Krista’s Birthday Bash Competition

July 26, 2018

Last Friday I turned 40. I am not a big age equals numbers person but this one sort of got me. 40 is a real adult, no excuses, middle aged, full adulthood adult.  So Val took the opportunity to throw me a birthday bash games competition!  Seriously, what better way to roll into real adulthood than playing games with your friends? I sure can’t think of a better way!

Val went official and rented out the Woodstock Equestrian Park arena, set up an online entry form, ordered t-shirts for everyone, and even organized a nice long pizza lunch break party and everything.

So many friends turned out, and we even had a crap forecast for the day. It was dry while we set up, but by the time we had most of the arena set, it started to rain.  In the photo above you can see Eliza peeling the score sheets apart, and this is before we got riding and it really started to rain!

A bunch of people got held up just before they got there due to a train being stopped on the tracks.  But that was just a bump in the road (literally).  We were playing it cool for the day, and rolled with it.

These two cracked me up all. day. long.  They showed up in “Flossy Posse” shirts complete with chains on to represent the movie “Girls Trip” that they watched about 100 times on our UK trip this June.  I laughed so hard.  “Dina” and “Lisa” even made me a little key chain gift.  They were also joined by Elise and yelled at me hilariously when I rode. I am lucky I didn’t pee my pants laughing. So funny.

Val organized us into two divisions.  “Osh Kosh” rode first and “Simon” rode second.  Osh Kosh was my former Open pony and Simon is my slower Novice/Intermediate/O25 pony.

Most of us scrambled with someone new.  I rode in the Simon division, on Simon, appropriate right! haha, with Jenny on her giant Bitey.  Jenny was way fun to ride with. She’s picked so much up so fast. And Bitey is at that point in his training where he “knows” what to do, and maybe needs a little “oh no you don’t”. Mean while Simon needed to remember he can keep going when I lean over and he needs to stand while I get on. It was a good training session for both of us.

We had a break between divisions to change out ponies and ring crew.  It was a ton of fun and very laid back.  Oh and wet.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography

After session 1 we took a fun lunch break.  The grounds were nice enough to allow us to use the garage so we could sit down and eat in the dry.  It was really fantastic.  Carol Ann made cupcakes.  The pizza was huge!  Fred brought watermelon.  Lots of chatting.  It was a regular party!

Then we mixed it back up and combined into one heat of dedicated players and hit the field.  While we were partying it up in the garage the rain had turned the ring into a bit of a pool.  Although I will say, the footing was still pretty decent.  Not nearly as rough as many of our venues!  And games players, most of us just carry on.  And so we did.  Back into the rain we went.  We decided to skip the scoring and just played for fun.

Tommy took on the Refereeing job, and as you can see the scoring area was a little wet.

But everyone was still smiles and having a blast.

Lots of laughing, catcalling and having fun.

It felt a lot like being in the UK, but warmer!

And we figured it was good practice for the next wet MA Competition we have.

The edges of the ring got soupy but the middle wasn’t nearly as bad.  We still decided to cut sock race.  Eh, not necessary.

It was really an amazing amazing time.

And by far the best birthday I have ever had.

Thank you everyone that came out and took part.

Those that rode and those that just came out and helped!

and mostly, thanks VAL for putting it all together!

Feelin the love.

Photo: Genevieve Arens Photography.

2018 MGAA Nationals

July 22, 2018

photo: poster designed by Jamie Baggio – amazing!

MGAA Nationals is a full three day event that took place last weekend, and it’s taken me a bit to recover and get it written up. It’s one of the most exciting events of the games season and I absolutely love being able to settle in and enjoy the extended competition.

photo: Poe ready for session one.

As Co-organizer for the event I arrive even earlier than most so I can be there to check everyone in and also so I can organize and set up. Since this takes all day Thursday I headed up after work on Wednesday, getting in at almost exactly 10:30. Val was wonderful and met me up there. I am so grateful for her help unloading and setting up my ponies and all of the prizes.

photo: Daisy waking up on Thursday morning.

Prizes, that’s one of the things that makes Nationals special. There are a ton of prizes. Not just for the over all winners, but rather nice prizes for everyone, as well as race prizes too! These are generally sponsored by businesses, teams, competitions and individuals so that the team that wins a particular race gets an additional prize. These prizes come in all types; gift cards to major businesses like Amazon and Starbucks and also smaller businesses like MGAA owned business, Stable Hands that gives equine massages, large products like Prolite pads donated by Hastilow Saddles USA, specialized prizes like fancy wooden handled scrub brushes with the MGAA logo and “Nationals 2018” engraved on them, water buckets, horse shampoo, MGAA shirts, local maple syrup gift packs specially prepared by teams from their home turf, first aid gift packs for our Over25 division, and so many more wonderful fun, useful and creative prizes. Sorting all of these prizes is literally an all day ordeal.

photo: Daisy being a barn dog Thursday morning before everyone arrived. Fresh from rolling in a nice clean stall.

I also really enjoy being able to start this long intense competition out at a slower and more relaxed pace. Val and I slept in a little on Thursday. We leisurely fed and mucked out our ponies. We met up with our Canadian friends who also arrived Wednesday. And we were introduced to our new, New Zealand friends who came down with them.  But it wasn’t long before the competitors started to roll in, Carl arrived with more prizes, the shirts, and the very important equipment, and things got busy.

photo: Open Individuals briefing before the final session.

Sticking to the organizer discussion of Nationals, this event is always hectic. There are so many aspects to keep up with.  There are the usual aspects of running a major competition, but there are added aspects specific to MGAA Nationals.  I already mentioned all the prizes, which includes sponsors.  These sponsors can also dictate specific races so this can mash up the race lists making them different for each division.  I do try hard to keep each division the same while including the sponsored races to simplify things.  And I try to keep the races streamlined for set up for ring crew.  And keep the lists exciting for riders so its not a slew of flag races, or mug races in a row, or in the same session, and since its five session I try to keep the amount of vaulting races, and speed races down so that our riders and our ponies are not over taxed.  Although this manipulation of the race lists does end up being like juggling pots of water, oil, and fire all at the same time, and mind you, I don’t know how to juggle.  This year I took last year’s race list and tried to edit off of it.  Which seemed to work surprisingly well.  Except when my team was making race orders I noticed the very last race of the entire competition was pony pairs!  What the heck!  What stupid organizer planned that? Right?

photo: team Gone Rogue after the final session.

The work schedule is also a bit of a challenge because Open runs individuals on Friday instead of teams.  which leaves one division drastically short of help on Friday.  Open is also a division I tend to pull some of the heavy hitters from for some of the major jobs like Ring Crew Chief, First Aid, Chief Referee, etc.  For those jobs it needs to be people that will be there for the entire event, and not just Saturday and Sunday.  I admit I sort of threw my hands up on the work schedule this year when it came to ring crew workers for the Over25 division on Friday and we ran rough.  This was totally due to me getting a little frustrated and thinking, “Okay, I’ll have to come back to this issue later.” and then completely forgetting about it.

photo: Poe and I after the final session. He is a beast.

Another challenge is the par-tay.  Saturday night we have a party for everyone.  Luckily Wendi and Carl handled nearly all of this.  The main part for me was to arrange the entertainment part which was mostly done in advance.  This year we got a ninja warrior style inflatable obstacle course.  It was 90 feet long with two shoots down it, designed for all ages but used primarily for adult functions.  It had calls to climb, slides to go down, things to go over and under and through.  It was a lot of fun.  The company arrived Saturday, set it up, and came back on Sunday to take it down.  Wendi and Carl handled the pot luck part and cooking the burgers and dogs.  I extracted myself from this aspect of the event as much as possible.

photo: Jenny and Lindsey diving into the ninja obstacle!

The equipment aspect was totally and completely handled by Carl.  I did next to nothing with this.  Carl was amazing and handled nearly all of it.  I cannot even begin to explain how much of a weight off this was.  The equipment is a major aspect of any competition, and not having to be knee deep in equipment preparations, worrying about lime vs. line paint, rubber bands and balloons was amazing.  As per the usual, Carl is a life saver.

photo: Jessie and I after we finished the obstacle!

All in all the organizing aspect of this event went about as well as can be expected.  I am pretty darn happy with it. There were some bumps and some confusion, but nothing major and nothing that couldn’t be worked around.    So success.

photo: Thursday morning, Poe all set up and ready for Nationals to start.

Now down to the team aspect.  Gone Rogue was a bit slap dash this time around with Val, Jon and myself scrambling with Lauren and Tommy.  This ended up being a super fun combo, and I would love to ride with this make up again.

Lauren was a lot of fun.  She has excellent skills and they complimented our own well.  Her pony Dusty is a tried and true games expert and still has plenty of speed. Lauren rides her like a pro. They are a top games pair. And Lauren was fun! Which is most important.

Tommy is also a barrel of laughs and fit in well.  His pony was off on Sunday and he stepped up to coach, which ended up working out super well.  We could all hear him yelling instructions from the field which was really helpful.  This was an unexpected and delightful surprise. Tommy used to join us for winter practices but it’s been a while. I almost forgot how much fun he is! I hope he keeps coming out.

Photo credit: M Brown. Lauren in Toolbox.

For our usual three, Jeeter was being a bit different than usual, ducking out on a few handoffs.  This is not his usual, and I think took the three of us off guard completely.  Jeeter has been playing for a little while now so its not something you expect to change.  Although when I thought about it after the fact, he has not consistently played at this level and speed in competition in a while, although it feels like he has.  I am not sure.  Other than that though he was amazing.  He really is a nice horse.  And I think since he is usually so push button it really did shock us that he was not being his usual Mr. Perfect self. Jon was amazing as always. And just as calm and cool, no pressure as always. He really adds a nice presence to the collective team attitude.

Photo: M Brown – Jon in Tack Shop

Babyface was about what was expected, which was to be a little unpredictable (lol).  He still has some “Flintstone” moments where he sort of spins out or runs in place, but these are becoming less frequent with each competition.  His head got in the way a few times when Val went to perform a skill, but not consistently, just on rare occasion.  Which is the thing with playing 50 games over 3 days, there are quite a few chances for “rare occasions” to occur.  But improve he does, with each competition.  This pony.  I just shake my head.  He is becoming one amazing pony. And Val. What can I say. She just pulls it off. She was also our team captain and had to do all our organizing and planning. Which was a bit of work with how scrambled up we were.

Photo: M Brown – Lauren in a Mug race

Poe was his rock star self.  He has been on the field for 5 years now and I would expect nothing less from him.  He was tired by Sunday, but otherwise he was amazing.  I think we over shot the four flag holder on day one when I forgot to add in the “WHOA!” voice command, but otherwise I have no complaints.  Its nice to ride a pony you can trust and depend on and you can just do your job and not worry about.  That’s Poe.  Simple.

Our first few sessions we spent trying to figure out the best orders and who should hand off to who.  I felt like we finally got it worked out by the final session and then Tommy’s pony was off and we had to scramble around again.  But with him being able to yell instructions to us it really did make a difference.  We came second in the first and last session of the weekend and I believe third in the second, third and fourth sessions and finished third over all with cumulative points for all five sessions.

I had a really good time.  I really enjoyed riding with my team.  I felt I did a good job.  I screwed up my pick up in Sword in the fourth (I think) session, but was actually super pleased with my correction, remounting in the ring with the sword to be specific, even if we did loose the race.  And I believe I had to circle for a hand off.  There might be another mistake in there I am not remembering, it all gets fuzzy a week later.  I know I wasn’t always the fastest, which is something I do need to work on; pushing it just a little more, particularly between skills.  I know at some points in the weekend I got sort of too quiet and too calm.  Which is something that I know happens to me, and I tend to go slower and less smooth when I get like this.  I think I was feeling this way Saturday afternoon in particular.  Also A-line timing is not my best skill. I kept hitting it this weekend and having to slow down to take a hand off.  It was killing me.

As always I can’t wait for the next competition!


Lost Bags

July 16, 2018

I checked my duffel bag at the gate in France for the trip home. This was a special duffel I always tuck into my suitcase incase I am overweight on a trip, then I can just toss some my stuff into the bag and carry it on. Easy.

I planned to be over weight this time because I was purchasing a four flag holder, my “big trip purchase”. I put the four flag holder, my empty little backpack (purse), my Dublin river boots, my MGAA jacket and rain coat, my IMGA rulebook, a few clothing items and my very important “brain book” in the duffel with the holder.

My brain book is this small note book I keep in my daily bag and have running lists in, random notes, important information, odd passwords or user info (nothing anyone could decipher or “hack”), etc. It’s what I run my day to day life from and what I use to keep my brain straight.

It’s been a bit of a struggle since this bag has been lost to keep my life smooth and everything in order. Ah, no brain book! And of course I have wanted to play with my four flag holder!

My bag was lost on June 28th. It did not make the transfer in Ireland with the rest of the bags. It was found later that same night, the 28th sitting in Dublin. It sat there for over two weeks. I called the airline many times and was told it was still sitting in Dublin. I did some googling and it appears the baggage belts were broken in Dublin the day we went through and were down for quite some time. I was instructed to file a claim, which I did. It does take 60 days to hear back about that so we shall see what happens with that come September.

I called this morning and was told my bag was on its way to me and I was given a tracking number.

Oh yeah.

And I got home to find it sitting and waiting for me, not much worse for wear.

The bag itself was a prize I won at MGAA Nationals 2011 and a pretty significant piece of memorabilia in itself. It’s a decent little bag too and has held up well with lots of world and local travel. It now as a small rip in the stitching along the top but nothing a little sewing won’t fix good as new.

Hopefully I’ll be able to assemble my four flag holder later this week and put it into action!

UK Trip 2018 – Day 14

June 27, 2018

The last full day of our trip. We admittedly slept a little late, only because last night’s bike ride ran so late. But before too late we were on the metro and headed for brunch before the catacombs.

Might as well share some food photos. This was goat cheese, peppers and bread.


waiting and waiting and waiting for our check so we can leave. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

The line for the Catacombs was really long.

Like 3 hours long. Emma and I ended up waiting in line. The girls took turns going for fruit and ice cream and sitting in the shade. These two photos were taken before they went off in search of food and shade.

But we did finally make it inside.

It started off with some information.

and then you entered the real part where all the bones are.

No flash photography.

I got two shots of the team with the bones.

The photos did not come out great. But I think you get the idea.

They are organized with markers of when and where they are from.

And it just goes on and on and on.

I kept wondering what it was like to be the guy who’s job it was to stack them.

Catacombs video

In the end the team decided it wasn’t that great and they wouldn’t recommend it to others. We asked if it was just because of the wait to get in and they still said “nah, it just wasn’t that cool”. Emma and I both thought it was really neat. But Emma and I both read some of the information (which was in both English and French) and enjoyed the history around it. The kids informed us on multiple occasions they do not like or care much for history. So I can see why this was just not their thing.

Because of their lack of excitement of the Catacombs and everyone’s exhaustion we decided to ask if they wanted to go to the Louvre instead of just taking them there. They all told us flat out “NO” they did not want to go. When asked individually if any of them did want to go, because Emma or I would still be happy to take one, or a few of them every single one of them assured us that NO they did not want to go and to please not make them.

So we agreed to go have dinner on the lawn near the Eiffel Tower and then go home to shower and pack and get a decent. nights sleep for our early departure tomorrow.

I am currently typing this while watching our bags, laying on the lawn, under the tower, while they pick out dinner.

I think we are all exhausted and just plum worn out. It has been two weeks of go go go. And this sudden warm French weather has shocked us after the wet cold Welsh days and nights. I am also currently struggling not to nod off while I type this.


A little fun on the lawn.

And a little fun in a fountain

I realize there are multiple very similar photos of these two but I could not decide which one I liked best.

They are all three memorable photos.

All of us were laughing it up watching them.

And entertained us all.

For the record we were told that playing in the fountains was ok and acceptable. And we witnessed plenty of other people doing the same.

It was a warm day.

We tried for a few typical photos and were not very successful.

Then we did a little last minute souvenir shopping.

And sorbet.

This one is black current and mango with a raspberry macaroon.

Caroline got the traditional flower looking cone.

Exhausted we made our way back to our apartment on the metro, which is dog friendly.

Now we are showering and Netflixing and preparing to pack for our return trip tomorrow.

And this is what our packing explosion looks like in the living room.

So much for an early night to sleep. It’s nearing 1am and we need to be out the door before 8am. So signing off.

Hope this one is better typed than the last few. I write these as I go about the day. So they may go out in segmented thoughts – since that’s how they are written. Yesterday’s I was falling asleep trying to capture their bike ride and had to go back and edit some bad typos this afternoon. I have not had a chance to do that for many of the other posts yet.

I’ll try to find time to reread them soon. For now I am literally typing out thoughts on my phone so that you can have an as updated experience of the trip as possible. I am literally putting in hours of screen time to make this possible.

And now I am rambling. 😊

Good night from France 🇫🇷

UK Trip 2018 – Day 13

June 26, 2018

Today was our first full day in Paris. We ate, saw the Eiffel Tower, ate, walked, ate, did a night time bike tour, ate, did a little light tourist shopping, oh and we ate some amazing food.

The statues are amazing.

I just can’t get enough photos of the goodies in the pastry shops.

Giant tea plate sized meranges.

This amazing work of delicious art here, I just couldn’t leave it behind. It is full of pistachio cream and fresh raspberries sandwiched in a macaroon.

I ate the glorious thing sitting in the shade by the Eiffel Tower. A moment to remember.

It was a warm sunny day and that called for cooling off.

So we dipped our toes in the fountains by the Tower.

Some video fun in the fountain

and a team shot of course.

A quick French dinner before the bike tour.

While Emma and the team went to ride bikes Krista went for a solo wonder and stumbled over this tack store just before it closed. Right in Paris! It was just by the back entrance to the Aston Martin shop.

A little more wondering around, I grabbed some fruit and then took some metro trains back to the apartment. That’s it straight ahead, bottom floor. Not much to look at from out here.

See Santa there trying to climb over the fence?

Very good fresh cherries.

So for my evening, to relax while the girls are out bicycling I am streaming Outlander (which is available on Netflix here) and munching on cherries and meringue. I confess I am not the best of cyclist and knew the team was extremely excited for this adventure. Since Emma was comfortable doing it on her own I didn’t think it was fair for me to struggle along and slow them down. I can’t wait to hear how it went and they promised to take photos for me to include here. Emma texted the cycling part was complete with many near crashes but all were successful and they had moved onto the boat part.

I was just drinking some apple juice and realized it’s made by my employer! Woo! I have already mentioned I work for a French company. It feels pretty darn cool to have grabbed a bottle of juice, having almost drank it all down thinking, “damn good juice” and realize I am part of that company. Yea!

And they are back from the bike tour!

Emma says the girls were as wreckless as ever. Sadie’s chain broke quickly, and they were not interested in the info at the stopping points.

They said it was all busy streets with lots of cars

But they got to stop for ice cream

That it was hectic and Caroline hit a tree while testing out her bike. But we report no one was hurt. Except the lady behind them in the group appeared to be emotionally damaged from the affair.

The trip eventually switched to a boat. Which is reported to be a bit too long.

I am struggling to stay awake while these photos load so we can get this posted tonight before we crash out. Tomorrow has more adventures and is our last day here.

Emma adds – fruit is delicious.

Sadie says – best cherries she has ever eaten.

Fenya says – Fenya decided it was a good idea to run into a curb on her bike. It didn’t end well. It was an attempt to jump the curb. Nope. (She’s ok).

Today was all about bread. We all gained weight and the bike ride didn’t help us out. The bike guide was named Tobias.

Emma listened to the things they saw. Fenya said she listened once.

They saw the park by the Eiffel Tower, and the Tower itself. It was for the worlds fair, for the grand entrance. And Mr Eiffel paid for it with some stipulations and made a ton of money off it.

They also saw the French institute and the Pantheon, Napoleons tomb, they saw the Louvre, Notre Dame, they learned tons of stuff about these places and lots about the French Revolution.

%d bloggers like this: