STRHA JPR 2018

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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

2018 Mid-Atlantic #1 – Team Gone Rogue

April 23, 2018

My usually competition review got really long so I broke it into two separate posts. This one is about myself, my pony, and my team. The other one is my review of all the other teams, which is probably the more interesting post for anyone that’s not an actual member of my team. That post went live on 4/22/18 and can be found By clicking here.

Saturday kicked off with the first session of Over25 opening the competition at 8am. All in all it was an ok session for Gone Rogue. Nothing fancy but nothing horrible either. We had some bumps and a little sloppiness.

For myself, I managed to pull what I assume is my groin muscle about the third or fourth race in. No major reason, Poe took an awkward step and I must have just twisted oddly and yanked it. But wow, talk about ouch. I sat out the next race and attempted to walk it off, thinking I had just pinched a nerve or something. Sadly that was not the case. This pretty much set the pace for the rest of the competition for me.

It did not bother me much on the ground, or even just sitting on my pony, but when I started out in a race it hurt. Particularly when I needed to brace, brake, turn or perform any skill. Lame. Luckily Poe is amazing and he took good care of me. I used my left arm to brace against my saddle and just rode as gentle and soft as I could. My awesome team was also understanding and we did a few race swaps where possible, but I still managed to ride in most of the races. I wasn’t as fast and my accuracy took a hit, but I feel like I held it together and kept up a mostly clean ride.

After the session I took some Advil and a muscle relaxer which seemed to help.

I started session 2 feeling sore but ok. Of course I yanked my leg again pretty quickly and rode again in awkward conditions. My team is fantastic though and really kept it together. Both Hero and Babyface, our two newer ponies performed excellent. Hero was no surprise, and I was not surprised by Babyface either. Both Matt and Val have been putting so much work into those ponies to get them as ready for the season as possible that their performance was expected. Hero is also an older level headed mount, but Babyface is, well, still a baby. He is easily distracted. To help with this Val has been hosting practices and running multiple lanes in competition format to simulate a competition setting. This effort really showed. Babyface looked like a champ through the first session and although he got a little distracted in session two, Val’s riding is outstanding, and I don’t think anyone would have noticed if they didn’t know she was really working up there.

By the end of session two I was in a lot of pain. Not going to dance around that. The last race was ring the cone, and I really did not want to play. Well I *wanted* to play, but I really should not have and I really did need to sit it out. By that point it hurt to sit up at all and I knew I was pushing myself too far. Val was slated to sit out that race, it being her one and only nemesis, and she offered to step in for me knowing it was the best move for the team. But Averi was not feeling it and said she needed out. So I agreed and I went first. I had a clean passable run, and was heading home when they blew the whistle. The wind was blowing the rings off the poles. Drat. So we reran and my rerun sucked. I got my ring pick but when I got stopped at the cone the wind whipped up and blew my ring off my sword. Fearing that getting back on would really be problematic with my stupid groin issue I attempted to collect the ring mounted, but lacking success, I dismounted. I did manage to remount, although it really did hurt and I am sure I added to the length of my recovery with that one move alone. Sigh.

We did not have as tidy of a second session, with some sloppy mistakes, and my bombing of ring the cone really hurt. Our team’s two flag was rough. I believe Matt was maybe just flying way too fast for his put in and had to circle back for it. I went clean but incredibly slow. Jeeter had some weird freak out about taking a hand off from Hero, which is something new and completely unexpected. By the time Jon got himself and Jeeter sorted, the cone was pretty much under them. Luckily the cone was not knocked over and he was able to make a quick correction. I think Val was a bit taken aback by the extreme speed of Babyface and the cone was past her before she was ready, but again, it was a quick correction. Ugh, not a good race for us. But I guess we got it out at the same time. Bright side!

Earlier in the session Jeeter pulled this freak out at a hand off from Hero thing, and Matt seemed so shocked he just kept on coasting past like it had been a clean hand off. It was such a weird situation and one that needs to be worked on. Both Jeeter getting over his Hero aversion and our reaction time to corrections. We made a point after two flag to not have Matt hand off to Jon. But our usual quick corrections seemed to remain off for the rest of the competition.

Our Three Pot wasn’t bad though, and we managed to make up for our sloppy two flag skills. We placed third in that session, holding second overall by the skin of our teeth (what a weird saying. Who has skin on their teeth?).

Our final session on Sunday went about as well as our second session. Bottle exchange was aweful, like bad. Matt had a crap initial put down, I believe going way too fast. But he had a nice correction. Those barrels are so close together. Averi was going slow but still had to circle the barrel for her pick up, and Jon, having such a reach, also had to do the same. I’ll admit, that knowing that picking up is a crap skill for me, and not having much of a lean, particularly by Sunday, I was going nice and steady for mine, setting Poe at a steady lope, which is why I managed to make it. I am thankful for my short, and super easy pony. On weekends like this one all these training session really paid off, when I knew I could trust him to be what I needed him to be.

My Hug a Mug turn was poor and I did not feel balanced enough to lean for my pick while bracing with my left arm without letting Poe fall into the barrel and take it out so I had to circle the barrel. Again, I wasn’t the fastest. I know I lost us a place or two coasting during the straight aways in races. This was very frustrating because it’s something I had mentally worked on all winter, push push push. In one race in particular I did try to push home some and as a result ended up with my head down and my steering compromised during my handoff to Jon. Ah, it was close and I know I gritted my teeth anticipating some concussion, but luckily Jon was moving out enough to prevent this. It’s nice playing with some solid players. My last race for the competition was Four Flag. Val made the suggestion I do an outside turn vs my normal inside turn so it would be easier on my leg. This was a good call. This was a nice race for us. Smooth.

Flag Fliers finished us out and I sat out of that race. It started with a wonky put in at the end, following by a second wonky put in that went down and the race just stumbled on from there. It’s one of those races that a really good first placement is crucial to set up the rest of the placements.

A little sloppy, some silly mistakes, slow recoveries, a little too much coasting and not enough pushing, and me just rolling along slowly like a Sunday stroll. We finished, I believe, fourth in the third session, and third overall. Not bad all considered. I am happy with out unit, but we have some work to do. I don’t like to pick on each of us, but that’s how we improve.

Analyze and practice.

And generally I know all of us can do better and we each just need the reminder.

Collectively we all need to tighten it up some. Nip in some skills. Maybe look at some orders vs just planning outs. Some of us are clearly better at starting, going last or holding up the middle in different races. We need to remember when to use some haste, like in mistake corrections, and when to check up a tad to get a clean skill. And push, look home and push. No more coasting. Coasting cost us a lot of placings. Mostly on my part this weekend. And more communication. I know I was nice and vocal with Poe this weekend but I don’t think I talked to my team much. Which is not the norm for me. More encouraging “good job!” And “nice run!” And reminders, “set up your turn”, and “push all the way home”. I was way too focused on myself and not there enough for the team.

I am super impressed with both Hero and Babyface. Babyface in particular. I know Val gets frustrated and I know she is working so so hard up there. But he is coming along so nice. And he has so many more gears she has not even tapped into yet (thank goodness). That pony is so rich in potential. And she is bringing him on right. I know it’s hard but she’s making it happen and she still pulls off these moves that are so incredible. And did I mention Babyface is huge too?

Jon also always has and always will impress me. He is the calm and level. Pretty easy going and pops out these insightful notions that leave me wondering, “how the heck did I never notice that before?” He is on another giant horse, and I don’t know how he pulls off his mounts. Jeeter is still moving and Jon has his foot in the stirrup and is just up and flying home. It’s quite impressive. He also has an incredible reach from up there that I am not sure how he works out. We need to keep it in mind too. Although he is pulling off some super human feats, he is not granted go-go-gadget arms.

Matt brings a lot of dedication. He really does practice and work hard, going to the gym on days he’s not riding. He takes it seriously. And I really like him on Hero. I think he is still relaxing into his groove on him, sorting out the little things like bitting, but the pony seems so suited to him. Matt is also easy, he will pop into any race in any position, whatever the rest of the team needs. His vaults are solid and he has recovered well from his shoulder injury last summer. This was his first competition back and he was only out to one team competition on Hero last year before he broke himself, I think.

For me I was super disappointed. I have worked all winter on my mounting races and had really psyched myself up all week to kick butt in them. So sitting them out sucked. I rode in almost all of the other races, but I felt like I was hardly performing and I know I really killed my team. Being the super stars they are they did not make me feel bad about that. But it still sucked. I didn’t go out and bomb each race, and really made very few mistakes, but I was really rather slow. I am generally a steady solid player. Clean and steady. So this wasn’t completely out of character, just really slow to the extreme. And I know I cost us. And that really wicked Adrenalin rush that comes with a sweet clean race just wasn’t coming since I wasn’t getting those wicked smooth races. They were more cobbled together, limped through mediocre practice runs. But that’s ok. It was just one competition.

I don’t intend to sound like I am beating myself up, crap happens. I am recognizing it and moving on so I can kill it more effectively at the next competition.

It’s been just over a week and I am still sore just sitting and walking. Stupid stupid thigh. I was hoping to ride this past weekend but since I was still sore I decided to play it safe and keep my feet on the ground. I have four more weeks until MA2 to be fully healed so I am going to wait a little longer before I mount back up. I keep running over in my head some things I want to work on. And my practice field is set up and calling my name. “Krista, come play!” But it’s got to wait. I am going to try for Wednesday or Thursday. And maybe wrap my thigh like Cindy told me to for session 2 and 3 (and I literally waived her off – I should have listened to you Cindy).

And again I want to reflect on Poe. Sometimes I get bored with him. He is a fully made games pony these days. And I must say I feel like I did a damn good job training him to be one fine competitor. He has a smart level head and a cool demeanor. He knows “stand” and “wait” and he listens. On weekends like this past one when I was not fully myself, having a pony like him was nothing but aces. All of the work, and there was a LOT of work, that went into his training, came out and proved itself. I could trust him and I could depend on him and he took care of me. And yeah I could probably slack off on his fittness and he probably doesn’t need to be put through as much practice now as I put him through, but doing all of that really pays off.

In the end you earn what you get. If I half assed my training and his training all winter then last weekend would have sucked a lot more for myself and Poe as well as for my team.

And now, bring on MA2!

Virginia Horse Festival – Mounted Games 2018

March 25, 2018

This weekend was the fourth Virginia Horse Festival held at the Meadow Event Park on Doswell, Virginia. Meadow Event is known as the birth place of secretariat and the original birthing stalls still stand today for touring. This is a nice facility with an open and airy 142 stall barn, 4 outdoor arenas and one covered arena. The festival is three days, with demos and clinics going in all of the arenas and vendors in the convention hall.

The first two years we had a demo, and last year I came and did the Cornerstone trail challenge and an obstacle challenge. Lots of fun. This year MGAA was invited back to do a demo and a clinic and we also had a booth. My usual teammate, Matt organized it all, which is a lot of work. He did an awesome job.

Matt put together three teams of riders from different divisions and levels, which shows our variety. And we raced through about 11 races showing our sport. You’ll notice in the photos, Hero Kids donated shirts in colors to represent the Police, Armed Forces and EMS for our teams to ride in. We even had little Dexter on leadline taking part and being helped along by his fabulous “driver” Leigh Anne.

We started off warming up around the ring while our wonderful equipment crew got us set up. I talked about Mounted games and MGAA over the PA during this time. Then I handed the mic over to Leigh Anne who continued to talk to the crowd, explaining what we were doing, all while leading Dexter. She did an amazing job and didn’t even sound winded.

After our hour of races we switched to clinic mode and had four clinic riders come in on their own mounts. Each one was paired up with a rider. Leigh Anne hoped on my pony Poe and paired up, Kenzie on Simon paired up, Matt on Hero and Virginia on her Buckskin. So each clinic rider had their own personal instructor and partner. John set up several races and each pair took turns going through the races.

Meanwhile I spoke to the crowd about Mounted games and MGAA and narrated what the riders were doing. Some of our remaining riders went to the sides and took questions and talked to interested parties one on one.

It seemed to go very well. Our clinic riders were all extremely successful with amazing horses. I was highly impressed with all of them.

After the riding was complete we headed over to the booth and talked to some more people about games for the afternoon and evening before heading home.

It was an excellent day. Good weather and wonderful people. Bring on the games season! Two weeks!

Snow – finally

March 22, 2018

Yesterday we finally got some snow. The first real snow in the past two winters. So I attempted to play with the ponies. It’s been so long I forgot how bad the snow balls up in shoes. So riding Simon sucked. I imagine it was like a horse doing the “big lick” with the wooden block shoes.

I felt like Simon was a good hand taller. The wind picked up and the snow really started to come down hard too and Simon started to get cold so we called it a super quick ride. It was really coming down so I decided I needed to call it quits too and finished my chores and went in.

Today I went out and played with Poe.

We lunged and then did some flat work. Boring but necessary. He is barefoot so no snowball feet. I did not remember to snap any photos of him.

The snow was melting like any spring snow does and will probably be gone by the end of tomorrow. Which is cool. I wish the trails would clear as fast. I would have liked to spend Sunday and Monday riding the mountains. But I don’t think that will happen.

And just a few snaps of the snowy day yesterday.

Trail Report: Yankeetown/Marshall Run 235

March 19, 2018

Yesterday was gorgeous so Carol Ann and I slipped out for a quick spin at Yankeetown. Yankeetown is the name of the road. There is a circle at the end, paved, that can be parked around the edge of. I usually reserve this one for when the fire roads are a little rough in the winter but that didn’t really happen this year.

The fire road entrance is 235 Marshall Run and is just a few yards up the road from the parking. Cars and trucks can drive onto this fire road and park farther down it but it’s not as hospitable for horse trailers and the added bit of the ride is nice addition.

I completely forgot to run my tracker but the loop is about 12 miles I think. Maybe a little less. Quite a. I’ve ride, open easy fire road in, behind a gate, over some creeks, some closed fire roads, some forest trails. Some climb up and some descent down. A nice variety of footing.

The trail was nice and clear, it’s a very well maintained loop, thank you trail workers. I rode in a t-shirt. We got in some good trotting and it was just lovely.

I didn’t remember to take photos other than one after I got Simon off the trailer and before I climbed on.

The games season is about to blow up and trail riding is about to get harder to fit in.

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