STRHA JPR 2018

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

Video:

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.

ETS Obstacle Course РVA 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.  

Trail Report: Bluehole Top Loop 

March 20, 2017

Today I went back to Bluehole (big surprise) and I found a second loop, and I love it.  It is such a nice ride.  I need to figure out a tiny part towards the end still but it’s an awesome loop. 


I started out on the main road in. I rode past the logging areas and made the first major left to follow Grove Hollow.  I stayed on this even though I was super tempted to check out some of the side trails until it came to the three way fork.  The left is for the shorter loop.   It is through logging areas and has amazing views.  To the right is a lesser pronounced trail, more of a 4wheeler path.  I have not gone this way yet.  

I went straight.  It wraps around and past some more logging, and eventually sort of loops around to the left into more of a field with an older looking 4wheeler type of trail through some fields.   This part is not marked on my gps tracker. 

It keeps going along the ridge, in and out of clearings, with a view of the road a ways off to the right.  It is a nice clear trail, hardly anything down, no branches in the way, pleasant and smooth.   I really enjoyed this stretch of the ride.  It eventually came to a private property sign, and I stopped.  

Looking at the my gps tracker I could see the shorter loop was running somewhat parallel to the left at this point and not too far away.  I opted to cut down through the woods, which were rather clean and easy to navigate and shortly I popped out on the lower loop trail.  I assume there is an actual connection that I missed or didn’t notice (since I wasn’t really looking for one.).  I am already super eager to go back and mess around with this part of the loop.  

I finished off with the big down hill that is a little hard to see.  I think I followed it better this time.  But I am also eager to go back and mess around with this section as well.  I am so tempted I might go back tomorrow.  

When I was driving into Bluehole a large flat bed passed me going out and when I got to the parking area it was clear that the dude spent some time turning that beast around.  While I was unloading Simon a white SUV pulled past.  I said hello and he told me they were done for the day, and were just dropping off equipment but we be back in there working soon.  So I suppose this will mean the roads are kept up.  

Again super excited to go back here.  This loop is just shy of 8 miles and there are a lot of areas to move out.  Actually almost the whole ride can be ridden with some speed.  All the way until the very end.   I saw some deer, and a small mouse like critter.  There are also quite a few ponds just off the trail.   And a nice little creek side ride at the end.  I also assume the bears are waking up.  I saw a lot of dog spots and freshly scratched up trees, and even some fresh bear poo.  This was mostly in the area where the fireroad sort of ended into a 4 wheeler trail near the first pond.  

I attempted to video a little of this ride, a clip in different parts so you can see the terrain.  Of course I did not think about this for the first two thirds of the ride, which is more prominent Fire roads.   



Trail Report РGauley Ridge/Turner Run, just a hack 

February 8, 2017

It’s been a while since I have posted a trail report.  I have been trail riding, just not posting.  But this evening I was looking back at a trail report and started to get excited about trails I had forgotten about.  Which inspired me to start recording them again. 

Yesterday the weather was amazing. Seriously it hit 70 freakin degrees. So what does an unemployed horse girl do on a week day in February with 70 degree weather. She hits the trails.  

It’s been a while since I hit up the Turner Run. The drive in was simple and easy, and I pulled into the parking area at the top of Gauley Run and found it trashed. A ripped up couch and – no joke here – Pieces of hog strewn about. Yep, hog parts. Who the flip does that? 3 giant hog heads laying out in the parking area? Not ok.  

So I parked, took a few pics with my phone for proof, and then hacked out.  

Simon and I were feeling chill so we took out time and did a little “refreshing” of the area. It’s been so long I needed to remember where I was.  

We went down the right hand, Daves Turnpike trail (closed gate in the back of camping area to the right side of the road). Nice views.  

We took the top road on the way back. It’s marked on the FS map, google maps, tracking apps, etc. this was surprisingly clear. There were a few ehh spots but not many and I was actually surprised.   


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