blanket recommendation needed

Winter is coming, and so is Christmas. We need to replace Harmony's mid-weight blanket, and I prefer not to purchase from Schneider's again. Altho they are recommended locally, I had a bad experience with their customer service & "warranty" - simply put it's B.S. 

If you haven't gone down that road with them, let me tell you the "warranty" options I was given: Option A: Pay to clean and ship them the broken blanket, and long after you don't need it anymore, they would fix it and you can pay to get it back. Option B: Find a repair person, they will send repair materials, and reimburse you for the repair. Needless to say, I took option B. 

After being sent the wrong repair material and being charged shipping for it, and then being asked to pay to send it back, they sent me new repair material and charged me shipping for their error, a second time. 

The repair person thought what Schneider's sent was substandard, she was being nice. I thought it was a joke, being serious now - it was pathetic. She asked if I would prefer to use her repair material which looked much sturdier, of course I did. I wanted Harmony to be able to use the blanket again.

In the end I ate the cost of fixing a StormShield blanket that clearly came apart due to poor stitching early in the first season of use, drove several times to another town to get the repair done, spent aggravating time with less then helpful customer service girls, and in the end never got reimbursed.

Consequently, I am looking for a blanket recommendation - who do you recommend buying a blanket from??

It's okay if it's Schneider's, everyone I know locally buys from them - and if I ever do go down that path again, I won't bother wasting my time or money on their "warranty". I would buy a less expensive blanket, hope it makes it through one season, and know it needs to be replaced every year. I am hoping to find a reliable vendor instead...altho my husband won't blanket a horse. I side with my daughter where blankets are concerned. Harmony needs one if she is going to be ridden inside, and boarded outside, this winter. I love buying horsey stuff, let the shopping begin!!


into a puddle

We had a busy family holiday weekend, but I was determined to do more then feed, hug my horse & run this week. I couldn't get anyone interested (won't mention any names) in riding, so I loaded up my car with tack and camera gear, and headed down to the farm myself.

No expectations, other then to spend some time with the horses. Specifically, my horse. Maybe ride, or if they are all spun up just shoot photos. The brisk change in the weather on Thanksgiving night had the horses worked up like I've never seen them before. What a bunch of nuts, racing, bucking and carrying on. When they get like that, I just get out of the way and watch. Eventually they calm down. I really regret not having my camera, especially since it was the last night before Cierra headed up to the trainer. Note to self, bring camera when weather is changing.

But today, pulling into the driveway I found a much different scenario. The combined herds were peacefully sleeping in the warm sun. Guilt set in, do I want to disturb them? Truth be told, I really wanted to ride. As soon as I got out of the car, they slowly meandered over one by one.

I started hauling my tack into the arena. Not the best/safest place, but easier then constantly shooing the others away. Wow, Koda is fat - down one more notch on the girth...and I had to walk the boy who "puffs-up" to get the saddle secured.

It's been a while since I rode and was alone, so I decided to lunge Koda first to see what kind of mind set he was in for riding. Nobody else had to work, and altho sunny, it was still brisk. Why not try something new? I set up two barrels in the middle of the arena. I could figure something out for a thought provoking warm-up, and knew the barrels would add interest to riding. Below is the warm-up we ended up doing, fluid movement, both directions. The black dots are the barrels, I am the X's, and Koda's movement is represented by the circle's. We did a couple of most circles, before progressively traveling to the next spot - of course our circles weren't quite that perfect.

It turned out to be fun! We headed over to the corner to put his bridle on. Koda reached into the bit, awwe, my boy wants to ride?! I tried to get my foot into the stirrup...no luck. I think my saddle shrunk. Great. Apparently I was too stiff and (c)old!! I really didn't want to pullll on the saddle, or stand on the wobbly fence, which left me a small pile of poles to gain some height. Knowing that poles can roll, this could possibly be one of the dumbest things I do. But I tried, and they didn't roll. It helps that Koda stood like a rock. The pole was just enough height for me to get on, let the riding begin!

We did the usual working our way up in gaits, switched directions, added some between & around the barrel stuff. Koda is out of shape, so we took breaks. Did some side passing, or tried to - that wasn't pretty. I need to go back to breaking it down, and being clearer with what I am asking. With no trainer to bark out corrections, I've got to get them in my own head... We loped a little, easing into stops. The ground was semi-frozen, and who knows where rocks (or even pieces of glass) turn up, and then we called it a success. Koda did everything I asked, and didn't balk at a single thing. After un-tacking, I was glad I stopped riding when I did. Koda was just beginning to break a sweat, it was cold and all I had was a brush.

After riding everything happens in reverse,  and you know what Koda did when I was hauling my saddle out?? He walked up to me with my saddle in one hand & hip, and gave me the sweetest horsey-hug ~ good thing I had one hand free to hug back!! This is when my heart melted into a puddle...

back to relaxing, after the ride

Nemo was patiently waiting for his turn, which sadly he didn't get. I thought about at least lunging him, but hadn't asked Brad. Sorry big guy, I'll try begging asking harder so you can ride with us next time. Nemo watched, and followed me every step of the way...

I am not following you.
I am just, um, checking this pole


Sunday Stills ~ Animals in Black & White

Meet our four legged family that currently live with us at home, we have two horses (affectionately know as our girls) that are away being boarded/at the trainers...

who was not amused that I was once again trying to take his picture

used to run like the truck, now on three legs from osteosarcoma
we cherish the joy he still shows, as we try to do right for our sweet boy
protector of the driveway - a job he takes seriously
adopted from the same litter as Mack, they have never been apart

my husbands heart horse, and caretaker of us all
brother to Koda, born one day apart

my first horse, who melts my heart and yet challenges me
I am thankful he is in my life, every day

Enjoy other Animals in Black & White at Sunday Stills.


before the snow fly's

We always have plenty of help for our annual fall clean-up...

(nemo & cierra) can we help?

(nemo) are you SURE that thing won't eat us

...altho we work a little slower...

(koda) fresh cut wood smells soooo good

(nemo & koda) is any of this edible?

(cierra) it smells good, but I can't get it to move

...when our help does the funniest things...

(koda) where's the on switch?

...to make the pasture a safer place...

(koda) clear space

...before the snow fly's. As the weather changes, our riding opportunities fade and the reality is we spend less time with our horses. My hope is to continue riding, even if occasionally, after the snow fly's. I've never ridden a horse in the snow, this just might be the year I try that for the first time. It could happen.


koda's lucky number

Imagine my surprise to find this on Koda...


...it appeared overnight. I checked my girth & strap, and found nothing that might cause a figure eight to appear.

I posted last year about random white hair's appearing on Koda's otherwise bay coat.  The original thought was that the white hairs were caused by air restriction from my old saddle, and would grow out. Those white hairs didn't, it's been over a year. Now more have appeared in other areas, and the original white patch has expanded to a much larger area. 

The white hairs seem to be in flux. Only the tip of the hair follicle is white. I could pretend Koda's Appaloosa spots are starting to show up - but I don't see a number eight in the genetic mix anywhere. Guess it's just his lucky number.


she's a big girl now

Cierra has been asking, and finally got to try Brad's saddle on....


...first standing still...


..then at a walk...

...a trot... 


...backing up, and learning to wait until tack is completely off... 


No crow hopping, no bucking, just a wide-eyed wonderful girl! Cierra does bust-a-move when asked to lope, and is just beginning to figure out speed control. She is FAST, and will be super smooth, Brad can't wait to ride her! We are taking her up to our trainers on Friday. She will get her turn, Cierra is a big girl now.


Sunday Stills ~ Snacks

I regularly snack on almonds (lightly salted with Sea Salt) during the weekday. They are easy to keep in my desk at work, and are a filling healthy-ish snack.


See what other's snack on at Sunday Stills


a different day, a different horse

As we headed out for a mid-day ride, I quickly realized Koda wasn't his inquisitive, glad to be out on the trail, sweet riding partner. It was a different day, and today I was riding a different horse. 

It always befuddles me (yes, that is a word - look it up and you will no longer be befuddled!) on what causes this behavior. Does he not want to get out of the pasture? Is something hurting him? Are there bears in the woods? Did he drink too much caffeine? I think Koda might have whiplash from looking back and forth non-stop, the entire ride.

With head up high, clearly uncomfortable on this ride, Koda was starting to make me nervous. I ran through my mental checklist, trying not to get caught up in it. I had no reason to be nervous, we were riding on the farm. The same land we've ridden many times, with Brad & Nemo - who was golden by the way. 

I took deep breathes, tried singing, re-assured Koda, and tried to help me help him get past whatever was bothering him. I asked Koda to do things to keep his mind busy, like collect, side pass, and turn - which would at times start to resemble a slow spin. It would last all of two seconds, before his head was back up high on full alert, flipping from side to side. I asked him to slow down, the entire ride. I tried to ignore his "up" behavior. He did his naughty thing, several back's and turning towards home. I put an end to that, enough already. Koda wasn't on fast forward, he was super charged. 

On the way back, I tried something new and turned his excess energy into a game. We trotted circles around a moving barrel (aka Nemo) first one way, and then the other. Round and round we went. I joked with my hubby, he didn't know Nemo was a barrel horse! Brad thinks Nemo was saying  "doesn't Koda know it's a lot less work if he just walks forward" Pretty sure they both thought Koda & I were nuts!

What do you do when you head out for a ride, and your horse shows up all charged?

I rode the horse that showed up that day. We had a very different ride, then my previous post however Koda did listen to everything I asked, and while it wasn't the relaxing ride I had hoped for - all's well that ends well.


Sunday Stills ~ The Color Yellow

By November, Falls beautiful colors have faded in WI. Trees have dropped their colorful leaves, bright yellow finch feathers have muted, frost has nipped outside flowers, and we are surrounded by the many shades of brown. 

I thought about where to find yellow, if I didn't see it in nature. Signs, road lines, the sun - if we had some....hmmm, I don't own much yellow. I brought my flowers home from work for the weekend, aha!! I found some, in the bright colorful dyed flowers I was gifted!


See more Yellow from others, at Sunday Stills.


riding solo

After our trip up north, came the rain, rain, mud and more rain. Don't get me wrong I'm not complaining, we need it - but does it have to rain for endless days in a row? Not sure why Mr. Nemo gets a rock stuck in his right front foot, in the same spot - every - single - day - when it gets muddy at our place. Consequently, Nemo ended up a little ouchy. Not much we can do about the weather, so we made sure to keep the bedding dry, picked his feet a lot, and kept a watchful eye on him. It was minor and Nemo is fine now, but it brought our trail riding to an abrupt halt. 

So, I did something I've never done my entire life - I went on a trail ride, alone. We'll not really alone, Koda was with me. It took me a while to muster up the courage. I guess if you wanna ride that bad, you just gotta go for it. 

I would rather not ride alone under any circumstances, but upon occasion I'm okay with it in an arena. However, our arena is the fair weather type. We don't own the land, so it has remained a dirt bottom and easily becomes a muddy mess. We can't use it most of the year. Since riding in the arena wasn't an option, I asked my hubby if he would at least be down at the farm while I tried to find a place to ride.

I saddled Koda up, and headed out towards the wooded paths. We rode into the woods a little, things were going well. I decided to keep the ride short and sweet, and call it a success.  When I got back to the pasture, I told Brad what a good boy Koda was being - and to that he replied "well then, why are you back already" um, good point. So Koda & I headed out for round two. 

This time we rode along the edge of the north field, until we came upon the snowmobile entrance to the woods. A big tree had fallen down, and was blocking it. With a little encouragement, Koda stepped over it with his two front legs and did his usual draaaagging his back legs across. Lifting ones legs is a LOT of work you know! At least in his mind it is. Koda didn't think our ride was much fun anymore. It wasn't long after, he did his backing "I don't want to go that way" thing and spun around towards the pasture. I told him we wouldn't go over anymore logs, but the ride must go on. 

We continued until we came upon an incline area. It was a little muddy, but not bad. He backed, and spun around again. Really? Not a good place to be doing that! He just made himself more work getting us out of that awkward slanted spot. It was a little slickery, so I'm glad he listened. We rode until I asked him to turn around and head back home. Of course, he happily obliged. 

On the way back, Koda needed more then one reminder to sloooow down. It was close to feeding time, pretty sure that was on his mind - food always is. The look on Nemo's face when we rounded the bend within eye sight, was priceless. He was standing in the closest corner, ears perked, head up high, intently watching for us. Not sure if it was out of concern, or if he was saying "didn't you forget someone"? I was pretty happy that Koda & I had a successful first solo ride! It was nice, just me & my boy.

Koda & I, riding at Yellowstone (with Brad & Nemo)October 2012


Sunday Stills ~ Take a Closer Look

Take a Closer Look at some tiny figs that grow on my indoor fig tree. I've had the tree for over thirty years, not too long ago it started producing fruit/seeds that are around an inch or smaller. I don't own a tripod, or macro lens, so I'm not able to get super close crisp shots. Someday I hope to, since macros can capture more detail then one would think. I love that about all photography in general... 


...some of my favorite close-ups are of equine eyes. They are big and beautiful, and reveal not only their soul...


...but often reflections show up....


Take a Closer Look at other Sunday Still photos.


help find flirt

Help spread the word, if you know anyone in the Bellingham, Washington area ask them to watch for/help find Flirt: http://mustangdiaries.blogspot.com/2012/11/flirt-is-missing.html


what dreams are made of

With much anticipation, we headed up north on our big Fall ride for a needed respite. As we unloaded Koda & Nemo "our cabin", as we affectionately call it, and the area in general, felt familiar. Unlike past visits, we tacked up and headed out on the trail soon after arriving. We wanted to get in as much riding as we could during our mid-week stay. Spur of the Moment was unusually quiet, there was only one couple (no horses) staying at the ranch.

We headed out, Koda & Nemo snorted & sniffed the air and they were wary in the same spots.  Did you know the northwoods smell different? It does. It's full of earthy-wooded fresh scents, especially after a rain. I quickly wished I had my camera, on that late afternoon ride. As soon as we got off the main trail, the trees showed their real color. I was happy we rode through that area again the following day, because it looked like this...


...I love birch tree's, they remind me of Colorado's aspens - on a smaller scale...


...we only passed a few four wheelers on the multi-use trail throughout our stay, but once we got onto the wooded trails it was always just us ...


...Koda is so funny, lately he wants to pick the paths we ride. We weren't on the clock, so sometimes I let him, but other times the paths he picks don't make sense. We ended up on more then one dead end trail, but it was fun letting him explore!


...everything was so pretty, I shot a lot of photos off of Koda...


...altho we were told we missed the peak colors, we found plenty. The leaves that had already fallen, blanketed the ground and made for good leaf crunching...


...we took a path we thought would lead us to the Lookout...it must be up ahead? Famous last words. Koda forged on choosing his own path, which quickly became - not a path. We continued riding up toward larger boulders...but I kept getting that feeling that something wasn't right. How is it possible that everything looks so different, we were just here in June? This wasn't what I remembered, there was an actual path that led right up to gigantic Lookout boulders. Maybe in the Fall, the area get's overgrown? I turned around to backtrack.

Brad & Nemo passed us, they decided to bushwhack up higher to see, still thinking it might be the Lookout. Koda turned, took one look at them and said "looks like fun, can we go too?". So we did. Koda was a horse on a mission, he was going up - now. Whoooosh! He pushed off from him powerful behind, and launched us up a boulder *grin* that was fun, still brings a smile! We took a rest here...


...I reassured them, altho we were above the treeline this was not the Lookout. I stopped to take a picture, and Brad & Nemo quickly headed down. Koda wanted to take some lone rounded boulders down, nooo that would have been a disaster even if I wasn't on him.

As soon as you walk through the tree's, they closed up behind you. You can see how thick they were, I was surrounded, and could not find a good way to go down.  Koda was starting to get nervous - or maybe that was me. I called to Brad, asking (okay, I was yelling) how the heck did he get down? They came back up part of the way, to help us find our way down...I know what your thinking, not safe. Yea, but it was fun! Altho Brad teases, that letting Koda pick paths gets us into trouble, I believe this set us up for the next adventure...


...we continued on our journey, trying to find the path to the Lookout. At last, we found it! Just as I remembered, except we didn't hear "drum beats" while Koda & Nemo walked...and this time we RODE ALL THE WAY UP!!


...Koda & Nemo did so awesome rock riding for the first time! I am so proud of how they handled themselves. The Lookout offers a stunning breathtaking colorful view, looking out over the National Nicolet Forest, as far as your eye can see...just look at Brad's smile...


...I'll never forget this ride...


...on our last day we headed out from the ranch going the opposite direction. The north side of the Nicolet was just as pretty. We started out on a sunny familiar trail...


...and ended up discovering another entire trail area, we've never ridden. We got lost, and then found. Koda got to pick another path, it's cute how it makes him so happy. It was our fourth day of bliss, riding Fall trails, in one week (includes Yellowstone ride) that's rare for us. Fall is the best time to trail ride in Wisconsin, and the colors were stunning this year. I am so thankful we got to enjoy them! This special trip was the highlight of the year...


...being with my hubby & our horses surrounded by surreal nature, washed in color, breathing fresh air, and soaking up the serenity ~ that's what this girl's dreams are made of...