Final 2018/2019 Winter Practice.

April 4, 2019

This past Sunday was the last scheduled winter practice at Almeda Farm in Boyce, VA. We are sure to return in the fall or if the summer drowns is in rain like last summer.

This practice was small and laid back. I was on Simon since he left Possum’s back compromised with a bite in the saddle area. Val was on training project Izzy. And Jenny was on Hacksaw, and testing out a new tack combination.

It’s been a good winter with lots of practices and plenty of participation by different riders and ponies.

Now it is time for the season to step up!

Thanks Almeda, we look forward to coming back!

Sizzlin Spring Pairs Fun Day – March 30, 2019

April 1, 2019

Saturday Stacey hosted an unscored Pairs fun day at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Ranson, WV. It was just for fun and very laid back which was great for a solid competition setting practice. I was very much looking forward to one more competition style practice with my new pony Possum before the season opener in two weeks and I was very excited to ride with my usual Gone Rogue teammate Jon.

I woke up Saturday morning and when I pulled Possum out of the field I noticed he had a bite mark on his forehead and then I noticed a bigger one on his back. The skin was peeled up and it was right in the middle of the saddle area. I felt around it and he ducked uncomfortably away and there was some heat. From there it took me about fifteen minutes to decided a course of action. I put Possum in the trailer, I took Possum out. I grabbed Simon and put him in the trailer, then I decided to unload all the games equipment and put Possum in the trailer too. With both ponies in the trailer, I stood next to it hemming. So I checked my messages. Luckily Val had responded to my earlier message telling her what I found followed by “should I bring Simon or Possum or both?” And she suggested I just bring Simon. Thank you! I needed that. So I took Possum back out of the trailer and put him back out in the field and headed out with just Simon.

I love Simon but I prefer to not compete in games on him. He has absolutely no competitive drive whatsoever. He enjoys playing games slowly, generally with someone still getting their games skills down or learning to ride. He thrives in that situation. But when asked to be competitive he is a pain.

This Saturday was no exception. He started off like a wild man, giving little rears and leaps at the whistle, looking fierce, then loping off slowly shaking his head. He had a lot of up down movement and I felt like a shook up soda bottle. I spent a lot of time kicking, I seemed to flap my arm a lot (not sure how I think that gives him momentum) and yelling at him to go. Sometimes he went slowly. Sometimes he went even slower. Sometimes he didn’t want to break out of the trot, and a few times he moved out a little.

All in all Simon is exhausting to ride.

video of Jon and I:

For myself I did ok. Not my best but not bad either. Some of it was purely Simon. In ball and cone I put the ball down, then he stepped into the cone, I managed to save the ball back off of the cone but then he took the cone out. In bending he smashed into a pole. Just completely ignoring me. But I was the one who popped three balloons instead of two (which was a race he was actually moving out – Simon’s moving out – for). And in founders race I picked up the wrong letter (we were spelling ICK and stupidly I didn’t preplan what I was getting). It was a complete dyslexic moment for me. I was sure I needed the I but heard Linda in the lane next to me yelling “wait which letter” and I had to really think it through before I realized I needed to switch to the C.

Jon was awesome to ride with as he always is. He is so laid back and at the same time encouraging. For races like hula, I knew he wouldn’t let go of Simon until I was on, which worked well and was a race we did super well in. He also has this crazy stirrup up. I am amazed every stinking time he does it. He is also insightful. When I again told him how amazing his stirrup up is he said that it’s the hesitation that puts you in jeopardy. So when you go to get on, have a second of “ah my pony is moving” that second is what looses your timing. Such a good point. We did not miss any hand offs and had a good time riding together.

I wish I had been on Possum but it was still a really fun day.

Gone Rogue Team Practice

March 26, 2019

We had a team practice this past Sunday. All five of us.

I’m just going to say, bring on the season!

Popsicle Pairs 3 – 2019

March 19, 2019

This weekend was the third and final Popsicle Pairs for the year.  The first one was Possums first time out and as I said at the time, he was like driving a car around with the alarm going off, loud and anxious.  I was not able to make the second PP but Jenny was amazing enough to host Possum for the week and get him there and teammate Jon was awesome and rode him.  I was told he was much improved.

Myself and Matt chatting between races.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

The first two were held in the covered arena at PG Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.  The third was at the large outdoor arena at Woodstock Equestrian Center in Darnestown, MD.  This venue would be amazing if it put in stalls and more parking.  It is something like 600 acres of trails with a cross country schooling area, and the large arena has jumps and a dressage ring that can be set up.  This is the same location that Val hosted my 40th Birthday Games Competition at.

Leigh Anne had her first go at being a ref and did a great job.  She also, rode, ring crewed and scored!

The day started off quiet chilly, but it was very sunny and when the wind died down it was sort of warm during the apex of the day.  Val was organizing, and she broke us down into four heats.  Novice/Green pony and three heats of “Mixed” which was a combination of Intermediate, Open and O25 riders.  I paired up with Fred and we were in Mix 3 for the day.

Hug a Mug – Possum and I rolling along. (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Possum was a bit anxious when we started out, but after the first few races he settled down.  Other than the first PP, this was the first time I have been in a location with enough space to let him really run with some speed and he really enjoyed it.  He kept checking in during the sprints in session one, “you sure I can keep running?”  He didn’t so much bow away from equipment like he has been doing with some stuff at practice as he would sort of scoot a little at the last moment.  Nothing bad and I didn’t miss anything, but just enough of a scoot that my bottle would end up on the edge of the barrel and not the center, or when I placed the toolbox down he scooted just a smidge and I drug it sideways just a bit.  All in all a big improvement.

Val organized, rode and ring crewed, all with a big ol smile on her face. 

For session two he entered the ring quietly, and he seemed to have one of those clicks where he put some of it together.  Run, stop, turn, run, check, turn, run, stop, etc.  He really seemed to genuinely enjoy playing, and was very happy to work.  This pony has such a good attitude.  He did not scoot or bow at anything in the second session except the dreaded balloons.  I did pop them but it involved circling the board and reaching very far while he faced them head on.  except for balloon, I am so proud of Possum!

Elise on Possum in Hug a Mug looking way more like a badass than I did in the same race on the same pony.  (Photo: Genevieve Arena)

After I hopped off from my second session, Elise hopped on and rode him in the final session of the day.  I figured an additional session would be good for him and it would also be good for me to see someone else riding him.  And it was! Elise did a fantastic job with him and made him look amazing.  she pushed him through his turns and he was quick and responsive.  It was certainly a boost for me to see what she could do with him.

Caroline attempting to pop Sadie’s temporary butt implant (a balloon).

As for the rest of Gone Rogue, Val and Jon were in mix 1 and looked amazing.  They won both of their heats against some top Open players.  Babyface has really come into his own.  He was lama-rocketing around with precision and skill like the truly made games pony he is quickly becoming.  Val whipped her skills out at top speed, and together they looked amazing.  Jon was also amazing.  That guy has some skill that just won’t quiet.  I think some of it is from starting games at such a young age, he just has the muscle memory to be amazing, because he always has been amazing.  Jeeter was also right up there running like a pro. These two and their ponies did the team proud.

Val rocking through Hug a Mug (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Matt rode in the same Mix as Fred and I.  Matt has only been back in the saddle for about two weeks after his very long injury recovery.  I did not get to see much of his ride, but what I did see looked great.  He wasn’t pushing too much and was getting himself and his pony back in stride.  Him and Hero make a really nice pair.

Sadie showing off her temporary butt implant (a balloon down the pants).

Carly was in the second mix with Leigh Anne and they looked like they were having a great time.  Remy is another pony that is really coming into his game and stepping up this year.  Carly had done a fantastic job bringing him along and making him what he is.  And Carly too.  For coming to games so recently, the pair of them have really improved quickly.  Carly did have a small silly tumble at the end which I did not see but I hear it is on video.  She was unhurt and laughed it off.

Caroline preparing for a sock dunk (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

In sum it was an awesome day.

Jenny worked her butt off doing ring crew when she wasn’t riding.

Carly rolling through Hug a Mug (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Sadie and Caroline being too silly.  They entertained me all day long. 

Possum and I in either two flag or 3 pot flag.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Jenny on her new pony Hacksaw.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Teammate for the weekend, Fred (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

Sadie killing it in 3 pot. (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

I love when photos are synced up like this.  Aidan and Nike and Val and Babyface in Balloon.  (Photo: Genevieve Arens)

2019 Horse World Expo

March 13, 2019

MGAA returned to the Horse World Expo which was held the first weekend in March at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. The Horse World Expo is a 4 day event that features two (heated) indoor arenas, stadium style, with a massive convention hall attached that is full of vendors and booths. There is also a round pen where instructional demos are done and two class rooms set up for informative lectures. The expo touts itself as the largest equine expo in the USA.

This year MGAA had a booth and performed a demo from 4-5pm on Saturday in the Equine Arena.

The demo was for a full house, standing room limited.  We brought in four teams well mixed of all levels, ages and experience players.  We had little Dexter on Leadline popping into different teams as a 5th rider to take part, always to a loudly cheering crowd.  He held the spotlight for sure.  We had some of our new Intermediate, just moved from Novice teenage players, we had some solid experienced Intermediate teens, a few of our Open level experienced players, and of course a strong representation from our O25 adult riders.

I feel strongly that showcasing all of the diversity in games is key in these demo settings.  People continuously said “I didn’t know adults could do this!” or “This is for all ages?”  One lady told us later in the booth that she thought everyone out there was a kid until the end when we rode around the edges saying hello and handing out pamphlets.  It also shows that not everyone is vaulting on and off with a high leg at a gallop.  That yep, your kid can be on leadline, some people just trot, everyone makes mistakes, mom and dad can do it too, gaited ponies, we had one of those out there as well.  I think having some slower riders also makes it easier for the crowd to see what is actually going on.  So while one rider trots through two flag, the crowd can digest the pattern, and then the Open rider in the next lane flies through at a gallop, the crowd can appreciate what they just did so quickly.  Having the teams mixed also made it possible for them to finish up about the same time as each other.  We didn’t keep score, but it kept things evenly matched and rolling nicely.

Team Gone Rogue was in full effect, with four of us riding, and Matt, just back to riding two days early after his long injury recovery standing in as referee.  Carly and I were on the Navy team together, me on new-to-games Possum, and Carly on Diane’s new-to-games pony Blinkin.  Both ponies were a little anxious, as were many of the experienced ponies, but they both did fantastic.  The crowd was loud, and it was a whole new atmosphere for them.  We both kept them slow and mostly trotted, with a few canters thrown in.

(I think I see Kelly and Linda – in pink – in the first row back there behind Lauren and Dusty.)

In retrospect I wish I had pushed Possum out a bit more, I think he could have handled it.  But at the time I just wanted him to have a positive experience where he took in all of the atmosphere and left feeling solid about that.  For myself I was very focused on him and not so much on my skills.  I didn’t make mistakes, but I was not as refined as usual.  For example, I pulled my flag weird, cleanly, but weird.  I had kept both hands on the reins and my seat well planted until the last moment, where I leaned less than usual and just whipped my hand out at the last moment to grab the flag.  This seemed to be my manner for the competition, butt in seat, legs engaged, two hands on the reins, until the last moment, minimal lean.  That of course is not going to be necessary as Possum adjusts more, and we do not normally ride to such a crowd.  Carly rode Blinkin like a pro.  She is a good rider and her ability to jump on and go really showed.  She knocked a pole in the first race but flipped it up mounted.  #skills

(Yep, I am sure that’s Kelly and Linda all the way to the right in the first row.)

Val and Jon were both on the yellow team and they were flying.  Babyface looked great and not at all nervous.  Val said he was really on and listened and performed like a pro.  I really did not get to see much of her playing but what I did see looked great.  I also didn’t get to see much of Jon, but I caught his 4th rider flag pull in flag fliers and it was perfect.  very Open rider solid at a solid gallop.  Jeeter finished soaked in sweat.  I expected both of them to ride like the long time professionals they are.

All of the riders did great.  Our Navy team, which also included Caroline, Fenya, and Maggie, was so fun to ride with.  Caroline had a last minute pony swap when her usual pony was not getting on the trailer that morning.  She grabbed her mom’s pony Nemo and rode him like a champ.  She started most of the races and did so strongly with a smile.  Fenya, as expected, was just lovely.  When asked where she wanted to go “where ever”, just completely easy to work with.  Her pony was also a bit wound up and she did a great job keeping her moving and playing her game like nothing was out of the ordinary.  This was my first experience with Maggie on the field and she is a lovely person and was really fun to play with.  She pulled anchor for us in most races and did so smoothly.  Her pony is a strong quick thing and she rode her excellently and made her look easy.  This was a lovely team and it was fun to get to know each rider better.

The booth was also super busy all weekend but especially after the demo with people getting information after seeing how fun it looked.  Jenny and I closed up the booth for the night on Saturday.  As always I really enjoyed talking about games, and could do so endlessly.  We were busy right up until close handing out pamphlets and answering questions.

Our VP Fred arranged everything.  It was a tall order and included setting up the booth, making sure it was manned, arranging riders, and filling in last minute gaps for sick or injured people.  He did an amazing job.  Our booth looked great and the demo was well received.  Definitely a score for mounted games!

A new friend in the crowd caught mug shuffle!

When we first went into the ring while it was being set, everyone rode around the edges letting their ponies see everything while smiling, making eye contact, and waving to the crowd.

Jon finishing up balloon race.

Dexter was the crow favorite and I believe he ate up every minute of it.

Leigh Anne with a solid stack spelling GAMES.

A friend in the crowd caught this.  Its Possum going slowly in flag fliers.  You can see how delicate I was with him.

Caroline and Maggie in tire race

Eliza probably had the hardest job of everyone.  She was injured the weekend before and was unable to ride, so she volunteered to lead Cheddar.  That pony loves his boy, but he is a little beast for adults, a true pony.

A friend in the crowd caught this litter race.

The booth in all its fineness, youtube games play list running and equipment on display.

Jenny and I

Possum getting ready to ride.


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