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!

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

MGAA Mid-Atlantic #3

This past weekend was the MGAA Mid-Atlantic #3 Mounted Games Competition held in Mullica Hill, New Jersey.  And team Old School was in attendance. 

All weekend, Kick Kick Kick, Yell Yell Yell!
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

 My teammate, Carol Ann and I drove up together and arrived Friday afternoon.  We got the ponies settled in and then set ourselves up in the camp with the rest of our team and friends.  We had some evening entertainment in the form of silly songs and ruckus laughter.  And Tommy lent his new skill at performing ART physical therapy.  Which led to more ruckus laughter. 

Linda and Blue in Bottle Shuttle Race
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Saturday morning we started the day with an 8am session.  We hit the ring and got in the game, well all of us got in the game, except Simon.  He seemed to think he was out for a leisurely morning stroll.  I am not joking when I say he killed the team with slowness.  He just would not go. It was all I could do to get him into a easy lope and get him to hold that pace down the lane.  At the end of the lane he would break down to a plodding walk to slowly turn around the end. 

AHHH!

Litter Race
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

I have never had a pony that required encouragement to get it to go.  I have never had a pony that needed to be kicked, or even squeezed.  And I am not a yeller or a growler either.  But Simon is not the typical games pony.  I gave it my all and I kicked and I yelled and I growled at him for all I was worth.  My legs felt like jelly after the session.  But Simon really did not seem to notice.  I felt like he was out there plodding along with a grin on his pony face just enjoying the morning and all the spectators watching him and I was just some gnat on his back making a pointless fuss.  

Carol Ann and Zeke in Sword Race
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Needless to say, I left the ring extremely discouraged and really frustrated.  I love that bugger, but my goodness, he was just ridiculous.  Even at his normal top speed he is well on the slow side, but he was just unreasonable during that session. 

photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Before the afternoon session I gave him a pep talk and brought a ‘pony motivational device’ to the warm up ring.  I didn’t even need to use the crop, just carrying it was enough to wake him up. 

Luckily that message stuck with him when we went into the competition ring and he was moving out at his normal dawdling speed instead of his pervious, near nonexistent pace.  My team did pretty well, but Simon just killed us that morning and it was too much to make up.  We finished the session 2 points behind the Red Solo Cup team, which was holding second behind the Time Flies team.   

Kim always smiles!
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Sunday morning we headed into the final at 8am and Simon kept his pace up and as a pair, we rode clean.  I did bunch the flags on my flag fliers pull, which killed me!  I usually have a pretty clean pull and I was a bit more than disappointed in myself.  I suppose I will be doing some extra flag work at home!  Otherwise there were a few minor mistakes, and one teammate was rather off, but all around, it was not a bad session for our team.  But as is typical for our division, it was not a bad session for any team, and even a circle around a barrel or cone by one rider cost a race completely.  So just the few minor errors were too much and we finished in 3rd behind Red Solo Cup who was behind Time Flies. 

I was a bit disappointed in our finish, and in Simon’s lack of enthusiasm.  But you can’t win them all, and we did try our best.  I am even more determined to get a new pony to train as my main games pony, and have Simon as my backup pony.  He just does not have that edge to put him at the level I want to play at.  He is still well suited at a slower pace, and certainly enjoys the game, but speed is not on his side, and he really does not seem to understand that he is in a race.  One thing I do quite enjoy about him is that, unlike nearly every other games pony out there, Simon does not speed up when I lean over or perform a skill, he continues at the pace I have set him at until asked to change it.  This is not typical of a games pony. 

“Go Pony GO!”
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

I love my pony, I just wish he has a bit more fire in the hooves. 

Team Old School
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Bottle Shuttle Race
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Mug Shuffle Race
photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Litter Race Update, Again

Yesterday I posted about Simon’s litter progress.  I explained how he is now moving at a walk or slow trot for his litter pick up, when previously he had to stop for it because he had difficulty making the turn while I was leaning over. Our goal is for him to be moving at a full canter, making a nice sweeping turn while I lean for my pick.

Setting up the turn and preparing to lean down for the scoop. Simon is still holding a slow canter!
Diane on team Red Solo Cup is already scooping to my left. For perspective my litter would be lined up with hers, so just in front of me and just out of the photo frame.
Photo credit: Ryan Crowley

This is a skill all of my previous ponies picked up very quickly.  The pony essentially learned the race, and as long as I set up the turn properly, they were capable of completing the turn on their own, or with very little assistance from me.  Simon is not as quick to pick up the races but he also continues to look to me for instruction during races rather than taking the initiative on his own. Which has its advantages, and like with this skill, its disadvantages.

Scooping at a strong trot, only breaking stride briefly.
Photo credit: Ryan Crowley

Simon also does not turn as smoothly as most of my previous ponies, or most agile ponies for that matter. He is stiff and clunky.  Part of this derives from his breeding, but it is also something we have been working on, and have made significant progress with over the past year.  So when turning, I need to do more than just lay the rein on his neck.

And dunking our litter into the blue bin at full speed.
Photo Credit: Ryan Crowley

Anyway, blah blah, right?  My whole point in posting about this again so soon, is that last night friend, and fellow games competitor, Nancy, posted some photos her very talented photographer son, Ryan shot of Simon and I in the litter race last weekend.

and just for fun, another cool photo Ryan took of Simon and I doing Balloon Race You can see the stick poking into the board on the right of Simon. This is just a fraction of a moment after the balloon that was in that same spot burst.
Photo credit: Ryan Crowley

Nancy is one of my favorite fossil rivals.  She rides on our greatest competition, the pink clad, Time Flies team.  Her and her pony, Marley are a fantastic pair.

Nancy and Marley making the turn while picking a flag in the Three Pot Flag Race.
Photo credit: Ryan Crowley

Side note: The footing was very very deep at this competition, which is pretty viable in the photos.  The ponys’ feet are all gone under the sand.  wow. 

Litter Race Progress

I blogged a while ago here that I had been working with Simon to improve our Litter Race.

The litter Race requires riders to ride to the far end of the lane with a 4 foot dowel in hand.  At the end of the lane are a line of 4 litter cartons with the open end facing away from the start line.  Riders circle behind the litter, scoop one up on the end of the stick and then ride back up the lane, dropping their litter in a trash bin on their way.  They then hand the litter stick over to the next rider who repeats the race sequence.

I am sure this all sounds a lot easier than it is.  I challenge you to give this a try at home.  If you do not have any MGAA standard litter, you can use a tennis ball tube or really any drink container that has the end cut off.

Photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

 Previously, I had to stop to pick up my litter because Simon was having issues making his turn at speed when I leaned over to scoop my litter.  I was working to improve this portion of the race so we could pick the litter up while moving.

scooping on the move
Mid-Atlantic #2 June 9, 2012
Photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

Sadly, the progress on this skill has been slow for Simon, but we are now picking our litter up at a walk, and on occasion, a slow trot.  Not exactly a flying pick up, but we are moving, and that’s a big step.

and off we go
Mid-Atlantic #2 June 9, 2012
Photo: Genevieve of EquiStar Photography

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