Red Horse Equine Training: 1st Game Night

July 6, 2020

On Thursday I met Jenny for a game night hosted by Amanda Brunson in Louisa, VA. It was a little bit of a drive but doable, especially with little else going on. and I always have fun with Jenny who spoke highly of Amanda, so I gave it a go.

I arrived my usual, way-too-early, but had time to leisurely groom and tack Simon, reply to some messages and then wonder to the ring nice and early.

Amanda had all sorts of obstacles set up in the indoor which I was able to check out in advance while chatting with her.

When everyone was ready Amanda explained the first game. It was a pairs course with multiple obstacles. The two riders took turns with each completing an obstacle back and forth until all obstacles had been completed by one of the two riders. To start an obstacle the rider began from behind a basket, rode into a square of cones at the center, and then to the chosen obstacle. Each obstacle was paired with a ring or ball which the rider retrieved after navigating the obstacle. The rider then carried the ring or ball back to the starting point basket and deposited it signaling the next rider to go.

Obstacles included crossing over some flower boxes, crossing a bridge, walking over noodles, weaving through baskets, pushing a large ball, and using a pulley to retrieve a stuffed animal. Jenny and I started off, and thoroughly enjoyed the course. We than cheered on the other pair, Elizabeth and Anna. We took a second round of the course, speeding up our time, laughing the whole way. We both very much enjoyed this game and it played well for Jenny and I with our Mounted Games background.

The next game was similar to that electronic game “Simon” with lights that light up requiring the person playing it to hit the buttons in the same order, adding a new one each time. We lined up and started over the obstacles with rider one picking an obstacle, editing it in anyway they wished. After the last rider completed the obstacle they added another, and the circle continued. This was also a lot of fun.

The final game for the night was sort of an equine version of basketball horse. One rider selected one of two obstacles and added a twist. Each rider then took the challenge to do the same thing. We were all laughing and cheering each other on. Jenny managed a double MGAA Games style obstacle by “hoopla-ing” a tall cone, then dismounting and going through a hula hoop. Anna upped the challenge by putting the hoop over her horses head. And later Elizabeth upped the bridge obstacle, which was modified by crossing it twice in a figure eight, by taking off her bridle for it.

One challenge was to back a course through the cones. Jenny had just taught her pony, Seven to back, and the skill was stronger on the ground. So Jenny smartly dismounted and backed her with hand signals and cues. Very clever.

In the end we all won a prize and left with big smiles. Amanda has set a standing Thursday night game night date and I am excited to go to the next one. It was really a good time.

*Thank Amanda for hosting and sharing the photos and video.

Day One – getting to know the new pony

June 9, 2020

I got home with Dex on Saturday and woke up excited to play with him on Sunday. I brought him in from the big field to the yard paddock. Rich brought Simon in as well. Rich also had a “work area” set up in the driveway we needed to work our way through to get to the gate, and Dex did not care. He stood under the canopy and navigated all the equipment and tools. Rich even held him for me while I ran to grab something.

Next I have him a bath. I got his mane scrubbed out and conditioned but ran out of supplies after that and just hand washed his tail and hind quarters with no soap. I am going to need to restock myself with some bathing supplies.

He stood quietly while I took my time. He did play a bit in the hose but was a true gentleman and not concerned about any of it. Rich joked that he was probably hot and happy to be getting hosed after living in NY and moving to hot humid Virginia.

Next I brushed him out and groomed him up. He politely picked up his hooves and stood quietly while I sprayed him with detangler and fly spray.

I finished his work for the day with a long walk around the farm. He had chickens running around him, the dogs and cats, the neighbor on his four wheeler and lots of weird farm things to look at. We stopped and stood frequently and Dex was easy going and polite for all of it. He looked at some of the stuff and did some lip licking and chewing, not continued to be level headed and laid back as he took it all in.

DIY Face Mask (with filter pocket)

March 23, 2020

This is not a typical post for this blog but with the current situation the world is finding itself in and with the shortage of face masks I brought my sewing skills out and made some masks for my family. A few people asked me how they could make their own so here is my pattern and process.

If you have a traditional professionally manufactured mask then please use that. But if you’re in a pinch, maybe this will help you out.

I also put all of the photos into a YouTube slide show video for those that prefer that.

Feel free to share

This is our end product.


-1 rectangle of fabric 7×9

-2 rectangles of fabric 4.5×9

-2 pieces of elastic (thin or rounded) 11 inches each (adjust as needed)

-cutting and sewing items (scissors, sewing machine, thread)

– (optional) iron

Cut out your (1) 7×9 rectangle of fabric

Now cut out two 4.5×9 rectangles

Your three pieces of fabric cut and ready to sew

Fold over the edge along one long (9 inch) side of both 4.5×9 rectangles and sew along each.

Next line one of the smaller rectangles up with the one large rectangle. You want the fabric face to face so it appears inside out. You want the folded edge in the middle and the long edges lined up. See the photo below.

Now sew the three sides. It will be like you have a pocket when you are done.

Next lay the other short piece so it is lined up on the opposite side. It’s folded edge will cover the other pieces folded edge. See photo.

Now sew the three edges.

When you are done you’ll have a sort of hidden pocket.

Flip it right side out. Poke the corners out so you have a nice rectangle.

Optional: iron it flat. This just makes for a cleaner finish and it also makes the folding and final stitching easier.

Optional: sew around the edges. Again this is not necessary but it creates a cleaner finish and the next few steps will be easier.

Now you want to add two folds in. This makes the mask fit better. There are several photos below and a tiny video clip to show the process. It helps to clip the edges when you are done to hold them. If you do not have clips or pins you could use binder clips or paper clips. It also helps to iron them down.

I like to iron them down. It makes it much easier to keep everything in place.

Prepare your elastic. Simply sew the ends together to form a circle.

Fold the side over (short side) maintaining their fold, and slipping the elastic in. See the photo. You can iron here as well.

Now sew. Do not sew over the elastic. Sew inside of it so you are creating a sleeve the elastic runs through.


The pocket. You can put a filter in here and remove it.

Trail Report: Edinburg Gap 12/15/19

December 24, 2019

Jenny and I were looking for a place to trail ride sort of between us and we decided to check out the Edinburg Gap area. It has a lot of ATV trails which are also open to horses. There are two parking areas, one with a big loop, tons of parking, and even a toilet.

Look at all those trails. Tons of them. We parked at the lot to the west (where the toilet sign is in the image above). The other lot (where the P is in the image above) it just a little further East along the road. It also has a lot of parking and room to turn around but if it’s a particularly busy day a trailer could have some difficulty.

There is a rather rocky trail that connects the two parking lots. There are also trails across the road. Lots of options.

Below is a quick clip of part of the parking area.

There are signs up near the entrance. They have maps up and lots of trail info.

There are also paper maps you can grab and take with you. Very handy.

Although the parking area was packed (especially when we got back) we only passed two groups of dirt bikes and both knew right of way. They stopped and shit off well in advance of us and have a polite “have a nice one” in exchange when we passed.

For this ride we decided to keep it to two hours and try the loop that goes in and out of the larger parking area. We rode out on trail 493 on the bottom of the parking area.

There is a concrete creek crossing pretty quick on which has signs warning equestrians about footing. There is also a creek crossing right next to it off the concrete. We went ahead and rode over the concrete and found it just fine.

This trail loop continued to be pretty rocky, nothing too out of the ordinary for this general area.

One thing that I love about this loop is it is covered in bridges. We must have crossed well over a dozen of them. Some were bare wood and some were packed in with dirt. Some were long and some were short. Luckily both Jenny’s horse King and my pony Simon don’t bat an eye at bridges. But if you have a horse that need some bridge work this would be a good place to get that work in.

And this trail network is also super well marked. Not only are colored trail marks clearly visible on trees (We followed the blue Vs) there are also maps posted at intersections with “you are here” stickers on them.

The loop was mostly a walking loop since it was pretty rocky, but we opted to add on the little lower loop you can see in the images at the top (south on 493, made a left onto 497 cross trail to 498 loop back to 497 cross trail and rode back north on 493 to the parking area popping out at the top of the parking area).

Look at King being cool.

MGAA International Team 2019 – Training Camp

July 25, 2019

This past weekend we kicked off the 2019 MGAA International Team activities with a training camp. The Radford family stepped up to host everyone at their lovely home in Lovettsville, VA and we were able to arrange some gracious ride time at the Carpenter’s arena in nearby Round Hill, Virginia.

We knew from the start that teammember Sadie was not going to be able to make the weekend and we missed her crazy antics and amazing personality but we had a fantastic time even without her. Jesse was also only able to take part in the first ride session and daytime social time but we took what we could get. Abby F, Abby R, and Mikayla were all in for the long haul arriving Friday evening. I joined them at the ring for the first ride session Saturday morning.

We had a nice assortment of ponies including four of the Radford’s, my two, my teammate Matt’s pony Hero and although we didn’t need more, my other teammate Val also offered all of her ponies. Matt and Val both know how important it is for these riders to get on as many different ponies as possible. And also how important it is for me to see how they handle different ponies and which ones they are most comfortable on.

This weekend was important for me to also get to know the riders better. I regularly coach Abby F and Mikayla on their usual MGAA team, and I also coached Sadie last summer. But I have not worked with Abby R or Jesse. So getting to know them under saddle, especially on different ponies was extremely helpful. It was also an excellent opportunity for the riders to get to know each other and how they interact, and also get to know me as a coach.

I noted how they handed off with each other and who seemed most comfortable riding which ponies and doing which skills. So lots of good stuff there.

We started off with a nice two hour practice with me mostly observing them and their riding. They made very few mistakes and all rolled along nicely.

Did I mention it was ridiculously hot and all sorts of events were cancelling for the extreme conditions? Well these girls, and our ever helpful ring crew of Heather and Beth labored through the heat without a complaint.

After the first session we took a nice long relaxing break and enjoyed a refreshing and delusions lunch provided by Heather. We also spent a good few hours together making some reservations for the trip. The team helped pick out the hotel we will be staying in for the one night we are staying somewhere hotel-ish. And then we researched and found a camp ground in Northern Wales in Snowdonia where we will be exploring for a few days before the competition. The team was very helpful and Abby R is the one that finally found a camp ground for us.

Eventually we were back out for session two of riding. It was still wicked hot but by the time we were tacked up a storm was pending and pushing in much cooler air, forcing on a nice strong breeze and it even decided to rain lightly on us. It was all welcomed as the girls ran through another hour and a half of races before we called practice because of lightning. In this session I picked a few skills I saw that needed a little work and gave out a little home work for when the riders went back home. It was another excellent practice.

Back at the Radford’s house we dove into some pizza and then I was surprised with a delicious birthday cake and lovely presents from everyone. It was my birthday and it was so appreciated that everyone made me feel special. I can’t wait to show off my gifts and it really showed how much they all know me!

Right after cake I showered and then went right to sleep. That heat sucks it out of you. Plus I needed to rest up for the fun mini scrimmage back at the Carpenters the next day. And to avoid the heat we were starting early.

Sunday we were tacked up and ready to roll nice and early. Matt, who is a Pony Club Horseman is about to go to Pony Club Champs East, as were two other friends, Virginia and Grace. So they agreed to scrimmage with us. And Val joined us and flipped back and forth between the teams filling in as the forth rider for two teams.

We rode for about two hours rolling through races with Heather and Karen schlepping equipment. I am so proud of the team. They did an excellent job and rode well.

The whole weekend they were nothing short of fantastic and did an excellent job of jumping on a new pony and galloping off in a race whenever I said “switch”! There was not a single complaint and we did have a nice variety of build and personality in our ponies for them to show their skills on.

I am very much looking forward to the trip we have coming up in less than two weeks. I think this team is going to be extremely fun and will have an excellent time.

We hope you will join us in our blog posts and cheer us on as we share our adventures with you.

Here is a compilation of video clips from the second practice session and the scrimmage. Sorry, I did not think to get any video during the first session. And I also forgot to get a photo of everyone at the scrimmage.

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