STRHA Judged Trail Ride

May 12,  2017 

This past weekend was the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horsemans Association (STRHA) Judged Trail Ride – part of the Crystal Crown series.  I am a member of this club and was happy to support the JTR. But sadly, my usual JPR, JTR crew were all busy so I signed up and headed out alone.  

This turned out to be better than ok as the pair in front of me asked if I wanted to join their drafty duo.  I feel like the three of us got along really well and I had a blast with them.  They were also kind enough to share their video/photos and agreed to become super famous on this blog! I would love to do a JPR with them again in the future.  And now we are also Facebook friends, which we all know makes things *real! 

Below is pictured my new JPR BFFs Lacy and Andrea.  

It was a rainy gross morning, but the rain did start to let off after the first part of the ride.  

Lacy rode Gunner, her gorgeous Friesian cross (Tb I think).  She beasted obstacles.  

In this obstacle you needed to collect the umbrella from the trash bin, open it and hold it over your head, close it back up and return it to the bin. Simon was a little silly for this one and although we were successful it was not smooth.  

*beep beep* back up the hill trough the wig wag.  I think we got a 7 or an 8.  We defiantly tapped some poles and crushed a cone. 

This is one of the obstacles Simon kicked ass at, gaining a solid 10.  The goal was to push the bar around 360 degrees.  

Simon was a little unsure of this obstacle.  You had to walk back and forth over it three times without touching it.  We were successful with some caution. 

You will have to check out the video below. It shows a few obstacles.  

Ring jousting.  Using a wiggly driving whip, collect 4 rings, getting smaller in size, without hesitating or stepping back.  Games skills came into play and we got a 10.  We were told it was the second 10 on that obstacle of the day.  

Andrea backs her big ol beast, Quin, up the hill through the wig wavy poles.   

Andrea doing the umbrella challenge. 

Andrea riding through the water obstacle.  It had a blow up whale and also a kayak, complete with Elli’s dog Doc sitting in the kayak.  That part made me so smiley.  

Poe Conditioning Continues

May 10, 2017 

Two weekends ago was the Mid-Atlantic #1 competition and Poe was getting a little tired towards the end of day two.  So I am digging in a bit more on his conditioning.  

We have been doing some farm hacks and a little hill work at home.  Which is pretty usual for us.  And yesterday I descided to take him for some mountain work. Mind you, light mountain work, but I knew adding the uneven footing and the constant up and down would step up the work out.  I also needed a change of scenery.   

Poe is not the loveliest trail pony, and after having Simon for trails, I am totally over riding anything jiggy or spooky.  Poe is not usually jiggy, at least for the first hour in a group but not so much on his own.  But he is aware.  He constantly scans his surroundings, keeping an eye out for any pony-eating obstacles.   So as a rider I need to be engaged.  

So my goal was to keep the ride between 1 and 1 1/2 hours and to finish on a positive – unannoyed – note for both of us. I also selected Slat Lick since it is a much more frequented area than most I go.  Just in case.  

We arrived and started off on the shortest loop.  We did a lot of waking (Poe needed his eyes to be scanning his surroundings and not looking at his footing) but we got in some elivation and Poe enjoyed marching through the water and different surroundings.   1 hour and 15 minutes later we were done and loading up to head back home.  Success!   Every spring I seem to hit a few conditioning rides on Poe and I am always surprised at how good he is.  Maybe I need to reevaluate Poe and trails.  

ETS Course at VA Horse Festival – Wrap up 

March 30, 2017

I found two photos on the ETS Facebook page and my scores on the ETS website!  How exciting.  I did pretty well I think.  5th in the second bracket.  

ETS Obstacle Course – VA Horse Festival 

March 27, 2017 

On Saturday I went to the Virginia Horse Festival in Doswell, VA at the Meadow Event Park.  I rode Simon in the morning in the Performance Trail Challenge.  Then i walked around with Ellen, checking out the vendors which were more plentiful and better than in the past.  Woo! 

Then it was time to tack up for the afternoon event Simon and I had entered.  This was a trail obstacle course put on by Equine Trail Sports to benefit the Central Virginia Horse Resecue.  There were 8 obstacles put up in the arena with a judge at each one.  For each obstacle you selected which level you wanted to perform, one, two, or three.  Each level was more challenging but was also weighted for a higher score.  

The video included in this post is of the first five obstacles.  My phone memory ran out before I got to the last three.  

The first obstacle I attempted level 3. Ground tie and pick up all four feet.  Simon took a few steps. Wah wah.  

The second obstacle I also attempted level 3.  Weave through the balloon bags at a trot. This trusty mounted games pony that does a lot of pole bending and balloon popping found the flutter Mylar balloons to be a little scary so we did a nice wide weave and he skittered away from the final balloon. 

The third obstacle I attempted level 1. But I probably should have gone for level 2.  In this obstacle there are three barrels with a pile laid across two of the barrels.  Level 1 requires the rider to lift one end of the pole and walk it over to the third barrel while keeping the other end of the pole on the middle barrel.  Easy peasy.  Level 2 requires the rider to pick up one end of the pole and riding a full circle to replace it in its original spot at a trot.  Level 3 was at a canter.  

Obstacle 4 was simple.  Three bags spread out in a row down the arena.  For Level 2, which is what we did, start off at a trot at the first bag, pick up a canter just past the second bag and continue past the third bag.  Done and done.  Level three was canter to the second bag and do a flying change.  

Obstacle 5 is the last one on the video and it was bad. Like bad bad.  I ride Simon to the mailbox and pick up our mail about twice a week.  And he usually side passes all over the place but for this obstacle he really wanted to side pass the opposite way I was asking him to.  So we were all over the place.  Then as we were nearly finished the gate person called me over.  You can see it in the video.  She thought the other horse in the ring was about to finish and head in my direction and she didn’t want anyone to be spooked or hurt.  

So we continued onto the 6th obstacle.  This one was also not lovely and I would like to have been able to see it.   It was one of those black plastic garden tubes that you can put at the end of down spouts.  But this one was much larger, maybe a foot or 18 inches high.  I attempted level 2.  Step over the tube with the front feet and side pass to the right, pause and move on.  The sidepass was actually great this time but Simon was not so sure to step over the tube.  He was looking at it and approaching carefully until his hooves sprayed the front with dirt and it made a noise.  We did step over on after this and side pass off   But the whole obstacle was not pretty. 

And onto the 7th obstacle, the drag.  We judged on level 2.  Collect the rope and shorten it up to the mark, drag the ball to a mark and drop the rope.  So that went great and I racked on level 3 at the end with included a turn on the forehand and then drag the ball towards us.  Again, it went great.  Since dragging things has been a chellenge for Simon all along I was exceptionally proud of him.  

And the final obstacle was something entirely new to me. “Emergency stop”.  We did level 3 and I think we kicked butt at it.  We cantered o the mark and did a one rein stop (not one hand, one rein).  Then canter back and do a one rein stop with the other rein.  Woo! 

I am still waiting to hear how we did.  I was so worn out and it was quite a drive so I wanted to head out rather than wait two or three hours.  I did really enjoy this challenge and I like the ability to select which level I wanted to attempt at each obstacle.  It makes it possible to be successfully as you and your horse train up your skills.  I was proud of Simon and I. Yea! 

Again I was also surrounded by wonderful Rusty Stirrups members and had an excellent time.  Cathy and I chatted a bit afterwards and I am excited to join back up and have some more fun with that like minded group.  

Trail Report: Bluehole Top Loop 

March 20, 2017

Today I went back to Bluehole (big surprise) and I found a second loop, and I love it.  It is such a nice ride.  I need to figure out a tiny part towards the end still but it’s an awesome loop. 

I started out on the main road in. I rode past the logging areas and made the first major left to follow Grove Hollow.  I stayed on this even though I was super tempted to check out some of the side trails until it came to the three way fork.  The left is for the shorter loop.   It is through logging areas and has amazing views.  To the right is a lesser pronounced trail, more of a 4wheeler path.  I have not gone this way yet.  

I went straight.  It wraps around and past some more logging, and eventually sort of loops around to the left into more of a field with an older looking 4wheeler type of trail through some fields.   This part is not marked on my gps tracker. 

It keeps going along the ridge, in and out of clearings, with a view of the road a ways off to the right.  It is a nice clear trail, hardly anything down, no branches in the way, pleasant and smooth.   I really enjoyed this stretch of the ride.  It eventually came to a private property sign, and I stopped.  

Looking at the my gps tracker I could see the shorter loop was running somewhat parallel to the left at this point and not too far away.  I opted to cut down through the woods, which were rather clean and easy to navigate and shortly I popped out on the lower loop trail.  I assume there is an actual connection that I missed or didn’t notice (since I wasn’t really looking for one.).  I am already super eager to go back and mess around with this part of the loop.  

I finished off with the big down hill that is a little hard to see.  I think I followed it better this time.  But I am also eager to go back and mess around with this section as well.  I am so tempted I might go back tomorrow.  

When I was driving into Bluehole a large flat bed passed me going out and when I got to the parking area it was clear that the dude spent some time turning that beast around.  While I was unloading Simon a white SUV pulled past.  I said hello and he told me they were done for the day, and were just dropping off equipment but we be back in there working soon.  So I suppose this will mean the roads are kept up.  

Again super excited to go back here.  This loop is just shy of 8 miles and there are a lot of areas to move out.  Actually almost the whole ride can be ridden with some speed.  All the way until the very end.   I saw some deer, and a small mouse like critter.  There are also quite a few ponds just off the trail.   And a nice little creek side ride at the end.  I also assume the bears are waking up.  I saw a lot of dog spots and freshly scratched up trees, and even some fresh bear poo.  This was mostly in the area where the fireroad sort of ended into a 4 wheeler trail near the first pond.  

I attempted to video a little of this ride, a clip in different parts so you can see the terrain.  Of course I did not think about this for the first two thirds of the ride, which is more prominent Fire roads.   

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