Games Practice 02/25/2018

February 25, 2018

Another good practice. What can I say, they are always awesome. This practice turned out to be small, just Val, Zoe, and myself. But that made it possible for us to whip through a bunch of races.

Today we realized why I kick butt at litter in practice but flick it on occasion in competition. Val noticed it. I do not lean as well as I used to so I do a stop and pick. In practice I let Poe coast up to the litter, lean, stick the litter, lean a bit more, lift, and go. Slow and easy. In competition Poe and I both ride harder and we stop short right at the litter, putting me right on top of it. So it’s harder to get the litter out in front of me. And I get one lean, not two. Which is just unnecessary anyway.

Solution, push up to the litter in practice, and just one lean. Be serious.

In competition, pull up a half stride earlier so the litter is out in front of me and not directly below me.

It’s these little things.

Val’s pony, Babyface is really getting some wicked turns. Adding that to his natural speed and he is getting to be crazy amazing. His hi low turns today were so on. Really impressive. And Val was vaulting that tall drink of bay steed like she was still some 18 year old kid. Crazy. Crazy.

Zoe’s new pony, Dice is coming along so fast. He was at his first practice two weeks ago, and I believe it was only her second ride on him. She has clearly gotten in quite a few more rides because he is toning up already. She also managed a few practices since then and the pony is a natural. Zoe took him through balloon for the first time and the pony didn’t flick an ear or anything. Zoe found a good one I think.

Today was also Daisy’s first trip back out since her surgery. She gets to run around while we set up and again during break down and then chills in the truck while we ride. She was so pleased to get to go out again. It’s been breaking my heart to leave her home while she’s been recovering and weird driving without her.

I didn’t get many photos and only one video clip today.

One group “crazy eye” shot!

Games Practice 02/11/18

February, 11, 2018

Two days ago we had a practice and it was freezing. Today we had a practice and it was nice and warm! Both were fun, but I got to say the warmer temperatures were nicer to the joints.

Today’s practice included three of us from Team Gone Rogue; myself, Val, And Jon, and our friend Zoe on her brand new pony Dice. This was Zoe’s second ride on Dice, and his first time playing games. I think Zoe picked a good one. He hardly batted an eye at anything and he seemed pleased to trot on through everything. I believe I caught his very first race, Twitter, and his second, mug shuffle in the compilation video.

We rocked through quite a few races, trying to hit ones today we didn’t get to on Friday. And since it was warm, we ran through quoits a few times. For me I worked on my leaning in quoits, more for my leaning in general than to actually get the ring out of the bucket in competition. I am very happy with myself for touching the top of the bucket, go me! Val of course was whipping around, grabbing a hoop and in most runs (except the one in the video) slapping that ring over the cone. And Jon, his stirrup is so fast. He certainly challenges a vaulter with this skill.

About half way through practice one of the long horns came running into the indoor and started to toss a trash can around. Jon ran over and closed the gates to our section just before another one ran in. Turns out the cows had gotten loose. We called up to the house and they had them rounded us and back in the field quickly but there was a lot of mooing going on for a while. It made for a rather exciting mid practice break.

Video compilation from practice!

Matt’s Bday Games Practice 2018

February 9, 2018

This morning four of the Team Rogue riders got together in Berryville, VA for practice in honor of Matt’s bday! This was Averi’s very first practice with us and I think she enjoyed it even though we started off early. Early means cold! We all pulled a “Michael Jackson” and rode with one glove (you need the right hand free for equipment handling).

It was a really good practice. We busted through a good array of races including hi low, ball and cone (yep we did it), hoopla, 3 mug, litter, sword, 4 flag, flag fliers, mug shuffle, association, bottle, pony pairs and I am sure a few others. Pony pairs was particularly nice to be able to run through since we had four of us there.

Matt’s pony, Hero was fresh from having some dental work yesterday and seemed to settle down on his head tossing as the practice went along. I worked on pushing Poe up to equipment and not over checking, and we worked on a turn for Babyface. I think Cider was just happy to be out and enjoying himself.

What do the rest of you people in your 30s (ish) do for your birthdays?

Below are some photos of us practicing our “smoldering selfies” which Val recently read about and is instructing is in to jokingly help us all stay young. We are having a lot of fun with it. Clearly we did not follow the instructions with our group selfie. The angle is all wrong.

Bitting Issues.  2017 Part One 

March 22, 2017

Going back about 6 years when I first brought Simon home, in love with my new pony, i had no idea what bitting trials I would go through with the beast.  He had been ridden in a Tom Thumb, which is what I tried him in.  He was ok.  I didn’t mess with his mouth much and was riding him along a road surrounded by ice in the Ohio mountains along the West Virginia boarder.  Not exactly ideal conditions.  Plus he was four years old, coming five with not much more than trail time under saddle although he had driving experience.  

I got home and began the bit trials.  I started with an egg butt.  Nope.  I tried happy mouths, Mullen mouths, jointed, French link, three rings and even Mullen happy three rings.  Nope nope and nope. 

He just did not like tongue and bar pressure.  

I settled with a three ring (and I honestly do not remember what the mouth piece was) as the leverage seemed to help.  I had a running martingale and a flash on him to make it at all functional.  I hated it. He hated it.  I was forcing him to accept something that very clearly made him uncomfortable.  

I was at a competition complaining about his stupid mouth and that I was out of ideas when a friend, Zoe, said hey, I have a Myler combination bit and it sounds like it will work for you.  It works on nose and pole pressure before tongue and bad pressure and the mouth piece is joined in a way so there is no “nutcracker” action.  So I shoved this supposed miracle bit on his face and climbed on.  

It was instant success.  He relaxed, dropped his head and I hardly had to touch his face for a response.  Happy pony, happy rider, I ordered this expensive piece of magic as soon as I got home.  

About a year later, his steering perfected, I moved him into a Little S hackamore and he has been one happy pony since.   I throw him back into the Myler combination bit on occasion when I don’t feel he is as responsive as I like, but generally we go about in his little blue hack and he is a dream.  

Flash forward to this spring.  I signed up to do a horsemanship trail challenge for this coming Saturday.  I am all excited and working on our flying change and dragging the dang log around (which is still proving to be the scariest part for this former driving pony).  On Monday I got an email with my ride time and the general info and rules.  I read through it all and realized that I can’t use his hackamore (no mechanical hackamores) and I cannot ride in my combination bit unless I choose to ride with one hand and not switch hands throughout the course.  (No shanked bits u less you ride one handed).  Well shucks, Simon neck reins just fine, but I am not skilled enough to do all this one handed (and not switch hands!). 

So I tried him in an egg butt on Tuesday.  It sucked.  I was on a trail ride so I wasn’t using much contact (or even holding my reins the whole time) but when I did touch his mouth he was so unhappy.  I needed to back up a few steps at one point and it was almost pointless trying. His tongue was out, his ears were back, and his head was twisted and in all the wrong directions.  

So I stopped at the amazing VTO on my way home. I took his Myler combination bit inside and one of the employees helped me pick out the closest possible bit without shanks.  I ended up with a level 2/3 loose ring.  Nearly the same mouth piece.  


Wednesday I tried the Myler loose ring.  And fail.   Simon bucked multiple times, ears pinned and tongue out.  He backed but it looked so sloppy.  He was unhappy and so was I.  I will say though it was better than he egg butt but still not a success. 


That night I took to Facebook and called on my horsey friends to help.  And my friends did not disappoint. So much amazing information and ideas were shared.  

I quick, Amazon Primed a jumping or hunter hackamore.  This is essentially a nose and with reins on the side.  Think riding in a fitted halter with a lead rope tied on. It comes tomorrow afternoon.  I have ridden Simon in one of these many years ago.  When I was ready to move him out of his Myler combination I borrowed one of these jumping hacks and an English mechanical hackamore from my friend Linda to try.  Simon liked the simple jumping hack but I get the English hack was a but better.  And in the end I ordered him the Little S that is his normal bit.  I am hoping to be able to ride him in it when it comes in the mail to see what I think.  


I was also offered to borrow my friend Dale’s Indian Hackamore. Unfortunately this particular hack is not allowed (no rope) for the even this weekend but I could see Simon liking it so I swung by his place and picked it up today and gave it a spin this evening.  


(Photo compliments of Dale) 

It has a mixed review.  I do think it is, at this point in the trials, the best option, although it’s not allowed.  But Simon was a little strong in it.  For walking and trotting we were good.  But when I had him pick up a canter he got a little excited and may have galloped away with me for a few strides.  He is super responsive to seat and legs so I tend to be very light with my hands with him but he still got me for a few strides.  Then he realized he could graze pretty easily and I started to feel like a little kid in need of grazing reins.  


I am going to ride in this again and I would like to take him on a trail ride with it.  And I actually wonder what Poe will think of it.

Also in retrospect I think I should try lowering it on his nose a little.  Looking at the photo above I think it might be a tad high.  

The Facebook post also got suggestions of the Dr Cook bitless bridle.  There were mixed reviews of these some people raving and some people less than impressed.   This morning I noticed a response in favor of these contraptions from Sam at the other semi local tack shop, Mad Tack.  Samantha has been super amazing and I totally value her opinions.  You may remember about two years ago I was having saddle fitting issues with Poe and she fitted him in a saddle and I love it and ride in it still.  She worked easily in my price range and was just amazing.  When I called to see what they had in stock she said, bring your pony here and we will get you sorted.  And she has been nothing short of amazing since then. 

So anyway, back to the topic, I called Samantha today and we talked and I am taking Simon in tomorrow to fit in him a bitless and give it a go.  Since they work on pole and nose pressure which I know he likes, it’s just if he is cool with the jaw pressure.   I am very hopeful that he will like this contraption and that it might be even more effective than his Little S.  

I’ll be reporting back with an update in part 2 soon!  

Trail Report: Bluehole Top Loop 

March 20, 2017

Today I went back to Bluehole (big surprise) and I found a second loop, and I love it.  It is such a nice ride.  I need to figure out a tiny part towards the end still but it’s an awesome loop. 


I started out on the main road in. I rode past the logging areas and made the first major left to follow Grove Hollow.  I stayed on this even though I was super tempted to check out some of the side trails until it came to the three way fork.  The left is for the shorter loop.   It is through logging areas and has amazing views.  To the right is a lesser pronounced trail, more of a 4wheeler path.  I have not gone this way yet.  

I went straight.  It wraps around and past some more logging, and eventually sort of loops around to the left into more of a field with an older looking 4wheeler type of trail through some fields.   This part is not marked on my gps tracker. 

It keeps going along the ridge, in and out of clearings, with a view of the road a ways off to the right.  It is a nice clear trail, hardly anything down, no branches in the way, pleasant and smooth.   I really enjoyed this stretch of the ride.  It eventually came to a private property sign, and I stopped.  

Looking at the my gps tracker I could see the shorter loop was running somewhat parallel to the left at this point and not too far away.  I opted to cut down through the woods, which were rather clean and easy to navigate and shortly I popped out on the lower loop trail.  I assume there is an actual connection that I missed or didn’t notice (since I wasn’t really looking for one.).  I am already super eager to go back and mess around with this part of the loop.  

I finished off with the big down hill that is a little hard to see.  I think I followed it better this time.  But I am also eager to go back and mess around with this section as well.  I am so tempted I might go back tomorrow.  

When I was driving into Bluehole a large flat bed passed me going out and when I got to the parking area it was clear that the dude spent some time turning that beast around.  While I was unloading Simon a white SUV pulled past.  I said hello and he told me they were done for the day, and were just dropping off equipment but we be back in there working soon.  So I suppose this will mean the roads are kept up.  

Again super excited to go back here.  This loop is just shy of 8 miles and there are a lot of areas to move out.  Actually almost the whole ride can be ridden with some speed.  All the way until the very end.   I saw some deer, and a small mouse like critter.  There are also quite a few ponds just off the trail.   And a nice little creek side ride at the end.  I also assume the bears are waking up.  I saw a lot of dog spots and freshly scratched up trees, and even some fresh bear poo.  This was mostly in the area where the fireroad sort of ended into a 4 wheeler trail near the first pond.  

I attempted to video a little of this ride, a clip in different parts so you can see the terrain.  Of course I did not think about this for the first two thirds of the ride, which is more prominent Fire roads.   



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