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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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!

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 – Slate Lick, short loop 230, 5/25/15

May 26, 2015

Memorial Day Monday I decided to go for a short ride at Slate Lick.  the next two weeks are going to be extremely busy so I thought I should get in a ride while I still had time.  I was feeling very laid back, and so was Simon, so we walked a good portion of the ride.  It was perfect weather and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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I plan to give his loop a go in the somewhat near future, and strap the tracker to Daisy, so I can compare my mileage to hers.  It should be pretty interesting.

For this ride I parked in the usual field that horse trailers parked.  There were two already parked there when I arrived.  I headed down the fire road, and took the right hand split to Slate Lick Run, past the closed gate, and the lake and into the woods.

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I saw these puddles full of tad poles.

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I let the dogs go for a quick swim at the end of the lake.  There were a lot of butterflies out and about too.
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Into the woods and following the well worn and marked path, I crossed the creek beds and saw a snake.

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Eventually I came to the turn up hill to the right to take the short loop.  I took it.  Simon climbed the hill, Daisy bounced ahead.  At the top we came to one of the peanut butter jar message bottles.  I love these things.  There were only a few messages, and I noticed that the dates were sort of spread out.  This trail gets a lot of traffic and I figured the book would be full. nope.  I added an entry.

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This is also the point where the long loop meets up.  On we went through the woods, enjoying the breeze.

Nothing special but a very pleasant ride.

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Trail Report – Slate Lick 230/593/422 North split Loop – 5/15/15

May 15, 2015

This week’s half-day-Thursday, ran a little late, and I didn’t get to the trail head until¬†4pm.¬† I decided to hit Slate Lick area, which is an amazing area that is very popular with excellent trails and¬†creek crossings.¬†¬†With¬†Slate Lick most¬†equestrians pull down the long¬†entrance road to a field on the left where there is ample parking, and generally other horse trailers.

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I did this and then headed down the road, and took the right split, 230 Slate Lick.

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This is well maintained fire road, and cars can still drive down and park closer in just before a closed gate.

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I passed the gate, and a family going fishing, and headed along, over a few creek crossings and to the lake.

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On some previous posts I rode from Turner Run down to Slate Lick.  the photos below point to the areas that I came/in at.

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After passing the lake I headed into the woods, and followed the well marked twisty trail over creeks and through the trees.  At one point there is a left hand turn, that goes up the hill, veering back, that cuts this loop more than in half.  I probably should have taken this turn.

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I saw these cool, fresh mushrooms on this tree.

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This trail eventually winds out, maybe 6 miles along, into a sort of grassy clearing.

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Turning left puts you onto a fire road, 240 I believe, and eventually becomes an incredible uphill climb.  I kept thinking, geeze, this has got to end soon.  Nope, it just kept climbing.  Of course there were some great views on the climb, but my goodness, keep on going.  This was certainly the least exciting part of the loop.

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Eventually there is an open gate, and then a bit of a clearing with a marked trail, 422, on the left.

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Right after starting out on 422, the trail splits.¬† the left hand branch is just about as dominant as the right hand, and I am calling it the 422 North since it sits north of the main 422.¬† It is heavily ridden and well established.¬† It winds pleasantly through the woods.¬† I was cantering along part of the trail and saw this little man built shelter.¬† Not the best photo, but it gave me a chuckle.¬† “Did someone find it was too late to make it back before dark?”

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Somewhat more than half way along this section of trail another trail meets up with it from the left coming up the hill.  This is the split that could have been taken many miles ago.  But continuing on, this trail eventually pops back out at the Hog Pen side of the fire road, and right back to the parking area.

Its a pretty good length loop, and I don’t know what I was thinking taking it on a Thursday afternoon.¬† It was a great day for a ride, in the upper 50s and sunny.¬† Ill have to spend some more time at Slate Lick in the coming months.¬† There are so many little trails and places to adventure and explore.¬† And its nice to be on well established and used horse trails.

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