding. He’s always in a good mood and willing to ride but Friday he was sort of excited about it. I spent a little time working on his right side. He is very unbalanced in that direction and he has difficulty picking up and maintaining his right lead. This will be a major priority as I am able to get in some flat work at home.

Saturday morning I took Simon on an early trail ride starting out from Massanutten Visitor Center. We took the Wildflower trail down to the closed picnic area and then out the back along the fire road, orange to pink blaze.

Simon is the most out of shape he has been since I have owned him. We went out about 2- 2 1/2 miles or so and turned around where the trail was blocked by downed trees and returned the 2 – 2 1/2 miles. The down trees were on the trail along the side of the mountain and I was unable to move any of it enough to get through. The trail has been recently cleared for the first half but I suppose no one has made it that far out to do clearing. But it was very pleasant. And a light easy ride for Simon to start getting better conditioned on.

Sunday Possum and I were off to Almeda Farm’s indoor for another winter games practice. We had a particularly good turn out for this session, especially considering how cold it was. The usuals, Val, Carly, Jenny, and myself were there and we were joined by Linda, Karen, and another new friend.

Jenny’s new pony was a real super star. He took right to the job. Everyone else was their usual awesome selves. Possum was amazing. I think some things came together for him at the Popsicle Pairs. He seemed to connect what we had been practicing to the actual format of games. And again, like Friday, he was really happy about riding and was really enjoying himself.

It is staying light out till close to 6pm now. So maybe I can manage in a few more rides at home if the weather cooperates.

Winter Games Practice with the Possum

January 29, 2018

We had a two week break from group practices (one week due to weather) in which I schooled at a more local indoor. The footing is still too rough to ride at home. Last week it was all ice, then mud and now we are expecting more rain and snow.

I also managed to get the trailer pretty stuck on the ice which turned to mud. A week later I managed to get the trailer out but then got the truck totally stuck. It was sheer joy and lots of mud. (Note sarcasm)

This past Sunday we returned to our schedule of Sunday group practices. We had a good crew, Val, Carly, Jenny on a trial pony and Jessie dropped in for a quick spin too.

Jenny’s trial pony took to games like he’s always been playing, game face on and ready to roll. Being a former high school rodeo pony I am sure this was right in line for him. He was a bit too tall for Jenny, but would make a nice rocket ūüöÄ for someone taller. He sort of reminded me of Genevieve’s appy Rubin but in a Hildogo color.

Val rode the pony she has in for training and that little mare looked great. Val has done a great job with her.

My little Possum was a complete joy to ride and I am so pleased with his progress. This week I put some work into leading away from the sick/tool/hoopla pile and around the mounting block. This was a two stepper. One was to lead away which he was a bit confused about. Per Jenny’s advice I carried a crop and gave him a little tap tap which seemed to help click the skill into place for him. Then there is the part where he needs to auto go around the block while I run up it, then stop and stand for a mount before moving off. He wanted me to lead him around and wasn’t flowing in his own. But by the end of practice he seemed to get that. Huge improvement from the pony who wouldn’t go to the mounting block a month ago.

I am also feeling. Super good about my leans in stuff like hi low and hoopla. Giving myself a pat on the back here.

Next Sunday is the Popsicle Pairs so let’s hope the weather holds out so we can get Possum to his first mini competition.

A little video montage.

Popsicle Pairs 1 – Upper Marlboro, MD

February 6, 2019

This past weekend I took Possum to his first games competition.  It was a one day laid back competition at the PG Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland in their covered arena.  I rode him in the Green/Novice division paired with Val on Izzy.

It was a really fun day with a great group of people.  Other than Green/Novice there was also a heat of “mixed” division players which pretty much encompassed everyone else; Intermediate, Open, and Over25.  It was a lot of fun and the laid back atmosphere was perfect for the off season.

Possum started out our first session very nervous.  Shaking and screaming.  I joked that he was like driving a car around with the alarm going off.  Leigh Anne stood with him behind the line for the first few races, which immensely helped him relax.  I am happy to report that even during his nervousness he still listened to me the entire ride.  By the end of session one he had settled down and was standing mostly quiet when waiting for his turn.

Session two started out with him nervous, although not as nervous as session one.  He started to escalate before we got started and Jeri jumped in and led him around a bit.  Again this really settled him down.  He was very responsive throughout the session and listened to me, moving off my leg and standing during a race when asked.  This round he settled down and stood behind the line nicely much more quickly.

It is hard to replicate the competition atmosphere and that was the one thing I was unsure of with him.  It is a lot going on, and a lot of ponies zooming around.  Particularly so for a pony that has generally done mostly trails his whole life.  But I am sure he will take this in stride and adjust quickly like he has with everything else.

Throughout the day he did have a few moments where he swerved around after a hand off and bowed away from a barrel here and there.  The balloons he didn’t notice until the last second and did a small jump away while I was popping, but still carried on.  Nothing extreme or detrimental, and I am sure with some more skill work and his ability to relax he will over come these minor infractions quickly.  All in all I am very pleased with him and his progress.  He was an awesome Possum!

With the start of the season fast approaching, and me wanting to get him as much experience as possible, I made some arrangements for the second Popsicle Pairs since I am unable to attend myself.  Friend Jenny is going to keep Possum for the week and take him to the event for me.  Friend and teammate Jon is going to ride him in the event.  Jon has such a quiet seat, and is a very strong rider and games player.  It is also helpful that Jon is rather insightful and notes things that are often missed.  I am very much looking forward to his report and suggestions of what I can work on.

A third event is also being planned for a larger outdoor arena in March.  You know Possum and I will be there ready to get him the experience he needs.

Video of Possum:

Green/Novice division video montage:

Mixed division video montage:

photos: Gina video: Kennedy

Winter Practice – Almeda Farm. VA – 1/6/19

Jan 7, 2018

We had another good practice yesterday.  Val, Jenny, Carol Ann, Jon and I cruised through quite a few races.

For me personally it was all about the lean.¬† I was leaning all over the place and kicking butt at it.¬† We did hi low, hoopla,¬†and bank race pick up,¬†all major leaning successes.¬† Possum was doing the newbie, face the obstacle vs standing along side it somewhat, but we worked it out.¬† I also worked on inside 4 flag turns and had a great reach for the flag.¬† I am also happy with my mounts in toolbox and hoopla.¬† It was not as speedy as I would have liked but it was much improved over the last practice where Possum backed up when I went to mount.¬† He was turning his head to the right and then turning to the right, which at first I thought was do to me holding the rein too tight, but when I mounted without holding the rein he still did it.¬† That’s something that will need a little work.

Possum is really getting into this games pony role and really enjoying himself.  I think he likes using his brain and doing lots of different things.  He certainly wants to please and is trying to do a good job.  I am very happy with him and excited to keep working on this project.  Project Possum.

Val pointed out he is opening his mouth when I put pressure on the reins.  I had not noticed this so I am glad she pointed it out.  He is stopping and turning as I ask and not sticking his head up, so it was not as obvious.  Ill try adding a nose band, and a flash if needed and see what happens.  I am also not sure if I have the best bit for him.  I think its at least close and I am not sure what change up would be an improvement.  He is currently in a happy mouth D with a bead in the middle like a French link.

Here is a short video clip of just Possum at practice yesterday.

Here is a longer video of everyone at practice yesterday.

 

 

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