Popsicle Pairs 1 – Upper Marlboro, MD

February 6, 2019

This past weekend I took Possum to his first games competition.  It was a one day laid back competition at the PG Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland in their covered arena.  I rode him in the Green/Novice division paired with Val on Izzy.

It was a really fun day with a great group of people.  Other than Green/Novice there was also a heat of “mixed” division players which pretty much encompassed everyone else; Intermediate, Open, and Over25.  It was a lot of fun and the laid back atmosphere was perfect for the off season.

Possum started out our first session very nervous.  Shaking and screaming.  I joked that he was like driving a car around with the alarm going off.  Leigh Anne stood with him behind the line for the first few races, which immensely helped him relax.  I am happy to report that even during his nervousness he still listened to me the entire ride.  By the end of session one he had settled down and was standing mostly quiet when waiting for his turn.

Session two started out with him nervous, although not as nervous as session one.  He started to escalate before we got started and Jeri jumped in and led him around a bit.  Again this really settled him down.  He was very responsive throughout the session and listened to me, moving off my leg and standing during a race when asked.  This round he settled down and stood behind the line nicely much more quickly.

It is hard to replicate the competition atmosphere and that was the one thing I was unsure of with him.  It is a lot going on, and a lot of ponies zooming around.  Particularly so for a pony that has generally done mostly trails his whole life.  But I am sure he will take this in stride and adjust quickly like he has with everything else.

Throughout the day he did have a few moments where he swerved around after a hand off and bowed away from a barrel here and there.  The balloons he didn’t notice until the last second and did a small jump away while I was popping, but still carried on.  Nothing extreme or detrimental, and I am sure with some more skill work and his ability to relax he will over come these minor infractions quickly.  All in all I am very pleased with him and his progress.  He was an awesome Possum!

With the start of the season fast approaching, and me wanting to get him as much experience as possible, I made some arrangements for the second Popsicle Pairs since I am unable to attend myself.  Friend Jenny is going to keep Possum for the week and take him to the event for me.  Friend and teammate Jon is going to ride him in the event.  Jon has such a quiet seat, and is a very strong rider and games player.  It is also helpful that Jon is rather insightful and notes things that are often missed.  I am very much looking forward to his report and suggestions of what I can work on.

A third event is also being planned for a larger outdoor arena in March.  You know Possum and I will be there ready to get him the experience he needs.

Video of Possum:

Green/Novice division video montage:

Mixed division video montage:

photos: Gina video: Kennedy

Winter Practice – Almeda Farm. VA – 1/6/19

Jan 7, 2018

We had another good practice yesterday.  Val, Jenny, Carol Ann, Jon and I cruised through quite a few races.

For me personally it was all about the lean.  I was leaning all over the place and kicking butt at it.  We did hi low, hoopla, and bank race pick up, all major leaning successes.  Possum was doing the newbie, face the obstacle vs standing along side it somewhat, but we worked it out.  I also worked on inside 4 flag turns and had a great reach for the flag.  I am also happy with my mounts in toolbox and hoopla.  It was not as speedy as I would have liked but it was much improved over the last practice where Possum backed up when I went to mount.  He was turning his head to the right and then turning to the right, which at first I thought was do to me holding the rein too tight, but when I mounted without holding the rein he still did it.  That’s something that will need a little work.

Possum is really getting into this games pony role and really enjoying himself.  I think he likes using his brain and doing lots of different things.  He certainly wants to please and is trying to do a good job.  I am very happy with him and excited to keep working on this project.  Project Possum.

Val pointed out he is opening his mouth when I put pressure on the reins.  I had not noticed this so I am glad she pointed it out.  He is stopping and turning as I ask and not sticking his head up, so it was not as obvious.  Ill try adding a nose band, and a flash if needed and see what happens.  I am also not sure if I have the best bit for him.  I think its at least close and I am not sure what change up would be an improvement.  He is currently in a happy mouth D with a bead in the middle like a French link.

Here is a short video clip of just Possum at practice yesterday.

Here is a longer video of everyone at practice yesterday.

 

 

Winter Practice 12/30/18 Almeda Farm

Jan 1, 2019

The last practice of the year was attended by a nice group of Val, Jon, Tommy, Linda, Carly, Jenny and myself and Matt standing in the coach.

Possum was awesome. He is catching on quickly. Linda and I were the first two in the ring and I got him through three solid races pretty quickly. He had a nice solid woe and his turns were pretty spot on.

Possum took most of the handoffs pretty well, especially towards the beginning of the session. He got a little less patient as he grew tired. And the bigger horses seem to intimidate him a bit more. This is certainly something we can work with. He also did balloon race like a champ. Last week he was not so sure of those colorful wobbly balls. Although Matt seemed to make him a bit nervous. I’ll put that on Matt since he always seemed to be flapping or clicking or making some sort of odd noise and motion when we were near him. Matt is going to make sure he is desensitized.

He is still horribly out of shape, and the weather sure is not helping. And we spent the last 30 min working on just standing quietly and watching.

Jenny brought her new ride. She was a very chill and laid back pony during the session and Jenny made a point of riding her all over and standing at different points in the ring. She trucked on through balloon like a champ too. The pony was not phased. She is also horribly out of shape but Jenny has already gotten some weight off her. I think this pair have some excellent potential.

This week we were joined by the infamous teammate Jon. This dude just picks up and goes. No big deal. Like he hasn’t been out of the saddle or missed a single practice. His encouraging words were also very welcome.

Since both Hoke parents were in attendance we also had Dex and Pax building some castles while we practiced. Paxton so politely pointed at Possum and told me “pretty”. As Jon said, kids don’t lie about things like that. What a sweetie pie.

Carly and Remi look good every week and I am thrilled with her dedication. Not only does she ride well but she is a pleasant smile and warm laugh. I love having her and Remi a part of our team already.

Part time Rogue, Tommy made an appearance with his trusty pony Charlie. Always a pleasure but I don’t think I got to say more than two words to him through all of practice. We were always on opposite races.

Linda and the amazing DJ joined us and it was good to play with them again. Linda got me and Possum started on handoffs at the beginning of practice. I did not realize that DJ is old enough to drink these days. He’s a super star.

And Matt. I can’t wait till he is back on his pony, and I am sure he feels that way more than I do. But it’s great to have him along and giving pointers. He’s an excellent teammate.

Our little video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB4mcAmCw80&feature=share

Until next Sunday.

Friday Night Lights

December 29, 2018

It’s Friday night, what do you do? Trailer your pony to an indoor for some dry lighted ride time. That’s what you do!

I took Possum to the welcoming Sunset Willow Stables. This was my first time here and I am so happy to have found it. Anne, the person in charge, is super kind and friendly and made me feel right at home.

I was in the indoor and riding in no time. It was larger than I expected and just what I needed.

I did trot sets with mounting block work in between and added in a few sprints for good measure. We worked on boring stuff like moving off the leg and nice round circles. We also worked on hard “whoas” and tight turns.

I am so glad I made this connection. I wish it were a bit closer so I could get there frequently. But I’ll see what I can manage and enjoy that!

Xmas Eve Ride 2018

December 28, 2018

Kerri and I went solo for our ride this year on the C&O.

Simon was a bit of a twit but Kerri had fun with his antics.

This was my third ride on Possum and he was fantastic.

He was brave, marched through puddles and was happy to lead or follow.

Fun was had by all!

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