Winter Practice – Almeda Farm – 11/10/19

November 14, 2019

We started our winter practices back up this past Sunday at Almeda Farm in Boyce, Virginia.

For our kick off of the winter season we had four of our regulars; Val, Carly, Jenny, and myself. Joined by sometimes participant Carol Ann.

Carol Ann brought her new pony Dash who is a complete natural and did not appear new to games at all. He is a handy little pony.

We rocked through some races and enjoyed the morning. Here’s looking forward to another winter of practices.


Gamblers Choice Fun Day – November 2019

November 13, 2019

Photo: K Brookes

The first weekend of November we had a Gamblers Choice one day fun day at the Woodstock Equestrian grounds in Maryland hosted by Stacey Calhoun. These are always way fun and make an excellent training day.

Photo: K Brookes

For the first session Kim W and I drew each other. I rode with Kim maybe 10+ years ago at a similar event and had a good time. This session was just as fun. She’s very laid back and easy going and was a joy to play with.

Photo: K Brookes

Possum is learning to move out more and was working hard and doing an excellent job all session.

Photo: K Brookes

We had a 30 minute break while leadline rode and I made a point of sitting on Possum in the back of the arena and having him stand and wait. This is a huge challenge for him and tends to spoil his mood. Since we do a lot of standing and chilling in games this is a skill he needs to learn. He started off good but started to get rather agitated towards the end. He tossed his head, pawed and started to cross his legs and do turn on the forehands.

Photo: K Brookes

We went right into session two from standing around which tested his lack of work ethic. He was a bit grumpy, as I expected, but he worked right out of it and was an excellent pony all session. This is a huge improvement for him.

For session two, Ashtyn and I drew each other. I was lucky enough to draw her at the last gamblers choice so I knew this would be another fun session. Ashtyn is a joy and we spent a lot of time laughing. We are also signed up to ride together at the first Popsicle pairs at the end of the month. Good times!

Photo: K Brookes

So I managed to have two excellent sessions and possum was an good pony. He is starting to move out and keep up with the pack. We are losing them on our end turn though. We have to get that right hand lead and balance to get that improved. Work work work. But he is turning into a rather nice games pony.

Photo: K Brookes

I also enjoyed both of my partners. They are both skilled and solid players so we got to work on handoffs (which were perfect all around) and general skills. What more could I ask for?

Photo G Arens

Pizza. Pizza is what I could ask for.

One of the nice things about these events is we fit in a social pizza lunch with time to chat and catch up. Side note, the veggie pizza is probably the best veggie pizza I have had. Amazing.

Photo G Arens

So a fun day with improvements with the pony. Yea.

Photo G Arens

Mid-Atlantic Pairs 3 – October 2019

November 3, 2019

Two weeks ago we had the third and final leg of the Mid-Atlantic Pairs Series. It was held at Diamond 7 Arena in Dillsburg, PA. Leigh Anne and I organized it together and added in a super fun Halloween theme and an end of the year pot luck party Saturday night.

Friday night we set the arena without Carl. We had some excellent teamwork getting it done. Fred was the leader with Leigh Anne and Matt assisting with measuring and lines. A few of us others helped as well, including Jaise and Lidia. Without the help it would not have gotten done. We did a pretty good job but Carl did have to fix the C line Sunday morning.

The costumes were awesome. We had a lot of riders in onsies, some super people, tutus, a roaring pink unicorn, Leigh Anne and I glittered our ponies, and the Campbells painted some of our ponies hooves as pumpkins. The big winners were Jenny as Evil Knievil and Carl and Fred as photoed above as Step brothers.

For this event we also decided to give some new up and coming refs a chance to try their hand at the job. Everyone that took a session did a fantastic job.

(Photo above: Genevieve Arens Photography)

This was Leigh Anne and my second time doing pairs together. As previously she is so fun to ride with. We had a really good time. And she was awesome to organize with too. So a weekend of doing it all as a pair.

Saturday nights pot luck party was a lot of fun. Amazing food as expected and lots of costumes. Leigh Anne and I pulled on our dragon onsies for this one.

We awarded the end of the year “bragging rights” awards that were hosted on the Facebook page by member Eliza. And we awarded everyone who dressed up for riding prizes.

Lastly I was honored with a surprise thank you for my years of service to MGAA. I am leaving office at the end of the year, after 13 collective years on the board since MGAA’s inception, 9 as president. I was so honored and remain so grateful. I was gifted a giant mum and a basket (feed bin) of gifts including a gorgeous leather halter with engraved plate. I love it.

Sunday brought rain. Yea. Really it was not that bad, the weather remained excellent, and the rain was mostly light. Everyone managed to ride and we completed the day safely and happily.

(Photo above: Genevieve Arens Photography)

(Above photo: Genevieve Arens Photography)

(Photo above: Genevieve Arens Photography)

(two photos above: Genevieve Arens Photography)

(Photo above: Genevieve Arens Photography)

(Photo above: Genevieve Arens Photography)

(Two photos above: Genevieve Arens Photography)

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!

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