PA Horse World Expo 2018

March 5, 2018

This past weekend was the Horse World Expo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I spent two days up there.

Saturday I left home in the dark with both ponies, met Lindsey along the way, and arrived a little after 9am. We checked in and then We helped Fred and Caroline get the equipment to the arena.

Soon the rest of our MGAA crew showed up and we all got racked up and ready to showcase our sport in the large stadium arena. Ironically the arena with more seating is a smaller riding space. We were staged and ready with excellent ring crew, an outstanding announcer, and a top rated referee.

I didn’t get any photos of poe! How horrible of me!

There was a driving demo in before us, and when it was our turn to go in, we entered, going right, and the driving exited behind us from the left. Poe and I led our group, followed by Lindsey and Simon. Poe was brave going in, with the stands across from us being rather empty, but once we were in and turned the corner and he saw the full stands behind us, his big pony pants were gone. He sucked in on himself, began jumping out lines (which Carl got down in record time, really, he was like super-liner). I held on, pushed Poe along, chuckled to myself that it would be hilarious to fall off before we even got started, and rode on. He settled in after the rest of our crew caught up and passed him. Relaxing and becoming more brave as we got started and a race or two under way, his head got into work mode and he forgot to be afraid.

Mean while Simon was busy showing off, nose flares, bouncing along, like some type of fancy show cob, full of energy and fire, tail flagged. Lindsey looks great up there on him, mane flying in front of her.

We broke into out four mixed teams and the show got on. I rode with Brett, Jaycee, Caroline and Ben. We did a great job jumping to it and getting our job done. It was a great time riding with new people, and no pressure. There was no scoring or placing to worry about, we were just demoing our sport. It was a good opportunity to remind myself “don’t over check for your put” which I did, ” don’t over check for your put” which I did, “lean for your pick” which I didn’t, and so on.

The demo went on for about an hour, mean while the bleachers co to yes to fill out, one side was picked, the other not so much. At the end we greeted people and introduced or ponies, handing out pamphlets on MGAA. It was very successful. And a very fun time.

Saturday night we headed back to Lindsey’s, put up ponies, grabbed a good dinner and hit the sack early. Then back to the expo early Sunday to spend the day working the booth, talking about games all day! What could be better?

MGAA board member and Over25 rider, Fred, organizes the whole thing and worked nearly the whole event. Amazing dedication. And amazing turnout!

Daisy loved being in the booth and was a big attraction herself. I took her for one walk around the expo and then out for a quick bathroom break. Look at how well she walked in the parking lot!

Mounted Games DEMO ~ PA Horse World Expo

Friday we worked the MGAA booth at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo, and Saturday we returned to take part in the MGAA demo.  It was slated for 4pm on Saturday  in the large arena and we had a full hour.

Simon at Kelly's getting dressed to leave.

Leading up to the demo day, Simon got to stay at our friend Kelly’s barn for the weekend, where he soaked up her loving hospitality. 

Simon loves stalls, and would prefer to be stabled part of the time versus a full time pasture pony.  So he loved having his very own stall for a few days, although he did follow their pony, Nicky’s example and let himself out Thursday night to frolic around. 

Kelly bathed, fed and let Simon in and out of his stall for the weekend and he was in pristine order when I arrived to pick him up Saturday morning.  I had my wash bucket in hand and found him still squeaky clean.  Since I had some time to burn I lunged him for a bit to get out some bucks and then got his wraps on in advance, before loading up and shoving off for PA.

On the road

We arrived in a three trailer convoy and managed, after much deliberation, to get parked awkwardly at the end of the lot, but still near the majority of the other MGAA trailers. 

After parking our group went in to visit the booth, which was hopping with Saturday expo goers, and joined in inviting spectators to come watch our demo and cheer us on.

Stopping for gas

Before long it was time to tack up and get dressed in our navy and yellow gear.  Linda, Kim and I combined our team, Old School, with two riders, Nancy and Phyllis, from the pink and black team, Time Flies.  Together we were representing the adult, “fossil” division.  Once tacked up, we spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to get into the venue with our ponies.  This was surprisingly difficult as the venue did not have signage or people out to offer direction.  We eventially found a people door we were suppose to take our ponies through and then made our way to the holding area. 

We spent about 40 minutes on deck just outside of the arena as other horses entered and exited for their demo events.  Everyone was nervous, ponies included and we were told the house was packing in and there were already 2000-3000 spectators in the arena with more entering.

Simon and I - Carton Race (photo: R Crowley)

Simon and I - Carton Race 2 (Photo: R Crowley)

When it was time to go, Linda led the entrance with me and Simon just behind her.  Linda’s pony Blue did not hesitate as we reached the opening to the arena and we pranced into a packed house.  The other riders all followed and everyone lapped the arena a few times for warm up as our fantastic ring crew prepared the equipment, and a few short minutes later, we were ready to roll.

Simon and I, Kim and Gwen - Pony Pairs (Photo: R Crowley)

Simon and I - Litter Race (Photo: R Crowley)

We started off with speed weavers, which is a pole bending race.  Riders cross over the start, or A line, and weave up through a line of 5 poles, turn the end pole and weave back.  The incoming rider passes a baton to the outgoing rider who repeats the same pattern, leaving all poles standing.  During the set up our announcer encourage the crowd to cheer the riders on and named off the teams describing the difference in age and level of play each team represented.  The crowd came through when the team next to us dropped their baton and the arena filled with a united bellow of “OOOOOHHHHHHHH”.

The next race was my favorite, Mug shuffle.  It requires the riders to race along the side of a line of four poles, moving a mug from the top of the first pole to the second pole, and then picking up a second mug on the third pole and moving it to the fourth pole, ending at the opposite side of the arena at the C line.  The next rider on each team will repeat the same action, but from the opposite direction, there by returning the mugs to their original poles.  This race is generally run at a full canter or an all out gallop depending on the rider’s skill.

Simon and I - Mug Shuffle (Photo: R Crowley)

Simon was very pumped up and when it was our turn, instead of his usual plodding canter, he ripped up the field at a full gallop, performing like the games pony I have been hoping he could become.  After that the races started to blur together.  The crowd performed lots of collective “OOOOHS” and “AHHHHHHS” and  a few “EEEEKKKK” type of reactions.

Simon and I - Mug Shuffle (Photo: R Crowley)

Sadie and Truffles - Mug Race (Photo: R Crowley)

The star of the show was 8 year old Sadie.  A tiny little thing, on a cute 11 and a half hand pony, Sadie has been playing games for a few years now, and is a determined and fearless rider.  She did a fabulous running vault onto her pony and the crowd cheered uproariously loud.  At the end everyone wanted to speak to “the little one”.

The other crowd favorite was Mackenzie on her leopard Appaloosa Inky.  Mack and Inky are amazingly fast, and work together like a clock work team, with Mack vaulting on and off, and performing all of her skills at a full gallop.  The striking appearance of Inky certainly caught spectators’ eyes and after the event I repeatedly heard interested individuals asking about the “Dalmatian pony”.

Mack and Inky - Bottle Race (Photo: R Crowley)

Simon was so proud of himself and clearly liked performing for a crowd.  He had his tail up through the whole event and although he was very nervous, he listened to me and worked to put on a good show.  He is really becoming an outstanding games pony.  I hope I can figure out how to get him to bring out that speed at our regular competitions.

We  completed 16 races before our hour was coming to an end and we used the last few minutes to ride around the edge of the arena and speak with the spectators still in the stands.  I spoke to two parties personally and both told me it was the most exciting event they had seen at the expo.  How awesome is that?

Kim and Gwen - Carton Race (Photo: R Crowley)

We left the arena full of adrenaline and returned to untack and blanket our hard working ponies and return them to their trailers with plenty of hay.

Before taking off for home, we went inside to see how the stand was going, and as expected, it was booming with interested spectators.  Half a dozen MGAA representatives were speaking with groups about games and brochures were being handed out.  I stuck around for a while and helped out, before I decided I needed to go before I was too tired to make the drive home.  On my way out I was stopped two times by spectators that had seen our demo and were on their way to our booth to get some more information.

Simon all done and ready to go home

It was a really cool experience and I really hope it helps MGAA grow and gives more people the opportunity to try this fantastic sport.

If you would like more information on mounted games, MGAA or Blue Ridge Games, feel free to post a comment, send me an email or click on one of the corresponding links in the side bar on the left.

Pony Ear Muffs

Simon and I are going to be riding with our team at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo in just under two weeks.  It is a really neat opportunity to show off our sport (mounted games) to a large variety of spectators.  Our organization, MGAA, has a great 1 hour time slot at 4pm on Saturday.   

We will be one of the five MGAA teams taking part.  Our team will be representing the adult fossil division, with other teams representing the intermediate and masters divisions.  Two of our usual teammates, Linda and Kim will be riding with Simon and I as well as two riders, Nancy and Phyllis, from one of the other teams we usually ride against. 

If you or anyone you know will be at the expo on Saturday, be sure to swing by for our time slot and cheer us on!  Mounted games loves loud cheering and good hearted heckles and our team might need the extra encouragement since we will be riding against some of the USA’s top games riders who are still in their prime!

Stock photo of the ear plugs. Simon was not going to let me get a photo of him with them in.

MGAA also has a double booth for the expo which will be open Thursday-Sunday.  Linda, Kim and I, along with some other friends, will be working the booth on Friday.   We will have MGAA clothing for sale as well as great information about the sport of mounted games, equipment on hand for spectators to see up close and personal, and a selection of photos on display and video playing.  We will also have information about different clinic and competition opportunities in a variety of locations.    

Going back to the exciting riding portion of the expo, we are told that it is a spooky location and even accomplished, been-there-done-that horses get a little weirded out by the echoes and sounds.  One thing to our advantage is that most of those horses would be in the arena one at a time, performing all on their own, where our ponies will be piled into the ring with 24 others and allowed to stand in tight knit groups, toughing their buddies. 

But since it was recommended to try ear plugs, I picked up a pair of wool twist plugs in black.  I attempted to stuff them in Simon’s ears and had absolutely no luck.  I might have been successful at inserting them if I could also grow an extra arm or two to aid in the process, but I decided that even if I was able to get them in, chances were he would not be in any kind of temperate mood afterwards.  So Scratch that idea.

I had a very fuzzy memory of a ear bonnet mixed into my horse stuff so I spent some time digging around until I came up with it.  So I gave that a try last night.  Simon was fine with me putting it on, but kept twitching his ears in attempts to dislodge it so I decided to put it under his bridle instead of over it.     I now understand why people put them on top, as getting his bridle on was a little less than easy, but once it was all straight and in place he seemed less annoyed with it. 

I left it on and went for a hack around the field to see how he reacted and I was less than impressed.  The bonnet is better used over the top of ear plugs, to help hold them in, and being used on its own hardly dampens sounds.  And although Simon seemed to get to the ‘whatever’ point about it, I decided that a less annoyed pony will be the better choice for me at the expo. 


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