Mid-Atlantic #6 – September 2019

October 10, 2019

This was possibly my favorite competition this year. Good weather, lots of fun with friends, and Possum was good!

I have been saying that I just haven’t figured him out yet. And I think I got some stuff figured out. Yea!

I had a few bumps and a few pretty poor races. But I left feeling good.

Val and Carly stretching Sunday morning.

Mid-Atlantic #5, September 2019

September 23, 2019

For this event we were at a new venue for us; Morvin Park in Leesburg, Virginia. They recently put in some new arenas big enough for us to run a full set of lanes. We used the arena out in by the barns. It is lovely with the lush felt footing and very well maintained. In contrast to the immaculate new rings, the barns are old and out dated and not as well set up as we are used to. Mainly there is no way to drive up to them for loading and unloading. And the lower barns do not have an overhang to protect equipment, but they are located right by the arena and parking and we were lucky and it didn’t rain.

I had high hopes for Possum going into MA5. He was superb at MA4 and three weeks later at the one day pairs. I thought we were past the pony-challenges. But he regressed and spent most of session one trying to buck. I felt like a little kid trying to pull his head up and boot him on. It was very frustrating and somewhat discouraging.

He was much better in session two and was just reserved in speed but no attempts to buck. He did get unstraight a few times in both of the first two sessions. It’s something he is very inconsistent at and that we have been working on at home. This is improving, just slowly.

He was a good boy Sunday for the final session of 15 races. He was moving out some and was straight almost the whole session.

I have not found anything to cause his mood changes. His tack is fine, and I’m taking care to note if anything changes when it comes to gear. I’m also attempting to be consistent in my riding. The only thing I am not excellent at is keeping my vocals consistent. He is a very vocal pony. More than anything I’ve ridden before. Yelling to him seems to get him moving more than kicking or using my seat by a long shot.

His attitude also doesn’t seem angry or unhappy. He has been eager to go out and seems to really enjoy playing. He is an easily bored pony and I think he enjoys the mental stimulation of games. He also seems to be comfortable physically and not in any pain or discomfort. So I don’t feel he is reacting to an outside stimulus.

At this point I’m in the mindset that he is “pulling pony stunts”. He doesn’t seem to have led a very hard life up to this point and has spent more than his share of time as a privileged pasture puff. He has also tried lots of other “get out of work” stunts for riding, general ground handling, being tied, trailer loading, and the farrier. We have cleared most of these stunts up, although he still needs some ground manners. So progress.

It was a good competition. The team was on and having fun. It was one of the most fun competitions of the year. We finished a strong and tight fourth.

Riptide, the intermediate team I coach was also enjoying a fun weekend with lots of smiles. They are a really fun team to work with that I am super proud of.

Some old games friends also made a return as “Nostalgia”. They have been on a hiatus from games, and most of them from horses altogether, for a solid 10-15 years. They’ve put in some lead up work and they looked great out there and they were tons of fun to play against.

I also got to see Zoe! She’s been out this season and is preparing to move to California so I haven’t seen much of her lately. It was a nice catch up with her and her sister Colie!

Good times!

Video of Session 3 part 1/2

Video of session 3 part 2/2

We were graced with this video taken during session 3 by Carly’s fabulous mom!

A Nostalgic Games Practice / August 31, 2019

September 2, 2019

Sunday was back to Woodstock Equestrian in Darnestown, MD for a games practice. This time we were joined by the Nostalgia games team. This team is made up of some older games players that have been away from the sport, and for some, away from horses, for a over a decade (15 years even!). They have joined forces to make a come back at the Mid-Atlantic #5 competition being held in two weeks in Leesburg, VA. The riders have been taking part in practices for the past few months, honing their skills and getting their riding muscles back while learning some of the new races and getting acquainted with the new equipment.

We had a nice group of eleven for this practice and managed to run roughly two to three games at a time rotating through a nice list of games in two hours.

For my own ride I really focused on riding and not getting caught up chatting too much. This is a weakness for me since games practices tend to also be my social time and I am very social. Possum had three weeks off while I was away, he did the one day Pairs right when I got back and a few hacks out at home through the week but he has lost some of his stamina. We went hard for the first hour, moving from lane to lane quickly and he was starting to get tired. I slowed the pace and gave him some rest breaks between races after that but by the two hour mark he was done and was sure to let me know.

I did take note that he did a good job going straight for the first portion of practice but as he started to get tired he was less straight and tended to fall in on myself, and at times felt disconnected from front to back. I feel like this is progress since he used to not be straight the whole time.

This is also the first games practice where I was truly focused on technique with him and not just basic games patterns, staying straight and close but not too close to equipment. Progress! It was a big step up milestone in his training. I worked on harder S turns and cut ins and moving out more for placements and picks since I was gaining a good games check vs just a whoa or an unpredictable amount of check. I also worked on my check and whoa-stand timing and felt I was much closer to where I want to be. I am particularly happy with our association and four flag.

I also put a little work into three mug and did balloon, which he is still shying from on his first real pass. He is fine with balloon at home, and away from home he is fine walking past it and the noise, but he still says on his first moving pass. There is progress with it but it’s still a project. I assume one day I’ll go to do balloon in a practice with him and he won’t shy and it will be a surprise to me. “He got it!”

It was a really fun practice and well worth the drive and effort. I met up with my parents for dinner before driving back home and had a lovely time with them. This made the trip a bit more worth while since a Woodstock practice tends to be a full day event for me with a good solid 5 hours of driving round trip.

Two weeks until MA5! Bring it!

Gambler’s Choice Pairs Fun Day – 8/24/19 – Woodstock Equestrian Center

August 26, 2019

One of our games friends has been off for military schooling for the past year at the Citadel in South Carolina. He is home briefly and to give him the chance to see his games friends and take his pony for a spin Stacey set up a one day gamblers choice pairs. Sadly on Friday Coltin was diagnosed with a couple stress fractures and could not ride. That’s a hard break.

The rest of us still had a fun day catching up with him and riding our ponies. We had two heats of O24 pairs, including myself. I was paired with Rachel – making a games come back after a several year hiatus – and in the second session I was paired with Ashtyn.

I was freshly home from the 2019 MGAA International Trip and has not been on my pony since MA4, for three full weeks. If I had been on my old pony Poe or even trusty Simon I would have known what to expect. But this is the first time since I purchased Possum he has gone without riding for anywhere near that long so I went in with nervous expectations. But I am happy to say I was very pleasantly surprised. He was fantastic. He retained all of his games training and the new calm he exhibited at MA4! He even moved out!

He even made the trip as the only pony and stood tied to the trailer for several long periods of time all on his own. This was something else he needed work on so I am very pleased I was able to give him this challenge and that he did so well at it.

The O25 riders

Now I really need to focus on the flat work to get balance and flexibility to the right and work on him carrying himself straight.

Paxton and Dexter built a volcano. She’s standing in the lava there like a champ. They were digging all day. Dexter said he would dig me a hot tub for $40 and 99cents and a pool for $100 and 99cents. Plus meals. Sounds like a deal to me!

It was a really fun day. I hope we can do some more in the future. It’s such a good opportunity to work on skills and just have fun.

Here is a very brief clip of O25. I just love the cheering and the ohhhs, and ahhhs.

The open riders

Mid-Atlantic #4 – August 2019

August 6, 2019

MA4 was at a new location, the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, NJ. It was a long and slightly frustrating drive for me, and tolls tolls tolls. But the grounds are very nice and I like the stall and barn design.

Since none of the arenas were big enough to run more than 5 lanes we were set up in a field on the cross country course. We couldn’t drive there so it was a time consuming walk, and since the PA was not able to work with the facility PA there was a gap in broadcast communications but it all worked out just fine and the grounds was super nice. Plus I love riding on grass.

The camping was very compact but this made it possible to visit with a lot of people and get to socialize with friends we don’t always get to socialize with.

This is the first competition in years that I have not been bustingly excited about. I think part of it was that new venues always make me apprehensive. But I have also been lacking confidence riding Possum and having some mild frustration about his slow progress. I have also been super busy wrapping up nationals and preparing for internationals and not able to really ride as much as I like so I felt out of sorts. Stupidly I have been letting myself stew in this lack of confidence. Lame I know.

Carly’s usual pony, Remy was at home with a brewing abscess so she was on Tommy’s pony Charlie. She rides Charlie but he is bigger than her usual Remy, and just not her normal ride. She rode him beautifully though and even hopped on Possum for a few races.

Friday we got in a nice little ride and a little hang out time with friends. And Saturday we were up nice and early and ready for our 9am session.

The session felt good. We all rode quite well and had a good time. We left sitting in fourth.

Next I coached Riptide in intermediate and then we worked the Open session. I was so hot after that and camp was in full sun at that time of day. It took quite a while for me to cool down and I suspect I was a bit heat strokey.

Because of this I opted to sit out an extra race in the second session and I sat in the shade while Riptide rode their second session.

Our second session was a little stronger than our first session. We finished again in fourth and with smiles on our faces.

Saturday night was a good opportunity to spend time with friends. We had a social dinner with the Campbells and then visited around with other groups of friends, chatting and laughing.

Sunday we were up and ready for the session three final which ran at 830.

It was our team’s best session of the weekend. We all rode mostly clean and quick. It was a lot of fun and we had good enthusiasm. We ended tied for third. The tie breaker was flag fliers, which we had just played and won, but even with a clean and quick run Infinity had a little leg on us and took the yellow leaving us in the fourth place we had held all competition.

Our sometimes teammate Tommy, who also happens to by Carly’s boyfriend, came and coached us. It was really nice to have him in the ring with us. And we can hear his voice when we are on the field too!

Possum was awesome. He had a few little oddness moments but was mostly excellent and in the third session I felt like I was riding a real games pony. He’s certainly stepping into his new role and starting to fill those shoes. He was moving out more and was still giving me Whoa and Stand like a pro. His turns are not horrible although still have to be ridden and need some more tidying up and speed added, but all in all he was fantastic. I think I’ll add a bit more speed at MA5. He is ready.

My whole team was fantastic and rode really well. I felt like we were united and having fun together.

Also exciting, friend Rebekah made her games come back on Simon in Novice on team Wait! what? And she did awesome. Her lovely boyfriend John caught some video which I have included a link to at the end of this post.

She rode really well and I think she made a fantastic come back. Simon really seemed to enjoy her too.

The playing field has a swarm of dragon flies on it. Nothing to get in the way or cause a problem, it was more surreal and magical if anything. Like little bombers hovering around. You can see some in the photo below.

I am pumped back up and can’t wait for MA5 now. Wooo! But first, there is a trip to England and Wales to experience.

Video of Rebekah and Simon

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