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.

April Fools Pairs 

April 3, 2017

Saturday I loaded up the ponies and headed to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in West Virginia for a two session fun day of mounted games.  

Because it rained like mad all day Friday, the arena was flooded.  It seemed like this happened at every competition last season and I know we are all hoping for a bit better conditions this season.  So hopefully this is not starting us out for a wet sloppy season.  Never the less, the games go on.  (And we do need the rain)

I brought Simon for Kelsey, with this her first competition. She did wonderful with her partner Katie.  It’s thrilling to see riders new to the sport loving it and having fun.  

I rode Poe in session one with Val and her new ride, Babyface. Now Poe, was his typical Poe-self.  I let him totally pick his speed, a little concerned about the uneven, flooded, and rutted footing. He was careful and slow to start, taking his turns at slow-mo speed.  He did pick up his game as the session went on but didn’t put out much effort until the second session.  But really, Poe and I were slowwwww.   I did school the inside turns on 3 mug and am quite happy with how it worked out.  Although I completely spaced on doing inside 4 flag turns. Duh Krista. 

Babyface was excellent and very impressive for being new to the sport.  That pony is just going to keep becoming more and more amazing.  Val kept him in the ring for the heats between ours to keep his buddy company while someone else rode her, so Babyface ended up doing 4 heats in the day.  Although the two were just walking and trotting, he didn’t get to take a time out like the other ponies.  There was less chance for him to decompress and digest what he just learned.  Which makes him even more impressive.  

I rode the afternoon session with Lindsey and her pony Will.  He is starting his second season of games, although he didn’t get out much last year.  He has made massive progress and truely seems to enjoy playing. He still gets a bit anxious when left alone waiting for his turn, which lessens greatly each time he gets out.  

Val and I won the first session, and Lindsey and I finished third or fourth in the second session.  

I love these fun simple competitions.  It’s a great opportunity to work on some skills and try some stuff out in a competition setting.  There are some things you just can’t practice in a practice setting.  Thank you to the organizers for hosting.  

Everyone in all the heats rode well and seemed to have a good time.  There was time to chat and catch up with friends and it’s so good to see everyone after the winter.  

Lindsey, Matt and I decided to grab linner (lunch-dinner) at Panera afterwards and stretched it into a good chat.  It’s hard when all your best-people are games friends who do not live local.  


Photos by: Lindsey M 

Edited to add the photos below: K Hecker

ETS Obstacle Course – VA Horse Festival 

March 27, 2017 

On Saturday I went to the Virginia Horse Festival in Doswell, VA at the Meadow Event Park.  I rode Simon in the morning in the Performance Trail Challenge.  Then i walked around with Ellen, checking out the vendors which were more plentiful and better than in the past.  Woo! 

Then it was time to tack up for the afternoon event Simon and I had entered.  This was a trail obstacle course put on by Equine Trail Sports to benefit the Central Virginia Horse Resecue.  There were 8 obstacles put up in the arena with a judge at each one.  For each obstacle you selected which level you wanted to perform, one, two, or three.  Each level was more challenging but was also weighted for a higher score.  

The video included in this post is of the first five obstacles.  My phone memory ran out before I got to the last three.  

The first obstacle I attempted level 3. Ground tie and pick up all four feet.  Simon took a few steps. Wah wah.  

The second obstacle I also attempted level 3.  Weave through the balloon bags at a trot. This trusty mounted games pony that does a lot of pole bending and balloon popping found the flutter Mylar balloons to be a little scary so we did a nice wide weave and he skittered away from the final balloon. 

The third obstacle I attempted level 1. But I probably should have gone for level 2.  In this obstacle there are three barrels with a pile laid across two of the barrels.  Level 1 requires the rider to lift one end of the pole and walk it over to the third barrel while keeping the other end of the pole on the middle barrel.  Easy peasy.  Level 2 requires the rider to pick up one end of the pole and riding a full circle to replace it in its original spot at a trot.  Level 3 was at a canter.  

Obstacle 4 was simple.  Three bags spread out in a row down the arena.  For Level 2, which is what we did, start off at a trot at the first bag, pick up a canter just past the second bag and continue past the third bag.  Done and done.  Level three was canter to the second bag and do a flying change.  

Obstacle 5 is the last one on the video and it was bad. Like bad bad.  I ride Simon to the mailbox and pick up our mail about twice a week.  And he usually side passes all over the place but for this obstacle he really wanted to side pass the opposite way I was asking him to.  So we were all over the place.  Then as we were nearly finished the gate person called me over.  You can see it in the video.  She thought the other horse in the ring was about to finish and head in my direction and she didn’t want anyone to be spooked or hurt.  

So we continued onto the 6th obstacle.  This one was also not lovely and I would like to have been able to see it.   It was one of those black plastic garden tubes that you can put at the end of down spouts.  But this one was much larger, maybe a foot or 18 inches high.  I attempted level 2.  Step over the tube with the front feet and side pass to the right, pause and move on.  The sidepass was actually great this time but Simon was not so sure to step over the tube.  He was looking at it and approaching carefully until his hooves sprayed the front with dirt and it made a noise.  We did step over on after this and side pass off   But the whole obstacle was not pretty. 

And onto the 7th obstacle, the drag.  We judged on level 2.  Collect the rope and shorten it up to the mark, drag the ball to a mark and drop the rope.  So that went great and I racked on level 3 at the end with included a turn on the forehand and then drag the ball towards us.  Again, it went great.  Since dragging things has been a chellenge for Simon all along I was exceptionally proud of him.  

And the final obstacle was something entirely new to me. “Emergency stop”.  We did level 3 and I think we kicked butt at it.  We cantered o the mark and did a one rein stop (not one hand, one rein).  Then canter back and do a one rein stop with the other rein.  Woo! 

I am still waiting to hear how we did.  I was so worn out and it was quite a drive so I wanted to head out rather than wait two or three hours.  I did really enjoy this challenge and I like the ability to select which level I wanted to attempt at each obstacle.  It makes it possible to be successfully as you and your horse train up your skills.  I was proud of Simon and I. Yea! 

Again I was also surrounded by wonderful Rusty Stirrups members and had an excellent time.  Cathy and I chatted a bit afterwards and I am excited to join back up and have some more fun with that like minded group.  

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!  

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