May 5, 2018

Today was the local Judged Pleasure Ride, part of the Crystal Crown Series, hosted by my local trail club, the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horsemans Association. This is my favorite ride for a couple reasons. It’s the closest, it supports my trail club, it’s a nice length, and I also really enjoy the laid back vibe and easy fun feel of the ride.

I have met Val and Zoe here before and we had a blast, and some years this ride has conflicted with Mid-Atlantic #1, which takes precedence. Last year I came on my own and poor Simon was a mess all alone. And honestly, it’s not so much fun with no companions. But I was befriended by Andrea and Lacy who were the pair ahead of me on the course. They offered me to join them and I felt like we hit it off. See last year’s blog post for details on that. Click here for it

This year I was going to be headed out on my own again so I reached out and Andrea was also headed out on her own and happy to join forces. Woo! Simon and I met up with her and her big boy Quinn and we had an awesome time today.

Obstacle 1: The Chainsaw Massacre. Stand on a plywood platform and be approached by a chainsaw. When you horse moves the chainsaw is stopped. The closer the chainsaw gets the higher you score.

I was happy with Simon although he gave in quick, he was sensible. This was our lowest score, 4.

Quinn was like a rock! He stood there without a care. I am pretty sure he rocked a solid 10 here.

Although this was my lowest scoring obstacle it was also one of my favorites. It was unexpected and different. I have not seen an obstacle anything like this one before. Pretty neat.


Obstacle 2: Off Side Mount. Have your horse step their front legs over the log so they are straddling it. Dismount, leave your reins, walk around behind your horse to the off side, and remount.

This went well. Simon did great. I was a little sloppy but I still managed to remount from the offside way better than I expected. Score: 10

Quinn was a goof here. He walked off when Andrea went around him, like “haha”. So she reattempted and he did this silly jump to heave his front end over. It is so cute. She mentioned he ground ties and in retrospect she should have dropped his reins on the ground.

I liked this Obstacle a lot too. Simple but also different.


Obstacle 3: The Gate. The typical rope gate obstacle. Pick up the rope by the knot (not the loop), only use one hand, don’t put it over or under the neck of your horse or let it touch the ground, go through the gate and close it.

Andrea killed this one. I am pretty sure she got a 10. Quinn was so chill.

Simon impressed me here. Last week he was moving so fast on this one and just backed off of it and I had to drop the rope before closing it. I had a moment of confusion at the start deciding which hand to use and switched from left to right at the last second, but all went well except for me letting the rope touch the ground. I believe a judge made the comment that being on a short pony is an advantage on some obstacles but on this one it put my rope closer to the ground. Ha-ha yep. I am super pleased with how this went. Score: 9

This is a classic obstacle and I have no excuse for not having worked on it at home. Note to self – work on this at home.


Obstacle 4: Back up. Back up the hill through the zigzag pole pattern and through the red markers.

We did super well at this. I started off backing up next to the course then started over on the actual course and it went super super well. Like surprisingly well. If we had only started off on course! Go Simon. Score: 8

Quinn was so big for that course. I doubt Andrea could see the poles around his belly. Be tried though and got most of it. I really think there was just a little visual issue because it was really not bad.


Obstacle 5: Soccer. Pick up the broom, use it to push the big ball across the yard and out the end in 60seconds. Re approach if you pass it.

I expected this to go pretty poorly with Simon’s weird aversion to big balls but it went surprisingly well. He was a bit quick, and we had to re approach once, but we finished in 30 something seconds. He was apprehensive of the ball. And it was heavier to push than it appeared. Score: 10

Quinn was doing ok but Andrea accidentally bopped him in the head with the broom and then he was audibly upset with the broom, snorting and all. But he was actually pretty good for being unhappy. He did bust out the side of the course, but all in all was reasonably “freaked out”. He did not care about the ball. And Andrea mentioned he eats brooms normally so I assume he was just that offended at being accidentally bopped by it. Reasonable. Andrea did get the ball half way across which was a decent feat.

This was another cool obstacle. I really liked it.


Obstacle 6: sidepass mailbox. Step over the rail on the left hand side by the flag, side pass along the rail to the right, open the mailbox, remove the box and hold it over your head, shake it, return it to the mailbox and close it. Side pass back to the left along the rail.

This was our second worse obstacle. Not a bad obstacle set up either. And Simon is a good lateral mover. He was rather concerned about that flag, which is just silly, and too busy looking at it to focus on what I was asking. So he backed off the rail instead of side passed. Score: 5.

Quinn is not a lateral mover and you have to watch him on the video it’s so cute. Andrea is trying to move him over and he just stands there like a rock. He also stands like a rock for the mailbox. Such a good boy.

This was a good obstacle but eh. I don’t have a good reason to not love it accept we didn’t do well at it. And it was a pretty typical one so we should have done well. We have side passed to and from mailboxes before. Maybe that’s why it was meh. Been there done that, but did it better before. I guess they can’t all be winners.


Obstacle 7: The Tire. Walk through the tire. The tire was filled with bottles.

Quinn yet again killed this one. He just marched on through like a champ. Done and done. I am sure he got a solid 10.

Simon was a bit apprehensive but listened. He was not nearly as smooth as Quinn. Score: 8.

You know, this one was cool. There are only so many things you can do with a tractor tire and this was cool. Simple and cool.


Obstacle 8: The Tunnel. Ride through the tunnel.

Quinn walked on through. Simple and perfect. Beasted.

Simon also crushed this one.

I believe we both got a 10.

Probably too easy but I liked it. I think this would be a good #1 obstacle to get them warmed up.


Obstacle 9: Step Up. Ride up the steps.

Quinn killed this one too. It’s a crap video but I am sure he walked off with a 10.

Simon ducked a bit on the second step but nothing too bad. Score: 9.

This is a cool built in obstacle and this is the only place I have seen one. We have gone down it once before too.


Obstacle 10: The Pond. Get into the pond, pull in the whale. Keep your horse in the water until the whale hits the water.

Quinn did so well at this one. He is such a solid boy. He really did a great job at this one.

Simon did so much better than I expected. He really wanted to run but he held it together until just when that whale hit the water. This was such an improvement for him and any type of dragging. I am super proud of him. Score: 8

A challenge. I like this obstacle. They always have something here and it’s always a challenge. But it’s always a good one.


I had so much fun with Andrea and Quinn. We chatted the whole time and it was so much fun. I felt completely at ease and myself and I think she did too. And Simon loves Quinn. He was constantly nose bumping him and giving him sniffs. Quinn was such a calming body for Simon to be with and a had a similar pace too. Two cute ponies.

I hope to ride with Andrea and Quinn again. ūüėä

Trail Report:Turner Run/Gauley Ridge to Slate Lick and back 3/10/18

March 10, 2018

Today Carol Ann and I went for a ride. We did a lot of walking and talking and it was a dang good time.

we parked up at Turner Run and headed on past the closed gate, about three miles in and made a left onto the ride top trail. It’s the one that pops out at the parking space facing slightly back. It was amazingly clear after that crazy wind storm last week. I expected a lot more downed trees and was pleasantly surprised at the lack of destruction. The trail winds down and around for a good ways. There are some old red, blue and yellow marks painted on trees that are often hard to see. And sometimes a faded out marker tag. But in nearly all spots the trail can be seen pretty clearly.

There are two places there the trail makes a hard right turn. The first time the trail also continues ahead so it’s easy to miss. But the tree there is heavily marked with arrows and the trees to the right are also heavily marked. The second time the large tee on your left has two large arrows on it and the trees to the right are sparse and hard to find. From this point on the marks are a bit harder to find and some of the trail is a bit blown over but with a moment of looking you won’t get lost.

The trail eventually dumps out at Slate Lick. Carol Ann spotted a raccoon down by the creek at this point. Pretty neat. We let the ponies get a drink and then worked out way up to the lake where we saw some geese. We took a few snap shots then headed back up the fire break trail.

I was not good at taking photos on this ride. We were too busy chatting it up and having a good time to think of such things like documenting the ride. (But my gosh look how big Simons head is in that photo of him!)

Just as we got back to the parking area, Carol Ann’s mare smashed her knee on the fire gate. I think it’s going to be nice and purple by morning, it was a rough smashing. To be clear, the mare smashed Carol Ann’s knee, or her own pony knee. Naughty pony.

I hope Carol Ann still had a good time. And I hope she can walk tomorrow. It’s one of the best, although slowest rides I have been on in a while. And with competition season coming us, trail riding is going to become less frequent soon.

Matt‚Äôs 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.

Please pass wide and slowly 

March 13, 2017 

We have a snow storm rolling in this evening.  The only one we are getting this winter so everyone is going crazy stock piling bread, milk and toilet paper.   I ran my normal errands and Costco was a mad house.  The parking lot looked like it was the Sunday after church rush.    

I managed to get home, and get my outdoor storm prep (stack more wood, find snow shovel, move bales of hay to the field, etc) with enough time to get in a nice road hack.  I have a couple road loops I can do from my house, mostly gravel roads, all about 4-6 miles long.  

I outfitted Simon and I in our safety gear – bright yellow – there is no way a car coming up behind us could miss us.  Heck, we were probably visable from outer space!  Decked in yellow, we trotted on out and got in a nice ride.  We passed cows, sheep, goats, other horses, scary plastic bags, pony-eating-farm-equipment, and plenty of dogs. Simon hardly blinked.  His most challenging part was a one lane narrow section of gravel road directly between two occupied cow fields.  Both herds ran along with us in their respective field.  Simon looked at them and I didn’t want to take my hands and attention away to take a photo, but it was no big deal. On we went.  

We came upon a school bus and four different pickup trucks.  All of which were amazing examples of vehicles coming upon a horse on the road.  I did encounter them all in rather narrow sections of the road, areas that would require a car to take care to pass another car going in the opposite direction.  They all came to a stop or close to it and waved and smiled politely.   

Shortly before the end of the ride a suspected high school or college aged girl came flying up on me, I swear she was picking up speed the closer she got.  I flagged her down and asked he to please pass horses slow and wide in the future.  That even if a horse appears to be comfortable with a car passing, something could cause the hose to startle (an evil leaf, a bird, etc) that horse might then jump in front of or into her car.  

I find it’s important to explain this in terms a driver can relate to. “You could kill me and my horse” *should be all that needs to be said, but it seems that it hits home for them more when you explain that their car and life are in jeopardy.  

I finished my ride, and grabbed the mail on my way up the driveway.  I even had a little more time to get in more wood before the impending storm.   

Games Practice 11/09/14

November 10, 2014

A couple of us from team Gone Rogue decided we want to practice this winter.  So we found an indoor that is about half way for all of us to meet up at.  Its one of those big white tent indoors on farm right on the edge of Berryville, just outside of Winchester.  It took me just over an hour to reach it, and it was an easy few miles off the main road.  Rocking M Acres, has some boarders, long-horned cattle and they host roping events.  The owners are extremely nice, and so are the two boarders we met.  It is a down to earth place.

This Sunday was our first practice, which we are planning twice a month for the next several months.   We have also invited a few other people to come and join us at their convenience.  Mainly an adult games rider crowd, we figured it would be an  opportunity for us to get our ponies out and work out some games skills and try some different techniques while having a fun social event.

For this first practice it was only three of us, which worked out great.¬† Val, Zoe and I met at the indoor, and got our games on.¬† We enjoyed playing at our own pace, and spent some time working on different skills with each of us.¬† Personally I want to improve my bottle placement on the B line barrel in position¬†1/3.¬† Val is perfect to work with on this because she has the fastest bottle placement I have seen on this side of the ocean.¬† She spent some time coaching me through it, and I think I have the idea down now, and just need to work on changing my approach to see if it will work for me.¬† We also worked on Zoe’s flag pick up.¬† She was unsure how she wanted to pick, palm up or palm down, and tended to approach the flag switching her hand.¬† I think She got it, and found the position that best suites her.¬† Val worked on her tool placement in toolbox, although I think she already knew she needed to just “place” the tool instead of¬†putting it into the box with force causing it to bounce.

We played about ten different races, using up more than our two-hour session.  It was nice to get the hang of each other in a small group.  We found that our handoffs were nice and smooth, and we all three use much of the same techniques with the different equipment.  It was also decided that Petal much prefers handoffs from Poe over handoffs from Sprite.  Val and I also determined that we must reclip our ponies before the next practice.  Zoe was smart with a freshly clipped Petal.

After practice we stopped for pizza and got in a few more good laughs and reflected on our practice.  Hopefully next time a few more riders will join us, but if not, the three of us had an awesome time on our own!

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They had this giant mounting block.  We tried it out and you had to LOWER down onto your pony from the top.  We thought it was hilarious.


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