Friday, August 18, 2017

2017 USPC Championships: Polocrosse

These are my last pictures from Championships. If you haven't gotten your fill of horses yet, check out last year's pictures under the label section on the sidebar to the right.

Polocrosse is one of those rare Pony Club sports I'd always heard of but knew nothing about. So I jumped at the chance to see Polocrosse in person. I'm glad I did because it ended up being one of my favorite things that I did the whole week.

Polocrosse is basically lacrosse on horses.

In Polocrosse the horse has polo wraps and bell boots on all legs to protect them from getting hit with balls, rackets, and other horses. Each rider has a racket. The "referee" is dressed in a striped shirt and also rides a horse and carries a racket.

 The game begins on the edge of the field along the middle line. Each team consisting of 3 players line up in ascending numerical order.
 The "referee" then throws in the ball and everyone tries to catch it in their racket. The riders then peel off and make a beeline for the goals on either end of the field.
 The ball is passed to whatever player is open at the time.
 If the ball is dropped, everyone circles back and tries to pick it up with their racket to claim it for their team.
 However, a successful pass from teammate to teamate is ideal.
 Once you have the ball it is a race to the edge of the field.

 On each edge of the field is a 30 yard line which the ball cannot be carried over. Therefore the ball must either be passed from one player to another over the line or one teammate can "bounce" the ball across the line, however they must be able to recover the ball.

Another rule is that only the #1 player of the team attempting to score and the #3 player of the defending team are allowed past the 30yd line. This keeps things from becoming crowded. The defending #3 player tries to keep the #1 player from scoring by blocking their path and/or knocking the ball out of their racket.

Once a point is scored, everyone heads back to the center to start again.

 This continues until the end of the "chukka." Each chukka lasts for 8 minutes and the goal is to score as many points as possible in that chukka. After the chukka is finished, players dismount their horses and lead them off the field to cool them off.

 When we hiked out to the polocrosse fields, I was excited just to watch the game played. However, in an attempt to raise interest in polocrosse they graciously invited anyone who wanted to to ride a polocrosse pony and play a short chukka. They supplied us with rackets, balls, helmets, and horses.

I and many, many others grabbed our rackets and started practicing.
 This is the horse I would eventually ride. He was a sweetie.
 My quiz teammate got her chance first.
 She got to play a 3 minute chukka
 Then it was my turn.

We traded horse, helmet, and jersey, and I mounted up.

It was very strange riding a horse in shorts...

But I was very, very happy. When I went down to CHAMPS I never expected to have the opportunity to ride a horse much less play polocrosse!

 We lined up for my chukka... it was kinda chaotic since none of us knew what we were doing.
 When the ball was thrown in, no one caught it and it landed on the ground in the middle of the field. Several people tried to pick it up off the ground but to no avail -- Picking a ball up from atop a horse is no easy thing. Suddenly, I saw and opening and headed for the ball.

I unconsciously put to use all the skills I'd learned in mounted games practices and somehow managed to scoop the ball off the ground. I trotted off toward the goal. (These practice chukkas were kept to walk/trot for the safety of the inexperienced players and the health of the tired horses.) 

Since I was player #2 on my team, I couldn't score the point or pass the 30 yd line so I called for my #1 player. I tried to pass it to her over the 30 yd line but the ball hit the ground. Fortunately, she managed to get it off the ground and scored the point!
So, that is the story of how I learned about polocrosse and also got to ride a polocrosse pony and play in a chukka. It was an experience I'll never forget and I'm so glad we made the choice to go all the way out to the polocrosse fields.

I wish my region had the ability to play polocrosse -- at least for fun.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Year Ago Today

           From splashing in frothy, saltwater waves to crawling up the agonizing slope of Croagh Patrick, there are twenty-three people who share memories no one else in the world ever will. When I set off on the journey of a lifetime exactly a year ago, I hoped they would become good friends – instead, they became family.  We shared tears, laughter, stories, frustrations, but most of all we shared love -- A deep unfailing love for each other and the Ireland we experienced together.

                For several years the Lord pressed the verse Ephesians 3:20-21 on my heart. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine … to him be the glory.” There is something strange in the way God works. He brought together twenty-three people of varying personalities and backgrounds and bound us together through the storms and joys of Ireland into a solid rock of friendship. I hoped to make a few friends.  He gave me twenty-two of some of the best friends I could ever ask for. The memories and friendships we’ve formed are beyond words. 

                We will never be able to replicate the three months we spent together. Those precious days flew by too quickly. But the winds of time can never snuff out the burning light of our friendship. I’m so thankful for these wonderful people who changed my life in ways they cannot even imagine. I cannot thank them enough. 



Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 USPC Championships: Eventing Show-jump Phase (Part two)

 Taking pictures as the horse is going over the jump is neat, but there is something simplistically beautiful about a horse as it is trotting or cantering around the course in the early morning sunshine. 

This post will have less jumping pictures and more pictures taken between jumps, which is where the real work happens. These pictures are the essence of each rider's jumping rounds. Without this careful balancing and preparation, the horses would not be able to clear each jump.

I really like this bright bay. 
He's quite a handsome horse.

 Big smile and a thank you pat for the horse after a clear round.

 Here's that cute pony!
 Speaking of ponies...

The little chestnut pony pictured below was one of my favorite rounds of the day. Unfortunately, I'd just put my camera away and by the time I got it out again, I only got a blurry picture of their last fence and this one as they trotted out of the arena.

This little sassy pony -- who was swishing her tail and resisting through every corner was a brilliant jumper. I believe she jumped a clear round even though the jumps where as big as she was!
I this gray is one of the prettiest horses I've seen.  I LOVE its coloring.

 Seeing a pinto jumping is always fun -- especially an overo like this.

 This giant pinto was some kind of Tennessee walking horse or American saddlebred cross -- NOT your typical jumping horse. Unfortunately, they knocked quite a few rails.
 And of course, as soon as I saw the pretty bay mare I took as many pictures of them as I could. I have a huge soft spot for this mare.
 Eager and ready to go. Love this mare.

 Another attractive pinto out on course.