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.

TSRC Crystal Crown JPR June 29, 2019

July 4, 2019

Our JPR team for the day – left to right – Heather on Tag, Krista on Possum, Val on Babyface, Carly on Remi, and Tommy on Quibble.

Although I am supposed to be taking my riding lightly while my finger heals up a bit I had already signed up for a JPR (Judged Pleasure Ride) with some of my friends and there were no refunds (I checked). So clearly I had to ride, right?

We just happened to all pull into the venue in a line. One, two, three in a row. We checked in, had a chat and a mimosa and then tacked up.

It was a super hot sunny muggy day but luckily most of the ride was in the shade.

We were delayed on our start out time due to a back up at the first obstacle.

Obstacle 1 Video:

In this obstacle your time starts as you cross the cones, you walk to the mailbox, stop and stand, open the mailbox, remove a piece of mail, close the mailbox, and then ride to the other mailbox. Here you stop/stand, open the box, deposit the mail, close the mailbox and then ride through the end cones.

I went first on Possum and I was u sure how he would do. I have gotten the mail at my house on him quite a few times but this was his first obstacle. He did really well. I was super impressed.

Heather and Val has nearly clean runs, Remy started off a bit jumpy, and Tommy talked quibble all the way through.

Krista – 10

Val – 9

Heather – 8

Carly – 7

Tommy – 7

Obstacle 2 Video:

This obstacle has a white circle painted on the ground. You had to ride through the start cones and place your horses front hooves in the circle. Then do a turn on the forehand in either direction around the circle keeping the front hooves in. Then ride through the exit cones.

You would think this wouldn’t have been too hard for us. Our ponies cross lines all the time. But “lines” are not circles in the woods. Val and I were a mess. I never got Possum to touch the circle. Tommy sort of walked around it, making his own circle but did make contact. Carly got a little contact but was still pretty far from perfection. Heather was the most successful of the group.

This is the only obstacle any of us got as low as a 1 at.

Krista – 1

Val – 1

Heather – 6

Carly – 3

Tommy – 1

Obstacle 3 Video:

The Barrel Walk – in this obstacle you enter the course at a walk, collect the end of the pole from the jump standard, walk a circle around the barrel and standard, keeping the other end of the pole on top of the barrel. Then you replace the pole and exit the course.

This obstacle went pretty well for all of us. The only real issues derived from making too small of a circle and having the end pop off the barrel. I enjoyed this one.

Krista – 9

Val – 10

Heather – 7

Carly – 8

Tommy – 5

Obstacle 7 Video (this Obstacle was purposefully out of order)

This one was set up on the field in the sun. There were three bending poles with a shoot at the end. You trotted in and through the poles and then into the shoot and halted for a three count before trotting out. There were two wooden dog cut outs at the shoot.

The cutouts were scary to Possum and I think Babyface was a little u sure what this stop and halt after bending poles was all about.

Krista – 6

Val – 7

Heather – 7

Carly – 10

Tommy – 9

Obstacle 4 Video:

The Ghost. For this obstacle you rode in quietly at the walk, collected a rope that was hanging from a tree, then while backing up you pulled the rope to lift the ghost. You continued until all four hooves crossed a line on the ground.

The ghost was surprisingly heavy. It had rocks in it and if you released it too quickly it crashed loudly. I accidentally did that and Possum jumped. For the most part we were all successful at this obstacle just not as tidy as we should be.

Krista – 7

Val – 8

Heather – 7

Carly – 7

Tommy – 7

Obstacle 5 Video:

The walk on stuff obstacle. This obstacle was very short. Two jump standards marked the start, with a muddy spot just before it and a rug laying on the ground just after it. Touching the rug was a small wooden bridge which touched the edge of a tarp that finished up at a second set of jump standards to mark the end. It was maybe 10-15 feet long in total.

I did terrible at this obstacle. We did not touch any part of it. Tag marched on over like a champ. Everyone else successfully crossed but with jumpy ponies.

Krista – 2

Val – 8

Heather – 10

Carly – 5

Tommy – 5

Obstacle 6 Video:

The backing obstacle. For this one you rode in a shoot, turned right and after a few steps stopped and stood next to a jump standard with a bell on top of it. You rang the bell and then backed up the shoot to a second standard with bell. You range this bell then trotted forward and out.

Possum did pretty well at this one for not having the strongest back. When I got to the second bell we were too wide for me to reach the bell and in moving him over (not much lateral skills) Possum stepped out which lost us some points.

Carly was very similar to me and stepped out at the same point. Tommy and Heather has near perfect rides. Val’s run was much more entertaining. Babyface got stuck towards the end of his backing and reared up rather big, knocking the stand and such over. Val held on just fine and all was ok.

Krista – 8

Val – 6

Heather – 9

Carly – 8

Tommy – 9

Obstacle 8 Video:

The car wash. Ride forward and through the hanging tarp at a walk.

We all did really well at this one. Possum, Remi, and Quibble paused at it. But otherwise this was no big deal.

Krista – 9

Val – 10

Heather – 10

Carly – 8

Tommy – 9

obstacle 9 Video:

The flag carrier obstacle. Walk in and up to a barrel. Collect the flag, trot with the flag vertical around the cone and then break down to a walk at the line, placing the flag in the second barrel at a walk.

This was a fun obstacle too. Tommy attempted it all at a moving trot which was sort of funny.

Krista – 9

Val – 8

Heather – 7

Carly – 8

Tommy – 7

Obstacle 10 was – push the ball.

Using your horse only you push the ball through the standards.

Obstacle 10 Video:

This one was fun but took forever. There was a slight hill and the ball inevitably went down the hill and then it took some maneuvering to get it back up and to the side through the standards.

Heather has the least success with Tag being sure this was not ok. Remi kept trying to pick up the ball, biting it, but the rest of us were mostly successful.

Krista – 7

Val – 7

Heather – 3

Carly – 5

Tommy – 5

We got back, untacked and cooked out. Then we enjoyed the lovely provided lunch.

It was a really fun ride with some really fun friends. Although it was super hot and humid and it took forever, but really about four hours to complete. There was no where to really move out and making up some time either. They really could have cut some of the riding through trail to shorten it up some. I also felt like some of the judges were not consistent in their scoring, possibly too generous sometimes and not generous enough at other times.

Games Practice 11/25/18

November 26, 2018

We had another good games practice this Sunday. Val, Carly, Zoe, and myself were joined by Jenny, back in Boyce at the lovely Almeda Farm.  Matt and Joan, the wonderful people that they are, came out unmounted to give us a hand.

We worked through a bunch of races; tack shop, ball and cone, four flag, flag fliers, association, bottle shuttle, ring the cone, and even Canadian, which we hardly ever practice.

Always a good time.

We are back next Sunday for another session.

Here is a video compilation of our fun!

Clifton Horse Society 9/9/18 JPR – Bull Run Park

September 14, 2018

It was a very rainy day at the Clifton Horse Society JPR. It went back and forth from heavy soaking, to medium rain, and on occasion, light rain. It also hung in the upper fifties all day, which made for a shocking weather change since it has been in the 90s with high humidity.

On my way there I did question why I was bothering to go.  But I am no quitter!

Driving clip:

I was smart enough to put Simon’s sheet with neck on the evening before so I could at least tack up a nice dry pony.

The JPR had a “construction zone” theme which made for some pretty cool obstacles.  I love when they have a theme for these rides.

Jenny and I headed out early, since there were so many cancelations we didn’t bother to wait around until our assigned time.

Obstacle 1: Pretty simple, walk to the first cone, transition to trot at that cone, stop at the second cone for a three second count, then walk on to the third cone.

Jenny: 10

Krista: 7

Obstacle 1 Video: We only have Jenny on this obstacle

Jenny had an excellent ride here.  Simon did fine with the timing of his transitions but tossed his head with each one and had a little leap.

Obstacle 2: The backing obstacle.  Start with your ponies butt facing the barrels and back through the shoot.

This should have been a good one for Simon and I, but nope.  He was too full of himself to even get backed up to the barrels.  This is the highest he has ever reared too, which is just silly.  Doesn’t he sort of remind you of that cartoon purple elephant in a tutu here (Disney’s Fantasia)?


Jenny and King had an excellent go at this obstacle.  I believe she got one point off for tapping a pole.

Jenny: 9

Krista: 1

Obstacle 2 Video:

Obstacle 3: The water trap.  This was a pretty cool obstacle.  there were poles on the ground with a tarp fixed over it with sand and water in it.  Simply ride across it.

The judges told us that this was a challenging obstacle and no one had done it perfectly yet.  King was not cool with it initially, but after we both had our go Jenny showed it to him and he marched on through it perfectly.  Simon was huffing at it before we were even near it.  He pawed at it and eventually marched on through it.

Jenny: 1

Krista: 5

Obstacle 3 Video:

Obstacle 4: The gate.  lift the chain up, go through, put the chain back, only using one hand.

This is another obstacle that should have been easy for us, but tends to be hit or miss with Simon.  Sometimes we score high and it goes great, and other times he is a loon about it and we bomb.  This time around was a complete bomb.  He acted afraid of the whole thing.  You can see in the video he sniffs the sign and then leaps away from it.  There was also a long nail sticking out of the pole to prevent the chain from dropping too far and it was right near his eye and I was a bit nervous he would toss his head and impale his eye, Murphy’s law and all.

Jenny cruised through this one with King as well.  Not much to say about her rides, they were great.

Jenny: 9

Krista: 1

Obstacle 4 Video:

There were deer on course.

Obstacle 5: Trot straight through, no tapping or knocking anything.  Stop at the cone and touch it with your foot.

Simon was still a bit wonky for this one but getting better.  He jumps and has never refused so I was a bit surprised by his reaction.  And he did not want to stand at the end, which is where I got marked down.

I believe King tapped some poles, and he list his momentum a bit but I am surprised her score was not higher here.

Jenny: 6

Krista: 5

Obstacle 5 Video:

Obstacle 6: The drag obstacle.  Collect the rope from the pole, drag the hard hats around the barrel and back, putting the rope back on the pole.  Do not hit anything with the hard hats.

I knew this one would be bad.  We have worked on dragging and we just don’t seem to retain any improvement from one ride to the next.  Each time its like starting over.

Jenny’s run was fantastic.  Again.

I was happy I could drag it as far as I did.  It was truly about what I expected.  I could feel Simon bunched up and ready to blow up under me.  We called this a win.

Jenny: 10

Krista: 3

Obstacle 6 Video:

Jenny rode her three year old, King.  He is one nice horse.  Very chill and easy going.  She said she usually does ground work before riding but we did not bother with a “warm up” for this day since it was so gross out.  Side note – a warm up would have been very helpful for Simon too.  But King was still amazing.  He is a good looking horse too, part Tennessee Walker and part Quarter Horse, and still young, I love his color too.

Obstacle 7: This obstacle involved riding up the path at a walk, picking up the vest and putting it on, ride around the barrel and back to the post.  Take the vest off, put it back.

This one was extremely tight time wise.  And the vest being wet and sticking to the pole, itself, and your own jackets was not helpful.  We were warned in advance by the judges and told not too worry too much, just get it around us as best as we could.  I did find the ride to the post to be rather long considering the one minute time limit.  But we were also told they were being a bit lax on the timer because they were aware the vest was sticking to everything and slowing everyone down.

This was the first obstacle that didn’t suck for Simon and I.  He had finally settled in somewhat.  I had issues getting the vest on, as you can see in the video.  it twisted up on itself and the second armhole was folded over.  In retrospect I should have put my reins down and put it on with my right arm first, and over the head.  But eh, we made it work.

Jenny did excellent as well, although the vest stuck to the pole for her.  Once she got it off she was able to get it on simply.

Jenny: 10

Krista: 9

Obstacle 7 Video:

A lot of the trail was under water.  There was a whole loop that was cut off for flooding.  Jenny and I both found the ride to be a lot better without that useless loop, and we hope they will continue to cut it out.

The initial ride had a minimum finish time of two hours, meaning you couldn’t go faster than that.  They removed that from the ride since the one loop was removed.  But the course still took about two hours, and there was no back up at obstacles, we never had to wait.

Obstacle 8: Ride through the barrels.  This one was easy, although the barrels were super close together and the lights were flashing.  So a good test for a spooky horse.

Jenny cruised on through like nothing.  I also had no issues.  We both caught the first barrels with our feet which cost us each a point.

Jenny: 9

Krista: 9

Obstacle 8 Video:

Obstacle 9: Walk up to the bucket that was hanging off the tow hook on the back of the wrecker, stop, and collect a carrot, then walk back.  The key here was your horse could not mess with the bucket and it was a full 4 points off if they stuck their head into the bucket.  It was one point off if you did not stop fully.

Jenny made this thing look easy.  Raking in those 10s! King did not care about the wrecker and its flashing lights or anything.

Simon was settled by now but feeling all his inquisitiveness, I had a feeling the bucket would be hard for him not to mess with.  I was correct and he kept trying to stick his head in it, and it was a true challenge to prevent him from doing so.  In retrospect I should have thrown away the one point for not stopping and grabbed the carrot on the ride by so he didn’t have time to go after the bucket.  I think our games skills would have made that an easy task.

Jenny: 10

Krista: 6

Obstacle 9 Video:

Obstacle 10: ride to the cone and dismount.  Lead your pony to the table, and stamp the paper. Return to the cone and remount using the block or from the ground.

Jenny again crushed this one.  She did pull King to the side as she mounted which is what I think cost her the point.  I think this was just a bit of his youngness showing.
Simon and I also had a good run.  Finally.

Jenny: 9

Krista: 10

Obstacle 10 Video:


Jenny finished with an 83

Krista finished with a 56

I did notice a typo on the score results that CHS sent out, they flip flopped Jenny and my scores on obstacle 7.  I emailed them about it and adjusted everything on here to be accurate. 

I believe this is by far the lowest score I have gotten at a JPR, by a lot.  we usually score in the 70s or 80s, putting us a solid 20-30 points down on this run.  Ouch.

Good thing there is another ride this year to try and redeem ourselves at.

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