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.

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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.

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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. 😊

Trail Report: Yankeetown/Marshall Run 235

March 19, 2018

Yesterday was gorgeous so Carol Ann and I slipped out for a quick spin at Yankeetown. Yankeetown is the name of the road. There is a circle at the end, paved, that can be parked around the edge of. I usually reserve this one for when the fire roads are a little rough in the winter but that didn’t really happen this year.

The fire road entrance is 235 Marshall Run and is just a few yards up the road from the parking. Cars and trucks can drive onto this fire road and park farther down it but it’s not as hospitable for horse trailers and the added bit of the ride is nice addition.

I completely forgot to run my tracker but the loop is about 12 miles I think. Maybe a little less. Quite a. I’ve ride, open easy fire road in, behind a gate, over some creeks, some closed fire roads, some forest trails. Some climb up and some descent down. A nice variety of footing.

The trail was nice and clear, it’s a very well maintained loop, thank you trail workers. I rode in a t-shirt. We got in some good trotting and it was just lovely.

I didn’t remember to take photos other than one after I got Simon off the trailer and before I climbed on.

The games season is about to blow up and trail riding is about to get harder to fit in.

Trail Report: 240E Kritchie Mountain with Poe 3/11/18

March 11, 2018

I took Mr Poe out Little Dry River Rd and up the Vepco fire road 240 today. We parked at the first side fire road on the right, 240e Kretchie/Kritchie Mountain (I see it spelled differently on signs and maps). Poe is currently barefoot and I know this short ride to be soft and not rocky for his sensitive naked feet.

I am sure a lot of you would consider Poe a decent little trail pony, and years ago I would have agreed with you. I used to consider all my ponies great for trails. But now that I have had the privilege of riding Simon now for years on trails I realize what crap all of my past ponies have been on trail. What I mean by this is I can jump on Simon and go spend the day all alone galavanting around in National Forest, where I am I very unlikely to see another person, out of cell range, climbing up and down mountains, navigating questionable footing, and feel reasonably safe. If Simon does spook, he generally slows down of stops, or tends to get a tense and alert. He is extremely cautious and has a high level of personal self preservation. There is always the chance of getting hurt but I feel like I am stacking the odds as much in my favor as I can when I take my bulldozer-pony-Simon out.

Poe is lovely in a group, and not so bad on his own. He is rather surefooted, and not spooky. But he is not Simon. He is also shorter on attention span, and even in a group, after about two hours he starts to jig instead of walk. And I do not consider jigging an acceptable trail riding gate.

So, that said, Poe is not a bad trail pony, he is just not my ideal trail ride. And as you read above, I tend to be a bit picky about what I ride when I go solo on a trail.

Lately I haven’t been trying to get Poe legged back up for the games season. I let him get more out of condition this past winter than in the past so it’s a bit more work than past years. He is pretty easy to leg up though. And he is also easy to keep in condition once there. So really not a hard task.

Poe and I both hate conditioning work. We have been hacking around the farm. Up and down the hill, around the field. Up and down the hill, around the field. Boring. We hate it. So we moved to the riding field and I set up a weird course of cones to signal gate changes and turns with a big tractor tire to walk through. Just something to help occupy our minds on days of decent footing. Ok so this is helping but it’s still boring. So when I rode this trail the other day on Simon and realized it was not rocky I decided to bring Poe out.

it’s a decent day. Sunny but chilly. We are expecting a possible snow storm tonight. But it’s been decent for about a month so it’s somewhat green too. We headed out. Poe was rather pleasant but a bit skeptical. He was tense, and did a funny move when he noticed a piece of bark directly under him. He leaped directly up like a cat, landing right back where he started with a snort like “well that was silly”. And went back to marching along like nothing happened. I laughed and was thankful it was up and not to the side. He also froze sharply into the ride, looking off into the woods intently and we watched a whole flock of turkeys. I tried to get a video but you couldn’t see them in it with the trees. It was pretty neat though.

(This is just a little video of us after we started the ride back)

he relaxed after the turkeys and enjoyed himself. It was a short ride, we did a lot of walking and some trotting. I mostly let him select his pace. It would have been nice to go a bit longer and farther if the trail had allowed but it did not. And Poe was quite content with what we did do. So we finished up and headed home.

He was quite pleased with himself and seemed to be rather happy to be the chosen pony of the day. I’ll have to come up with a couple more rides with footing appropriate for him. It’s a good mental work out and mental break for him. And sure beats ring work.

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.

Trail Report – Turner Run to Slate Lick Lake 

March 24, 2015

For this ride I started off on fire road 423 at Turner Run.  I rode out, and just past the second fire road turn on the left.  Just up a small incline in the road from that turn is a turn off for parking/camping with a bit of fresh gravel at the entrance.  In the back of this parking area is a small berm that starts off a well marked and heavily used trail.  There were a lot of hoof prints and pony poo and it was more heavily marked with different colored paint and marking tape as the trail continued.

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I rode down and back, making it a 15 mile ride in about 2 1/2 hours.

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There were often arrows marking harder turns in the trail.

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Eventually the trail popped out below Slate Lick Lake.

On the same side of the lake, if turning to the right and proceeding over the stone wall and up the large hill, several other markers could be seen showing the start of other trails.  I was at my “point of no return” and did not want to risk checking these trails out but I suspect one will lead back to the fire road I started from.  It is also quite possible that these markers and what appears to be more than one trail head all converge into one trail.  Ill have to explore more in the near future.

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We saw some geese down at the lake and a red tailed hawk on on the fire road.

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