May 5, 2018

Today was the local Judged Pleasure Ride, part of the Crystal Crown Series, hosted by my local trail club, the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horsemans Association. This is my favorite ride for a couple reasons. It’s the closest, it supports my trail club, it’s a nice length, and I also really enjoy the laid back vibe and easy fun feel of the ride.

I have met Val and Zoe here before and we had a blast, and some years this ride has conflicted with Mid-Atlantic #1, which takes precedence. Last year I came on my own and poor Simon was a mess all alone. And honestly, it’s not so much fun with no companions. But I was befriended by Andrea and Lacy who were the pair ahead of me on the course. They offered me to join them and I felt like we hit it off. See last year’s blog post for details on that. Click here for it

This year I was going to be headed out on my own again so I reached out and Andrea was also headed out on her own and happy to join forces. Woo! Simon and I met up with her and her big boy Quinn and we had an awesome time today.

Obstacle 1: The Chainsaw Massacre. Stand on a plywood platform and be approached by a chainsaw. When you horse moves the chainsaw is stopped. The closer the chainsaw gets the higher you score.

I was happy with Simon although he gave in quick, he was sensible. This was our lowest score, 4.

Quinn was like a rock! He stood there without a care. I am pretty sure he rocked a solid 10 here.

Although this was my lowest scoring obstacle it was also one of my favorites. It was unexpected and different. I have not seen an obstacle anything like this one before. Pretty neat.


Obstacle 2: Off Side Mount. Have your horse step their front legs over the log so they are straddling it. Dismount, leave your reins, walk around behind your horse to the off side, and remount.

This went well. Simon did great. I was a little sloppy but I still managed to remount from the offside way better than I expected. Score: 10

Quinn was a goof here. He walked off when Andrea went around him, like “haha”. So she reattempted and he did this silly jump to heave his front end over. It is so cute. She mentioned he ground ties and in retrospect she should have dropped his reins on the ground.

I liked this Obstacle a lot too. Simple but also different.


Obstacle 3: The Gate. The typical rope gate obstacle. Pick up the rope by the knot (not the loop), only use one hand, don’t put it over or under the neck of your horse or let it touch the ground, go through the gate and close it.

Andrea killed this one. I am pretty sure she got a 10. Quinn was so chill.

Simon impressed me here. Last week he was moving so fast on this one and just backed off of it and I had to drop the rope before closing it. I had a moment of confusion at the start deciding which hand to use and switched from left to right at the last second, but all went well except for me letting the rope touch the ground. I believe a judge made the comment that being on a short pony is an advantage on some obstacles but on this one it put my rope closer to the ground. Ha-ha yep. I am super pleased with how this went. Score: 9

This is a classic obstacle and I have no excuse for not having worked on it at home. Note to self – work on this at home.


Obstacle 4: Back up. Back up the hill through the zigzag pole pattern and through the red markers.

We did super well at this. I started off backing up next to the course then started over on the actual course and it went super super well. Like surprisingly well. If we had only started off on course! Go Simon. Score: 8

Quinn was so big for that course. I doubt Andrea could see the poles around his belly. Be tried though and got most of it. I really think there was just a little visual issue because it was really not bad.


Obstacle 5: Soccer. Pick up the broom, use it to push the big ball across the yard and out the end in 60seconds. Re approach if you pass it.

I expected this to go pretty poorly with Simon’s weird aversion to big balls but it went surprisingly well. He was a bit quick, and we had to re approach once, but we finished in 30 something seconds. He was apprehensive of the ball. And it was heavier to push than it appeared. Score: 10

Quinn was doing ok but Andrea accidentally bopped him in the head with the broom and then he was audibly upset with the broom, snorting and all. But he was actually pretty good for being unhappy. He did bust out the side of the course, but all in all was reasonably “freaked out”. He did not care about the ball. And Andrea mentioned he eats brooms normally so I assume he was just that offended at being accidentally bopped by it. Reasonable. Andrea did get the ball half way across which was a decent feat.

This was another cool obstacle. I really liked it.


Obstacle 6: sidepass mailbox. Step over the rail on the left hand side by the flag, side pass along the rail to the right, open the mailbox, remove the box and hold it over your head, shake it, return it to the mailbox and close it. Side pass back to the left along the rail.

This was our second worse obstacle. Not a bad obstacle set up either. And Simon is a good lateral mover. He was rather concerned about that flag, which is just silly, and too busy looking at it to focus on what I was asking. So he backed off the rail instead of side passed. Score: 5.

Quinn is not a lateral mover and you have to watch him on the video it’s so cute. Andrea is trying to move him over and he just stands there like a rock. He also stands like a rock for the mailbox. Such a good boy.

This was a good obstacle but eh. I don’t have a good reason to not love it accept we didn’t do well at it. And it was a pretty typical one so we should have done well. We have side passed to and from mailboxes before. Maybe that’s why it was meh. Been there done that, but did it better before. I guess they can’t all be winners.


Obstacle 7: The Tire. Walk through the tire. The tire was filled with bottles.

Quinn yet again killed this one. He just marched on through like a champ. Done and done. I am sure he got a solid 10.

Simon was a bit apprehensive but listened. He was not nearly as smooth as Quinn. Score: 8.

You know, this one was cool. There are only so many things you can do with a tractor tire and this was cool. Simple and cool.


Obstacle 8: The Tunnel. Ride through the tunnel.

Quinn walked on through. Simple and perfect. Beasted.

Simon also crushed this one.

I believe we both got a 10.

Probably too easy but I liked it. I think this would be a good #1 obstacle to get them warmed up.


Obstacle 9: Step Up. Ride up the steps.

Quinn killed this one too. It’s a crap video but I am sure he walked off with a 10.

Simon ducked a bit on the second step but nothing too bad. Score: 9.

This is a cool built in obstacle and this is the only place I have seen one. We have gone down it once before too.


Obstacle 10: The Pond. Get into the pond, pull in the whale. Keep your horse in the water until the whale hits the water.

Quinn did so well at this one. He is such a solid boy. He really did a great job at this one.

Simon did so much better than I expected. He really wanted to run but he held it together until just when that whale hit the water. This was such an improvement for him and any type of dragging. I am super proud of him. Score: 8

A challenge. I like this obstacle. They always have something here and it’s always a challenge. But it’s always a good one.


I had so much fun with Andrea and Quinn. We chatted the whole time and it was so much fun. I felt completely at ease and myself and I think she did too. And Simon loves Quinn. He was constantly nose bumping him and giving him sniffs. Quinn was such a calming body for Simon to be with and a had a similar pace too. Two cute ponies.

I hope to ride with Andrea and Quinn again. ūüėä

Finding the Right Hay-Guy

October 31, 2014

When I was a kid, my mom took care of acquiring hay for the ponies.  She had herself networked through our Pony Club with deliveries from another member.  She would leave a check in the hay room, they would leave a receipt  with the hay.  Easy.

When I moved my ponies out with me, several hours away, I needed to find my own hay source.  Being thrifty (read Рcheap), I spent several years bouncing around trying out different hay sources.  Some were good, some not so much.  One year, when it was a really bad hay year and diesel prices were particularly high, pushing hay to record high prices in the area, I made a few treks to the local hay auction.  There would be trucks and hay wagons with varying quantities and types of hay ranging in quality.  People would bid, and the winner took the hay.  Sometimes I got lucky and wound up getting bales for just over $2 a pop (when it was generally running closer to $5/6 a bale, if you could find hay at all).  Sometimes it was closer to $4 a bale.  One time the hay sucked, but I was desperate.  I would find crushed soda cans and tumble weeds after the ponies finished off a bale.

Two years ago I got lucky and a friend called and said her friend had a load of hay in their trailer they needed to get emptied out that day.  They needed to use their trailer to take a sick cow to the vet.  They were willing to bring the hay over and help me unload it for a ridiculously low price.

One spring the neighbor delivered me a round bale, which the ponies loved.  But it was not convenient for travel.  Although I liked it for home feeding.

When that hay ran out I decided it was time to acquire a real hay guy with some consistency.  Over the years people had recommended two people.  One was an older gentleman that lived near me, who had rather high prices on his hay, and was a little gruff and not to the most pleasant person to work with.  The other was also close to our house, with similarly high prices and very easy to talk to on the phone.

So I picked the second guy, lets just call him Jerry.¬† Now Jerry is a character, big smile, puffy hair, super friendly and helpful.¬†He was just as¬†happy to help me load up 20¬†bales to get me through¬†travels¬†for competition¬†season, as he was to help me stock my¬†barn with hay for the winter.¬† And Jerry, the dude knows hay.¬† And he is really into hay.¬† He wants to know what you are feeding to start off.¬† For me, that’s two sport ponies.¬† Then he wants to know what they like and don’t like.¬† Do they prefer a finer cut, or a thicker stalk, and he recommends second cutting for ponies.¬† But he also suggests you look at his hay before you make a decision.¬† This man is a hay aficionado.

Jerry is a little harder to get ahold of than hay-guys I have used in the past.¬† Sometimes it takes him a few days to call back.¬† So I don’t wait until¬†I have¬†two¬†flakes left.¬† I also make sure I¬†schedule some time when¬†I go to pick up hay. Jerry is not grab and go farmer. He has a few minutes to chit chat about music and local happenings, and he is easy to hold a conversation with.

When it comes to quality, Jerry’s hay is excellent. Since I am feeding ponies I don’t want anything high test, none of that flaky alfalfa green. I want clean and dry with a fresh smell. My ponies nibble up each and every stalk of Jerry’s hay, and there’s not a crushed soda can to be found either!

This summer we moved across the county, a good 45+ minutes from Jerry. I called a few other hay-guys out near our new home, but in the end I went back to Jerry, and made the trek across the county.  Quality hay from a dependable source is worth it.



Fair Hill International 2014

October 28, 2014

October 18, Zoe and I went to Fair Hill for the FHI CCI** and CCI*** cross country. It was an early morning and a late night for me, but it was totally worth it, and Zoe was the perfect person to share the adventure with.

We packed up a backpack, my camera with the ~new lens~ and Daisy Dog, and headed out. We arrived, parked and took the shuttle bus over and into the park just in time to watch the Pony Club President‚Äôs Cup competition. It was an exhibition competition of the top four placing teams in the senior division at Pony Club Championships in July, and was held next to the vendors. The arena was surrounded by MGAA Jackets worn by MGAA members and we settled down with Wendi, Bonnie and Devon and took in the games.

I think this was particularly interesting for Zoe, who grew up in California, and not part of a Pony Club making this her first Pony Club games experience. We were reminded that in PC you cannot cheer using riders’ names or give instructions during play. We had to keep our big mouths shut which was a challenge. They played 20 races, back to back, which is not typical pony club style. They played some races that were usual for MGAA competitions like mug shuffle and high low, but they also played ones that are not part of MGAA like egg and spoon and ball and racket. I was surprised to not see a single rider loose an egg, but there were balls all over the place in the latter.

When the Pony Club games were done we checked out the vendors. There were not that many, but we still found some interesting things to look at. We picked Daisy up a new heavier blanket by Weatherbeata for the colder winter months. It came complete with a belly guard and pop up neck collar. We had some crab cakes and crab soup and then headed down to one of the water combinations to catch some of the CCI** cross country.

We got to see Marilyn Little, who rode with my sister in Frederick Pony Club when they were kids, take on the water complex, as well as an array of other top of the line riders.  Later, during the CCI*** we saw one of my old teammates, Colleen Rutledge clear a nice combination.  It is really exciting for me to follow these former allies in their equestrian careers.  Colleen in particular, since we spent so much time traveling internationally and riding on mounted games teams together for the US in the 1990s.  I recognized Colleen coming over the hill from her position alone, and as she drew closer, by her red flushed face.

Zoe and I moved around the course, taking in different sections.  There were three water complexes, which are always thrilling to watch.  We saw one horse pulled up by his rider, and pulled from the course.  He was nearly complete but seemed to have pulled up lame after clearing a fence.  Some of the fences and combinations were more challenging than others.  We saw quite a few awkward  efforts on the particular combination we caught Colleen on.  And we were very impressed with how Colleen flew through the section, making it look smooth and easy.  There was one lady rider on a gray about midway through the CCI***, we were unsure who it was.  We watched her come out of the first water combination with such skill and a determined look on her face.  Zoe commented that she was a rider ‘out for business’ as we watched her race away and down one of the gallop lanes to the next fence on the course.

It was extremely exciting.  Zoe and I stayed until the end, managing to catch up with quite a few friends we were not expecting to see.  On the way home we stopped at Ihop for some much needed sweetness.


boyd 01

Boyd Martin

Liz Riley

Liz Riley


Colleen Rutledge


Marilyn Little

Allie Sacksen

Allie Sacksen

alexandra knowles

Alexandra Knowles



2014 Mid-Atlantic #5

October 17, 2014

Last weekend was the last big competition of the 2014 games season.  We ended with the 5th competition in the Mid-Atlantic Series, at the PG Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  The weekend started off rainy and cold, which seems to be the annual forecast for this competition, but it cleared up Sunday and ended with sunny skies.

The facility had recently redone the drainage under the footing in one of the two arenas we use, and it was amazing and we were lucky to be in that arena for two of our three sessions.  They have a felt/sand mix, and with the new drainage, there was no standing water or mud.  Amazing footing.

Saturday morning started off the first session.  We played 11 races, and I was not on top of my game.  In Twitter race, I checked too hard and had to circle my cone for a placement, then I scooped and tossed my litter, more than once.  Luckily it was not enough to crush the race completely.  Later in the session, I had a hand off error to Averi.  I think it was a litter stick, or possibly a flag.  I felt like it was a clean hand off, I turned around my two team mates still waiting for their turns, and pulled up, before I noticed the drop.  It was also a little out of character that no one was jumping up and down yelling.  Old School is generally a pretty vocal team.  The whole session was a little quiet for the whole team, me included.  I suppose we were all still asleep.

The final¬†race of the session was Ring the Cone.¬† Which is normally a pretty decent race for me.¬† I collected my ring, and rode to the C line to “ring the cone” and did not lean over enough, and with it being a metal ring instead of plastic, there was no wiggle room with this.¬† Down the ring went.¬† I tried to lean and scoop, although the excellent footing I remarked on above did not leave any space to really get my sword under the ring, and I just managed to flick it around.¬† Again, and again and again.¬† Nauseatingly, over and over.¬† I was anxious to get off, because I was afraid I would not be able to get back on, particularly with the sword in tow.¬† l eventually decided I had no choice as the ring flicked closer and closer to the fence marking the end of the arena.¬† But as I suspected, remounting was not happening.¬†My saddle was shifting, I had too many things in my hands, Poe wouldn’t stand still, and panic had long set in, you know,¬†back when I was whacking the ring all over the place.¬†¬†Zoe was on Line C as an assistant referee and offered repeatedly to hold Poe, which is not allowed.¬† But it was still tempting.¬† Then I heard Dave yell “use the fence”.¬† Well Duh.¬† So I balanced the sword on the fence and climbed on, to a shameful feeling, but well-meant¬†applause.¬† Dave meant for me to use the fence to mount from, but just having my hand free made the difference.

I had started this race as our first rider and at this point I was the ONLY rider on the field.  Nice.  All the other teams were done.  I went to the cone, ringed it, and finished at the A line.  I destroyed that race like a champ.  What a bad session for me.  The rest of my team was pretty much on, so all fault for that session, was on me.

I regrouped over the lunch break, and returned for the second session with my game face back in place.  It was a rather good session for the entire team, and we also seemed to have woken up and were talking and cheering for each other more normally.

While untacking¬†at the end of the session the announcement was made that we were part of a tie with Red Solo Cup, for the last slot into the A final.¬† The run off would be first thing in¬†the morning, before the start of the B final.¬† The tie breaker was Flag Fliers, and we joked that we would be practicing with headlamps on all night long.¬† In the morning we assured ourselves we would have more fun, “yeah more fun!” in the B final, and we went in for the win.

I started the race and had a good run, staying mostly stride for stride with Matt, which is who started for Red Solo Cup. Averi went out, and gained a tiny lead on Sarah.¬† Next was Carol Ann on¬†Zeke, aka White Lightning, who grew that lead, and that’s what Red Solo Cup cracked, and knocked their cone.¬† Kim finished our end up with a nice steady run, and we cleanly won the tie breaker and the slot in the A final.¬† Then we all agreed, we were much happier in the A final.

We returned to the arena a few hours later, and enjoyed a nice laid back session.  Linda encouraged me to take part in Bottle Shuttle, which I had been feeling insecure about.  I rode in the third position, and over checked for my placement, but got it nice and clean.  It was a nice confidence boost and I am glad Linda encouraged me to do it.  I also went in High Low and completed my turn cleanly.  Go Me!  The whole team rode nicely, and we ended our season on a pretty good session, finishing 3rd in the competition.  We also managed to finish 2nd in the series.  This was only possible because Border Patrol had a rough start to the season and missed one of the competitions.

This competition was also the last one for me with team Old School. In a way it’s the end of an era for me, having ridden with Old School for the past six years, and for my entire tenure in this adult’s only division. Although my move was not a surprise change is still difficult. When I made the decision for this to be my last year with Old School, I felt we had shifted our focuses in different directions and it was hurting our friendships. As stated before, I made the decision to leave Old School to hopefully maintain the relationships I had developed with my teammates. I still think this was a good decision, and I am very much looking forward to a fresh new season in 2015. I am also looking forward to cheering on team Old School, and I wish them well.

One of the things I do not like about this competition, is that because we run two arenas, and keep the scheduled packed tight, it is almost impossible to see any of the other divisions ride. I got to watch a little bit of the intermediate while waiting to enter the arena and I really enjoyed seeing how the riders had improved since the beginning of the season. I watched Kaja on Buckwild make a mistake, and her on-the-feet quick thinking correction, showed how much she has matured in her game. I was rather impressed. The other girls on Buckwild have really stepped it up too. This team is HOT and I think has a big chance to dominate next season’s intermediate division. I have also been watching Whiplash a lot this year. This is a well put together and practiced team that is ready to move into masters. Bella in particular stands out to me as having really stepped up her game this season, reflecting specifically on her accuracy. Bella, being only one of the riders on a team of excellent players, they have all made a marked improvement this season.

I did manage to catch the majority of the Masters A final. Kimi was filling in on Punk Rock Ponies, and was an excellent choice for the team to pick up. Having watched this rider for the past several years, she is ready to come into her own. She has made marked improvement year by year, and next year is her year to really step out. A young gangly girl, she really handles the big ponies, with the big strides expertly. She is one to watch.  I have also enjoyed watching Colton progress this year. He came back from an injury over the winter, and jumped back into the game. He is one that has made a maturity leap this year, and I look forward to seeing where 2015 takes him. Limitless, who is usually a smooth team that I really enjoy watching, was a bomb in the final. It took nearly the whole session for them to get there pace going and stop making mistakes. This was not their session. Inception took advantage of this and stepped up their game, finishing second. Matt is a rider who has really come along. He entered this season as a strong player, placed on a new team, and kept his game up to par.

I also managed to watch some of the fossil teams when they were riding in a heat opposite myself. Border Patrol. That team has boomed since the start of the season, finishing second at this competition with a huge lead over third.  Next year, watch out, they may very well dominate. The ladies from Canada, Michelle and Lesly, mount their ponies using stirrups so quickly that each time I was left thinking they vaulted. And Ashley, coming back from a games hiatus, is in the game full throttle. Her pony Harley is quick, and you can tell she is putting some time in on the practice field. Combine these three with Dave and Lauren and you have some smooth games with excellent skills and very few mistakes. Time Flies, not to be outdone, is still amazing and took the win. TFs has dominated this year, and you can tell they put the work in to make it happen. Ashly on Pumpkin was a good move and Ann has really brought her home bred Morgan along.

2015 should be a fun year. I am looking forward to seeing who puts in some work this winter, and how all the teams shake out.

Riding photos by M Brown and B Pellet and Brenegan

Fun pics by me with my super awesome high quality iphone

bbrMe and Poe.  10441037_766715050883_8985872943924298880_n

I love a (Val) photo bomb (of Jackie)!  1901990_766715804373_4440436882026665309_nThis was a really bad attempt at spelling out MGAA!  = total fail!


Averi РNeedle and Thread РLauren in the background.  10703702_766715734513_5864555014048454907_n

Zoe and Matt.  10696366_766715624733_4012871058118199658_n

Me and Poe warming up.


Ann with Averi in the background.


Coach Jessie carrying all the riders jackets.



Groppits gave me a shirt as a thank you for lending them Simon all season.






Simon took Devorah’s hat off!



Pony Shopping Terminology – 2013

January 10, 2013

I stumbled over this yesterday and yep, I can really relate.


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