things have changed, and yet are still the same

We have enjoyed a few more rides in our outdoor, but potential riding days are dwindling. It is getting colder, sunsets are earlier and late Fall light drops like a rock behind our pines. I really want to be further along with my comfort and skills, before another weather induced long break.

Last weekend we were in the 30's (F) and mostly sunny. Warm and dry enough to ride, except we didn't. Instead I jumped at the chance to help with our three grandkids on Saturday. On Sunday, the weather turned out not as inviting. It was also deer hunting opening weekend. Our arena is in a safe area, but one more thing in the back of my mind. Monday was our next chance to ride for who knows how long, before our predicted weather turned into this:

Tuesday November 24, 2020

Monday was brisk, and we headed out to ride later than I had hoped. Consequently I felt like I needed to rush to get a ride in before it got dark. You know the saying haste makes waste. So true. 

Not off to the best start. Koda was the only horse not coming up by the gate...he used to come up to the gate. I swung my saddle up and didn't get it in the right position...red flag, my shoulder was sore. Grumpy pants was a cinchy puff ball...I always tighten his girth little by little, walk him around and wait for him to de-puff. Not new, he has always done this. Then Koda lifted his leg and bonked my head while I was putting his boots on...pretty sure this was on me for rushing. 

I waffled between lunging him and asking Brad, because - same ol' story, my shoulder. I am a "suck it up butter cup" kinda gal, but over the years have learned to accept help. Brad offered to lunge Koda, I was humming-n-hawwing but said okay...I really want to just do everything myself. Meanwhile Cierra and I walked around in-hand, while he twirled my bucky boy.  Apparently we are back to "that" frame of mind. I instantly wonder if Koda is hock sore (has been in the past) or sore elsewhere, or just being a brat. He was moving fine. It was pretty close to supper time, and if you ask Koda no horse should ever have to wait for supper! I think it was the latter. Nothing New.

So what is new? The sh%t has started stepping away from the mounting block. Grrr!! Years ago I had a lesson horse mess with me at the mounting block. Consequently, it is one of my pet peeves!! I tend to adjust the mounting block so I am at just the right angle. Koda has picked up on my hesitation. I re-adjusted him once, treating it as a none issue. I always try to land gently. We stand mounted relaxing at the block, he gets praise. I don't want to fling my leg over and flop on, while he walks away. I want him to stand and wait for me. Instead it went like this: I step up. He steps his hip over. I step down, and "baaack up" we go. Reposition, whoa Koda! I step up. He steps over. I step down. Unexpected shoulder rein smack. WHOA! rein downward motion. Repeated sequence, twice. After I step up. He still steps over. Ugh! 

I know he got what he wanted, but...if Koda doesn't want to stand still then he can move. Okay so that wasn't exactly what he wanted, but it is what he got. Since I wasn't mounted, back to twirling we go. This time with me. Not to worry I did not lunge him into a lather, just a few active rounds moving at my pace each way. Koda was still sassy with bucky on again/off again moves. It didn't effect his lunging, but I decided not to ride. Brad offered to ride him, and we switched horses. Koda listened well under saddle for him (of course!) and they even loped (for the first time in years) a short stretch both ways. Guess I am not loping him first after-all :( It was my choice to wait until I get my seat back, or at least closer than I am now.

I still felt like a duck out of water walking Cierra around (because a fish is floppy, I just feel less than comfortable). I need to figure out my rides with her too. We switched back, and I did end up riding Koda. We walked around, cones etc. He intentionally refused to comply when asked to side pass over the poles. The little turd. Something he did flawlessly for me the first time I asked on our previous ride. I was a little puzzled but didn't make it an issue. We just went back to walking around. I tried again, and first ask - cross, cross, cross. Walked around, tried the other direction. He moved and crossed over like he can. We ended there. Koda makes everything so damn difficult. Our trainer has told me many times over, Koda makes me work way harder then I should have to. 

Brad has been so supportive while I try to find myself, and feel comfortable riding. I think he knows all too well now, the struggle is real. My thoughts linger on the rushed flawed beginning. He reminds me, I still rode. Regardless of all the earlier stuff. It is something.

Not every ride can be fun and flawless. That would be too easy. Koda makes sure I know this lol. My struggles are all on me (bangs head against wall). Among other things I didn't take my time grooming Koda (he got
 a rushed body brush offwhich he loves, and Koda has always had opinions about riding around supper time. Nothing new. I mumbled something about Koda will always require training. Brad replied, or is he always training us? Yep - things have changed, and yet are still the same.

Harmony & Koda heading for shelter from the rain
October 12, 2020


cleaning house and a surprising cancellation

Blogger continues to be quiet, especially in my tiny Equine Expressions corner. I started seeking out active bloggers, and tried to find places to connect with others. In the process, I decided to clean house. I reviewed my reading list and cleaned up my read feed. Removing any blog that had not posted since 2018. If I haven't heard from you in two years, I most likely won't. Some were harder to unfollow than others. Even those that said good-bye. I held out hope they would come back and interact more in-depth. Other bloggers just plain 'ol disappeared. I found more than one site had been taken over by Asian gobbledegook. Best not to be connected to those!! Time will tell if "house cleaning" helps with connection. I am not holding my breath.

As the doom and gloom continues to get worse, it is important to have positive connections.

I was surprised to see yet another cancellation, for next Spring. Midwest Horse Fair 2021 has been officially cancelled. The venue is used for emergency needs due to COVID-19, and our State extended use through April 2021. The fair is too large to hold elsewhere. It doesn't affect me personally, although depending on conditions I likely would have attended. How sad for the horse community at large, and the vendors that depend on its revenue and exposure. 

Some days it is easier than others to look on the bright side. Animals live in the moment, and help keep things in perspective. SO grateful for our four legged family! I wouldn't be me, without them.

Hiking with our Tank,
Jameson and Remi (grand dogs)


our red heads day in the sun

Friday the 13th was our red heads day in the sun. Nothing unlucky about it. As expected, Harmony was on high alert for her outdoor arena debut. However, she did okay for her first time. At least the part I saw. When I asked how Harmony started out, Brad replied "ohhh, she got big - and I mean BIG". She must have been a horse kite in the beginning, for him to say that. By the time I got out to the arena, she was still full of excess energy but doing pretty good. I took a quick video, then switched to taking photos with my camera. Nemo did not like having Harmony out of his sight, and called out the entire time she was gone from the pasture. Consequently she was preoccupied communicating with her pasture buddy. You will hear them, and notice she is rusty at listening to gait and directional changes. 


She has been primarily free lunged and hasn't done much twirling at the end of a rope. At least not the way we do it. Free lunging has its place when done correctly, but neither of us are fans. Brad was forgiving and reassuring while working with Harmony, exactly what she needs.

on fast forward

resting bitch face

calling out and needing a nudge
to unglue her feet and switch directions

I was so happy Harmony got to expand her world, and get one-on-one time!! I wonder if she will continue waiting at the gate while we ride the others? Probably. It was interesting, there was zero calling when Brad took Nemo out to the arena right after Harmony got her turn. 

good job Harmony

she has always had a naturally shiny coat

On a semi-unrelated note, I was pleasantly surprised how our outdoor arena is handling moisture. It rained the night before, and turned into flakey snow. Some of it stuck around. It definitely got cold, but warmed up and the footing was great by afternoon.

We have continued riding Koda and Cierra, and hope weather allows us to keep up some consistency until the end of the year. We hope to get more rides on Nemo too. It will be a looong time before anyone get's on Harmony's back. She may be 20 but there is no reason Harmony can't be ridden lightly,  if  when she calms downs. Will see what kind of mood Mother Nature is in this Winter. If we can't ride, then we will do some walk-a-bouts as weather allows.

Harmony and Brad
walking the new tree line path back to the barn

Harmony and Brad (deep in thought)



the perfect gift

Koda earned himself a break after two days in a row of arena work and trail adventure. If you missed my recent early November posts, here are links to day one and day two

You may recall I mentioned Brad had a goal, better said a gift, and suspected it was to get Koda ready enough that I would feel comfortable riding him during my birthday week. I didn't bug him ask for it, this time it was his idea. It was a very sweet surprise, as I had pretty much given up on riding this year. He was not only determined to find time, but patient and supportive with my never-ending hesitation.

I decided to cancel b-day dinner reservations on my day, because virus spread continues high in our area. Instead we stayed home, enjoyed rare November weather in the 70's and had a wonderful day in my favorite place = home. Brad surprised me, took the day off work and made breakfast. Yep, I am spoiled!! The plan was to work with the horses again. I told him I was ready to ride, but he wanted me to ride Cierra first. I did, while he lunged Koda. Brad briefly rode Koda first, before I got on. Riding Cierra felt awkward. I have ridden her before, but not much. Cierra was looky. She is used to getting to work, not lollygagging with a rider who isn't completely sure she even wants to be riding. I tried not to be nervous, walked around a bit but didn't stay on long. I felt like a duck out of water.


We traded horses, and I rode Koda...my own horse for the first time in what feels like forever. 2 years and 4-ish months to not be exact. That is a long time! I really thought I would be so excited, happily emotional and love it - but, I wasn't any of those things. That was unexpected. Being in the saddle didn't feel like my happy place anymore :(


Oddly enough, riding Koda felt awkward too. I think I forgot how to ride!! Oh yea, heels down, sit back on your pockets, don't be tense, look where you want to go etc...good grief I think I need basic riding lessons again!!  Koda didn't do a single thing wrong, and yet once again I felt like a duck out of water. Maybe I wasn't meant to ride? Maybe those days are over for me?? Where did "that feeling" go? I didn't ride long, but I did it and survived to tell about it.

Brad decided to try ponying Koda just for fun. It has been many moons since my boy was ponied. At first Koda was like "you want me to do what?!" It was short and sweet, but Brad had a bit of fun and they all did good.    


Two days later we tried again. I was looking forward to riding Koda, and in a much better state of mind. This time Brad lunged Koda for a bit, then I asked to step in and lunge him. Know we do light lunging, and I look forward to the day we can once again skip this part. I hate lunging (even free lunging) and it didn't feel good on my injured shoulder. Meanwhile, Cierra waited by the rail. Much to Brad's surprise, I rode Koda first. I felt a lot better in the saddle, and we had a nice ride. Mostly walking with a little trot mixed in. My least favorite Koda gait. His trot is choppy, but he has the smoothest lope. Someday, I will float on my Koda cloud again...baby steps. He is totally ready to go at a lope, but I am not. 


Brad & Cierra in-between Koda ears

I am keeping our arena rides short on purpose. Not only do I not want to get sore, I want to keep it sweet. Brad wanted to ride Koda after I was done, so we switched and he um rode Koda out the gate! I hopped on Cierra and walked her around in the arena areas she got looky with me last time. We watched Brad and Koda ride the field like they've done it a hundred times, and then much to my surprise they went down a fresh bordering untrimmed trail Brad blazed a day ago!!

Brad & Koda in the trees, between Cierra ears

Koda was a rockstar, and it made my heart sooo happy to see Brad riding out on the trail!! 

our new tree line trail
Between the arena (on left) and the barn

I declined taking a turn on the new trail & field ride. Koda and I sat around for a bit watching Cierra & Brad explore the general area.

Koda & Aurora-sponge square pants
(sitting on the mounting block)

Koda: "are we done yet"

Brad and Cierra riding to the back of the barn

Later on the same day, I got what I asked for my birthday: to clean the junk up at the bottom of our property left by previous owners. You can't see it from our house, but I see it every time I hike the trails - which is often.

we loaded the tractor tires full of crap

Old mowers, shutters, metal you name it, tv etc. All this, and Brad had removed a refrigerator plus other large items the previous year. There is still some clean up left, but the major eye sore junk is cleaned up and about to be gone! 

a rare sight, Koda alone sleeping in the shelter
I think my boy was still tired from previous days activities!

OKay, so maybe they were all tired,
soaking up the sunshine before the rain

(Koda, Harmony, Nemo and Cierra standing watch)

We took advantage of the last day of warm beautiful weather, and rode a third time. Three times must be the charm, because I had fun and forgot to take photos. This time I did it all myself, lunged then rode Koda. He is being a sweet well-behaved boy. Brad snuck some poles into the arena. Love going over poles! I sang a silly song as I trotted around them, walked and side passed over the poles. It was a nice ride.

Truly the perfect gift.