A Good Evening

October 11, 2019

Here is a quick snap from my hack out on Simon the other night.

Nothing better than some relaxing time with you pony and your dog.

Mid-Atlantic #6 – September 2019

October 10, 2019

This was possibly my favorite competition this year. Good weather, lots of fun with friends, and Possum was good!

I have been saying that I just haven’t figured him out yet. And I think I got some stuff figured out. Yea!

I had a few bumps and a few pretty poor races. But I left feeling good.

Val and Carly stretching Sunday morning.

Mid-Atlantic #5, September 2019

September 23, 2019

For this event we were at a new venue for us; Morvin Park in Leesburg, Virginia. They recently put in some new arenas big enough for us to run a full set of lanes. We used the arena out in by the barns. It is lovely with the lush felt footing and very well maintained. In contrast to the immaculate new rings, the barns are old and out dated and not as well set up as we are used to. Mainly there is no way to drive up to them for loading and unloading. And the lower barns do not have an overhang to protect equipment, but they are located right by the arena and parking and we were lucky and it didn’t rain.

I had high hopes for Possum going into MA5. He was superb at MA4 and three weeks later at the one day pairs. I thought we were past the pony-challenges. But he regressed and spent most of session one trying to buck. I felt like a little kid trying to pull his head up and boot him on. It was very frustrating and somewhat discouraging.

He was much better in session two and was just reserved in speed but no attempts to buck. He did get unstraight a few times in both of the first two sessions. It’s something he is very inconsistent at and that we have been working on at home. This is improving, just slowly.

He was a good boy Sunday for the final session of 15 races. He was moving out some and was straight almost the whole session.

I have not found anything to cause his mood changes. His tack is fine, and I’m taking care to note if anything changes when it comes to gear. I’m also attempting to be consistent in my riding. The only thing I am not excellent at is keeping my vocals consistent. He is a very vocal pony. More than anything I’ve ridden before. Yelling to him seems to get him moving more than kicking or using my seat by a long shot.

His attitude also doesn’t seem angry or unhappy. He has been eager to go out and seems to really enjoy playing. He is an easily bored pony and I think he enjoys the mental stimulation of games. He also seems to be comfortable physically and not in any pain or discomfort. So I don’t feel he is reacting to an outside stimulus.

At this point I’m in the mindset that he is “pulling pony stunts”. He doesn’t seem to have led a very hard life up to this point and has spent more than his share of time as a privileged pasture puff. He has also tried lots of other “get out of work” stunts for riding, general ground handling, being tied, trailer loading, and the farrier. We have cleared most of these stunts up, although he still needs some ground manners. So progress.

It was a good competition. The team was on and having fun. It was one of the most fun competitions of the year. We finished a strong and tight fourth.

Riptide, the intermediate team I coach was also enjoying a fun weekend with lots of smiles. They are a really fun team to work with that I am super proud of.

Some old games friends also made a return as “Nostalgia”. They have been on a hiatus from games, and most of them from horses altogether, for a solid 10-15 years. They’ve put in some lead up work and they looked great out there and they were tons of fun to play against.

I also got to see Zoe! She’s been out this season and is preparing to move to California so I haven’t seen much of her lately. It was a nice catch up with her and her sister Colie!

Good times!

Video of Session 3 part 1/2

Video of session 3 part 2/2

We were graced with this video taken during session 3 by Carly’s fabulous mom!

Driving Simon – August 7, 2019

August 7, 2019

I hooked Simon up to his cart for the first time in about a year and a half. It went particularly well.

Since it’s been so long I started off by ground driving him for a few minutes with a few Whoas and Stands. Then I attached the cart and walked behind to the field with some more Whoas and Stands.

Next I had him Stand for a solid three minutes before I got into the cart. He was all business and stood like a statue except for a fly stomp.

We drove around the field, wove through poles, did a couple Whoas and Stands, and did some “come around” turns for about forty minutes. I think all of this was very good for his mind. Lots of thinking and a complete change in activity.

I have no driving background or experience and am essentially cowboying it. Today really reminded me that I should get a lesson from a professional. I think I will set one up at the end of the games season. I would like to learn the basics and I also want to make sure Simon is properly and comfortably hooked up. I wouldn’t ride him in tack that didn’t fit so I don’t want to drive him in tack that’s not well fitted either.

I also noted that he seems more annoyed at the blinkers than I think they help. He seemed frustrated when he couldn’t see things. And he seemed more “looky” since he couldn’t look. I think I’ll try him in an open bridle and see if that is an improvement.

The over check also seems to frustrate him. I had it set how a friend had set it originally and when I released it he stretched hard. So I loosened it up and he seemed much happier. I’m not positive he needs it. But he is a fat-butt and may snatch at grass if he doesn’t have it to stop him.

Things to try and lots of things to learn, I’m looking forward to some more driving sessions. I think I’ll do a little googling now and see what info I can absorb.

A Nostalgic Games Practice / August 31, 2019

September 2, 2019

Sunday was back to Woodstock Equestrian in Darnestown, MD for a games practice. This time we were joined by the Nostalgia games team. This team is made up of some older games players that have been away from the sport, and for some, away from horses, for a over a decade (15 years even!). They have joined forces to make a come back at the Mid-Atlantic #5 competition being held in two weeks in Leesburg, VA. The riders have been taking part in practices for the past few months, honing their skills and getting their riding muscles back while learning some of the new races and getting acquainted with the new equipment.

We had a nice group of eleven for this practice and managed to run roughly two to three games at a time rotating through a nice list of games in two hours.

For my own ride I really focused on riding and not getting caught up chatting too much. This is a weakness for me since games practices tend to also be my social time and I am very social. Possum had three weeks off while I was away, he did the one day Pairs right when I got back and a few hacks out at home through the week but he has lost some of his stamina. We went hard for the first hour, moving from lane to lane quickly and he was starting to get tired. I slowed the pace and gave him some rest breaks between races after that but by the two hour mark he was done and was sure to let me know.

I did take note that he did a good job going straight for the first portion of practice but as he started to get tired he was less straight and tended to fall in on myself, and at times felt disconnected from front to back. I feel like this is progress since he used to not be straight the whole time.

This is also the first games practice where I was truly focused on technique with him and not just basic games patterns, staying straight and close but not too close to equipment. Progress! It was a big step up milestone in his training. I worked on harder S turns and cut ins and moving out more for placements and picks since I was gaining a good games check vs just a whoa or an unpredictable amount of check. I also worked on my check and whoa-stand timing and felt I was much closer to where I want to be. I am particularly happy with our association and four flag.

I also put a little work into three mug and did balloon, which he is still shying from on his first real pass. He is fine with balloon at home, and away from home he is fine walking past it and the noise, but he still says on his first moving pass. There is progress with it but it’s still a project. I assume one day I’ll go to do balloon in a practice with him and he won’t shy and it will be a surprise to me. “He got it!”

It was a really fun practice and well worth the drive and effort. I met up with my parents for dinner before driving back home and had a lovely time with them. This made the trip a bit more worth while since a Woodstock practice tends to be a full day event for me with a good solid 5 hours of driving round trip.

Two weeks until MA5! Bring it!

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