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!

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.  

MGAA Nationals 2015

July 2, 2015

This years MGAA Nationals was at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia.  They set up a huge 350×600 grass arena for us to play in that was right next to the camp grounds.  Not only did this make for excellent spectating, but the riding was awesome on so much grass with so much space.

I rode Poe with my team, Gone Rogue, and we sorted our orders per Val’s suggestion.  It worked well.  With the added challenge of being the anchor rider for many of the races, and the support of my awesome teammates, I really pushed myself to pick up the pace.  Zoe also pulled anchor duty quite a bit, with me handing over to her.  Kristin was our main starter, and she really launched her new to games borrowed pony out there to eat up the field.  Averi and Matt also took a few turns at the start, Sparkles even did an uncharacteristic excited little rear on one of her starts.

There were quite a few very close races, and I just love those types of runs, even when my team doesn’t come out on top.  The top four teams really played around taking turns leading the pack from session to session.  In the end Border Patrol, a four rider, four pony team, trumped us all, taking the blue.  Full Tilt really got their game on for the last session and pulled one point ahead of Time Flies for second, with my team bringing in fourth, followed by Black and Blue Crew and Antiques Roadshow.

I personally felt really good, and back in the game.  I had some stupid, uncommon mistakes that were just pure sloppiness on my part.  I also need a bit of brushing up on my handoffs.  But all in all, I felt very on.  And Poe loved the footing.  Go us!

Nationals is always an awesome competition, with bigger prizes, more races and social activities.  this year we ran five sessions with a total of 54 races.  Interestingly, for Sunday’s 15 race final session, the masters division wanted races cut, but the fossil division almost unanimously did not want to miss a single race.  Nearly all of the races in the last two sessions were sponsored.  We missed out on the best prizes but we still went home with a bucket full of treats and other goodies.  Every rider also got a small tote bag that contained some pony treats, sample supplement, a last-rider-helmet-band, an MGAA logoed Klean Kanteen bottle and a commemorative MGAA Nationals 2015 patch.  Really fantastic prizes!

I skipped the Friday evening trip to Kings Dominion.  The lazy river was pretty tempting, but I enjoyed some down time in the camp grounds with teammates Matt and Zoe before turning in.  The Saturday night party started out awesome.  It was catered by Chipotle with a cotton candy machine too.  Zoe and I played some of the carnival games, enjoyed the DJ and watched some people ride the mechanical bull.  Unfortunately a massive storm rolled in with tornado warnings, rain and wind.  This sort of shut the party down just as it was kicking it up, and although it did continue after the storm passed, it still took some of the flame out of it.

The campsites were fun.  Jeannie picked up a blow up pool and we sat ringside in the shade with our feet in the nice cool pool.  That was probably the best part.  Carl put a pool in the back of his truck with chloride and a filter!  The ice cream truck swung through a few times a day, and we had more food than we could eat.  Oh and did I mention that Wendi kept us stocked up in fresh cold tea?

Nationals is certainly the most exciting competition of the year and this year was no let down.  Now I have to wait a month for MA3 to get here!

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I love this photo.  Its Karl from Northern Ireland riding Mitchell’s pony Cowboy.  Photo: S Thornton

Jill and Kimi set up this Snapchat thing that puts the MGAA Nationals 2015 logo on your Snapchat.  So we had a little fun with that.
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the camp grounds

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The storm and party

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There was a riot at MGAA Nationals! no no, there was a “country fest” across the road and the cops had their meeting in front of our camp grounds.

IMG_5994and some more riding

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PC: Maddie

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