gumby rides again

My horse has a new nickname, it's Gumby. He earned the name during his first chiropractic appointment - and I quote "ohh, he is fun to adjust - he turns into Gumby". I only wish I had snapped a photo of Koda's pathetic face while having body work done. Let's just say, he reeeally liked it!

Our vet got certified in chiropractic care and switched clinics to practice all Eastern Medicine. I've never seen anyone so happy from making a career shift. Altho we miss her during routine care, our horses will still benefit from her wonderful caring ability to explain conditions and options to us. We have a similar mindset, in that there is a place for both types of care. Nobody was happier to see her again then Gumby, 'er Koda.

Brad was having some concerns with Cierra's back, and wanted to get it checked out further. She was indeed sore, and will need some additional care. After being off for so long, we thought it would be a good idea to have Koda looked at as well. His adjustments were more standard. The vet watched him move and saw no signs of lameness. Some slight hock soreness was visible, but nothing bad. 

We talked about where we are at with his recovery, and our typical routine. It was nice to hear the time spent wrapping Koda's hocks was/is worthwhile. She wants me to continue using the hock wraps pre-ride (20+ minutes) and suggested also putting them on briefly afterwards while I untack. We are officially cleared to start loping again, but with straighter lines (vs smaller circles). 

Originally I had planned to start with lunging Koda at the lope, and work my way up. The vet preferred Koda be ridden, as long as I was comfortable doing it. I had thoughts about asking our trainer to lope him for the first time. However, I really wanted to continue this stage of Koda's rehab myself. I know enough, to know when to ask for help. I am a lifelong learner, and that time will come again. There is only one way to find out where you are at, and that is to try. 

It's hard to put into words how it felt to lope Koda again. The first time I asked, he woke up. His response was a bit like "wait, what - you want me to lope" and he did, but we were doing a diagonal across the indoor arena and had run out of space in no time. It didn't surprise me since I had been saying "no, we are just trotting" for so long. The next time he was ready for my lope cue, and we crossed the arena again.

We did some other things, so as not to anticipate my asking. He is notorious for predicting practice sequence. I tried loping again, this time at the rail. I forgot how incredibly smooth he is at this gait...it's like floating on a cloud! Koda responded so softly when I asked him to lope...I am still in awe. He held his frame and gave me both leads, altho I had to restart one side. He didn't rush, and seemed to be content loping again. It was brief, but it was. I am sooo happy to be another step closer towards where we were, together.


sunshine & butterflies ~ part two

The sun was still shining after that wonderful first outdoor arena ride, and butterflies - well, they resurfaced, but in a different way.

I turned Koda out into the pasture, and went to get my camera. Nemo and Koda meandered around the entrance, waiting for Brad to be done with Cierra. Until this past week, our little herd had not been together since Koda got injured. Nemo had been paired with one or the other, and a couple different horses have been in & out of the mix for company. However, Koda & Cierra were kept separate. There is nothing that girl loves more then to run & run & run & play, and it's so much more fun when someone joins her! Consequently our horses would get turned out in adjoining pastures, yet chose to stand together. Even if, with a fence of separation. Our horses are so happy to be pastured together again! 

Cierra joined the boys, and walked off together with Nemo to the far end of the pasture. No horse antics to be seen this day, at least not of the racing kind. Koda stuck around me. Walked over, tried to eat my camera, nudged it off-balance, gave me another horsey hug, and in general got way too close for pictures. Silly boy! I could have gotten some great nose or eyeball shots, but I had my longer lens.

Nemo came back for Koda, but he didn't want to leave. Another visiter came too close for the camera in hand, this time it was the big lovable guy...

Cierra wondered, what was all the fuss about...

It wasn't long before she had to see what I was doing as well, and stopped by for some love. Such a sweet girl! Nemo & Cierra eventually walked off together again. Koda spotted Brad making his way over to the pasture, and greeted him at the gate. Koda got his fair share of attention, then Brad called out to Nemo. After not being Brad's chosen mount, in the usual fashion, Nemo chose not to listen. He really cares, and doesn't like sharing his human. Instead, he tolerates it. We have had numerous people comment on Nemo's obvious behavior, where in the end - he pouts.

Needless to say, Brad made the trek across the pasture to see him...

...but it wasn't long before Nemo had to share, again...

...eventually Brad started back, and so did his horses. Nemo made me laugh out loud. He is so expressive, and told Cierra "stay on your own damn side" !!! 

I could see it all unfold from afar, and called out to Brad. So, he had a little chat with them about sharing. He loves them both, immensely. Doesn't everyone have talks with their horses?

They all walked back together, peacefully. Who needs halters to gather horses, when you are a horse whisperer.

And this my friends is what makes my heart sing, possibly even more then riding. Watching the human horse connection at liberty, specifically my human and horses. I could spend hours watching all things horse in the pasture. It is so telling. 

To others these may just be boring pictures of people and horses walking in the pastures, but it is so much more then that. It is a slice of time in a cherished lifestyle, captured for those with heart and understanding. Not for everyone, but it is everything to us. 

I love documenting interactions. I don't get to do enough of it. Sure, fast action shots are a thrill a minute and much easier to be found. I truly enjoy those too! But the subtle interactions, they say it all. With out words. With out being told how to stand, or smile. With out some grandiose event. It is real life, at it's best.

At the other end of the pasture, this face stuck close-by. No doubt hoping dinner would come early. The face of comical kindness, and trial. He tests me, he tests everybody. He is my teacher. 

What am I going to do with that face? Love, listen and learn.


sunshine & butterflies

Just a few days ago I posted about Koda's progress, and how much I was looking forward to riding outside...who knew that day would come so soon! Saturday's forecast was cloudy and 50's (F), which in Wisconsin means - bring layers. By the time we got to the barn, the sun started peaking out and it was pretty clear that the forecast was wrong...

riding in the sunshine
As we headed to the outdoor, I couldn't help but think "it's Spring, first time riding outside, the potential for crazy is higher..." but that quickly subsided. Sure makes a person wonder, where do those darn fear thoughts stem from?! I had no reason to think them up. Koda had been very sweet as his legs cooked (referring to when Koda wears his hocks wraps) and even gave me one of his extended horsey hugs. It's amazing how heavy horses heads are! Regardless we started our ride cautiously. Koda was really good. We added 5 minutes to our time under saddle and spent a glorious 35 minutes riding in the sunshine! 

Everyone was so happy to be outdoors, look at all the room. I'm not even taking the photo close to the rail. There is plenty of room to not be in the way when a lesson is going on. It helps me focus on what I am trying to achieve vs trying to stay out of the way.

Brad riding Cierra,
our trainer with her dog Happy curled up sleeping in the sun,
and Nemo in the pasture pretending not to watch...

when in fact, Nemo is keeping a close eye on his human

What happened after our ride is something that makes my heart sing, maybe even more then riding...stay tuned for part two.


15 weeks later

Koda has been cleared to ride for 15 weeks now, and our progress has been slow going. However, anything that isn't a set back is progress in my world. We are advancing slowly because of me, not him. There were five weeks around January that we only got to the barn once a week, consequently our riding routine stayed at a holding pattern. Now that we are back to riding three times a week regularly, I've begun to add/ask more. 

This is our current routine:

• pre-ride hock wraps for 20 minutes minimum (no clue if it's helping, but it's not hurting)
• groom & tack
• 25-30 minutes of riding, mostly walking with trotting 2X around the arena each way, and
  some mid-arena moves at the trot - both collected and just moving forward
• groom & untack

After weeks of not showing even the slightest favoritism/soreness, I stopped the brief lunging warm-up check. I have yet to add any side passing, poles, lope, or standing/tighter turns. These will come in small increments, eventually. It's a rare trail ride that is under an hour. What we need most is to increase the length of our ride for stamina. It will be easier to do once we can ride in the roomy outdoor, it's just so much more stimulating in so many ways. I am cautiously optimistic that we will be ready for trail riding season, which is coming up fast!!

One of my favorite trail riding photos,
from the last season we were able to enjoy the magical forest
photo credit: Brad



the giveaway that went away

Somehow my posts added up (albeit slowly lately) and I've reached a benchmark - 500 posts! I was allll excited, and ready to do my first blog giveaway.....and then I read this article about Sweepstakes, Contest & Giveaway laws for bloggers. I highly recommend reading it if you want to know more about what criteria is/isn't legal. The comments contain some good info as well.

Watch out if something you ask people to do is considered of value, which is subjective and pretty much everything. I am not leaving out my Canadian friends, instead I should include asking a math question (or other element of skill). Every location on earth differs in what they require and allow. Who knew the simple act of giving something away was so damn complicated?! 


I was going to have two simple requirements:

1) Follow this blog, which if you don't already you can choose to do so.

2) Comment on this post and tell me (now completely optional):

What would you like to see more of on this Equine Expressions blog?

Sorry, there will be no prize - I mean giveaway. I thought it would generate some fun, and maybe a few new genuine readers & valued ideas. I hoped to give back to this equine blogger community, that has given me so much. 


Equine Expressions was started in 2009 as a way to chronicle & share my life long dream of owning horses. Regular blog readers should know you are so appreciated & have been very helpful, you know who you are. I wish I could give you all something!! My journey continues evolving, and treasured friendships have formed in person and online. As with much of life, the best thing I can give is my time.


when spring is coming

Hello friends, long time no type! Spring is around the corner, and yet it feels like we never really had winter. We squeaked in one short weekend trip snowmobiling up north, when we actually had a little snow to enjoy. I'm no good with a camera phone, but here we are...

playing in the snow
At this point, I am ready for a different season. You too? One that includes horseback riding without ten layers on, and enjoying time together exploring the woods at a much slower pace. It could happen, but only if Koda stays sound. We have a long way to go with his rehab, but he continues progressing well. 

Our horses have been shedding for weeks now, especially Nemo - our early shedder. We know Spring is coming when it starts snowing inside the barn! His fine white hair floats around & sticks to absolutely everything!!

Coggins, vaccines & teeth floating were all taken care of last week, another sign of Spring...

Koda getting his teeth done

Brad plans on showing Cierra for the first time, and show bills have started appearing around the house. He has been taking regular weekly lessons on Cierra, his Ranch riding has really improved! Ranch classes are growing in popularity everywhere, including the Midwest. There is a local clinic offered this Spring by AQHA World Champion Mozaun McKibben, hoping Brad gets to ride in it.

The robins never left, my bulbs have been peaking out all winter, and we still have green grass. So these don't count as Spring indicators this year! 

Until Spring is here to stay, the boys will enjoy standing knee deep in hay...

poetry without motion