Virginia Horse Festival – Mounted Games 2018

March 25, 2018

This weekend was the fourth Virginia Horse Festival held at the Meadow Event Park on Doswell, Virginia. Meadow Event is known as the birth place of secretariat and the original birthing stalls still stand today for touring. This is a nice facility with an open and airy 142 stall barn, 4 outdoor arenas and one covered arena. The festival is three days, with demos and clinics going in all of the arenas and vendors in the convention hall.

The first two years we had a demo, and last year I came and did the Cornerstone trail challenge and an obstacle challenge. Lots of fun. This year MGAA was invited back to do a demo and a clinic and we also had a booth. My usual teammate, Matt organized it all, which is a lot of work. He did an awesome job.

Matt put together three teams of riders from different divisions and levels, which shows our variety. And we raced through about 11 races showing our sport. You’ll notice in the photos, Hero Kids donated shirts in colors to represent the Police, Armed Forces and EMS for our teams to ride in. We even had little Dexter on leadline taking part and being helped along by his fabulous “driver” Leigh Anne.

We started off warming up around the ring while our wonderful equipment crew got us set up. I talked about Mounted games and MGAA over the PA during this time. Then I handed the mic over to Leigh Anne who continued to talk to the crowd, explaining what we were doing, all while leading Dexter. She did an amazing job and didn’t even sound winded.

After our hour of races we switched to clinic mode and had four clinic riders come in on their own mounts. Each one was paired up with a rider. Leigh Anne hoped on my pony Poe and paired up, Kenzie on Simon paired up, Matt on Hero and Virginia on her Buckskin. So each clinic rider had their own personal instructor and partner. John set up several races and each pair took turns going through the races.

Meanwhile I spoke to the crowd about Mounted games and MGAA and narrated what the riders were doing. Some of our remaining riders went to the sides and took questions and talked to interested parties one on one.

It seemed to go very well. Our clinic riders were all extremely successful with amazing horses. I was highly impressed with all of them.

After the riding was complete we headed over to the booth and talked to some more people about games for the afternoon and evening before heading home.

It was an excellent day. Good weather and wonderful people. Bring on the games season! Two weeks!

ETS Obstacle Course – VA 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.  

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