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!

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 kristashine@hotmail.com or click on one of the corresponding links in the side bar on the left.

MGAA Booth ~ PA Horse World Expo

The Pennsylvania Horse World Expo was pretty cool.  My teammates, Linda and Kim and I went up to Harrisburg to work the MGAA booth all day Friday along with friends Genevieve, Tommy and Annie.  It was a really good time and the booth was pretty busy.  The video running, the photos on the blue display board and the big joust board out in front of our booth all attracted people and we spent most of the day chatting about mounted games, MGAA and telling people how they could give it a try.

I spoke to some jousters, as in full metal jousters, eventers, hunters, barrel racers, trail riders, pleasure riders and people of all ages.  I talked to people who traveled from as far away as New Hampshire and also people down in my own area in Virginia!  We gave them info about clinics in their area, directed them to our website and invited them to watch the demo we would be performing the next day.

Kim and I walked around the venue, taking in the sights and did a little shopping.  I picked up a trailer aid, which I have been wanting to get for my trailer, and a new set of blue cotton reins for Simon.  There was a lot to see and just about everything equine you can imagine to purchase.  We stopped by the event rings and round pens and got a feel for the whole venue, which took hours.  My feet hurt.

Our friend and fellow games rider, Kyley, had her booth, Painting Pony, across the aisle from us.   Kyley’s pony, Minnow, was in the booth and performed painting demos several times throughout the day.  Minnow Is Kyley’s retired games pony, come painter and trick pony.  He is a Chincoteague Pony and he is also adorable.  He hammed it up for the crowd climbing up onto his pony stand and reaching over the corral to greet passersby.  Check Painting Ponies out at http://www.paintingpony.com/

It was a day well spent.  I am pretty enthusiastic about mounted games and can ramble on about it all day long.  But, the only thing better than talking about mounted games all day, is actually playing mounted games all day.  Which is what we did on Saturday.  But you will have to wait until tomorrow to read about that!

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

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