4.13.2018

Take Two ~ Ranch Clinic Post

Blogger ate my first carefully crafted blog post, about last weekends Doug Bogart Ranch Clinic - part one {edit expletive} so, here is my second half hearted attempt. New name, for one long combination post. I apologize to Shirley & Arliene who had already read & commented my original post. I retrieved them from my email notifications, and added them to the comments. I had started the post on my laptop, and added the photos from my desk top computer. Apparently they didn't want to talk to each other. Won't make that mistake again!
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Our trainers barn has undergone some transformation, and she has decided to host clinics. A ton of work went into preparing her place for this new venture. I am SO happy for her, our barn friends, & the horse community at large.

The inaugural Doug Bogart Ranch Riding Clinic was held last weekend. It was bitter cold and windy for April in WI. Unfortunately, the clinic had to be held in the indoor arena. It is much smaller then the outdoor, and as a photographer - to put it bluntly indoor florescent lighting sucks! When I originally agreed to take clinic photos I said "outdoor only". Which is my MO. However, I didn't want to miss the opportunity and not be part of the clinic. I had to do more editing then normal, and smooth out the grainy noise from ramped up camera settings. Not remotely my processing style. I'm holding tight to my mantra of not using flash around horses, and did the best I could under the circumstances. 
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A group of us clinic/barn contributers went out for supper with Doug the Friday night prior to the clinic. It was a lively conversation & we enjoyed hearing his sage perspective on horses and training. It revolved around horses individuality, and the expectation some trainers have. Horses either fit their style of training, or are no good. Many push too hard, too fast for their gain. Especially in the show world. Resulting in a wrecked horse. Not this guy. It was refreshing to hear. 
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There were several cancellations due to the weather. We had a good turn out regardless, and attendees came from as far as Iowa, Illinois & Michigan. There were a lot of auditors wearing winter gear, and huddling under blankets. Two groups of four horse/rider combos participated (vs 12 riders). First group were advanced riders, the second "beginners". Surprisingly, only two riders had previously showed Ranch. Doug was a skilled clinician and challenged each rider at *their* respective levels. Sprinkling in funny comments. It was really fun to watch!
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Doug is a kind knowledgeable horseman, and throughout the clinic it became very clear he is an experienced instructor. Doug had riders doing different things, based on their level of riding. No clue how he kept track of it all, but he did. Everyone really learned a lot, especially the riders. 

Here are some shots & experiences from the clinic: 


Doug Bogart

Doug coaching Brad


Cierra has a lot of go in her, and Brad continues working on the finesse of consistent light effective handling. It's not easy with a powerhouse. He got a different perspective on riding her through her excess energy, as well as some different show tips. One tip that comes to mind, is to not hold reins way up high by horses ears on an extended trot. Of course, it's all a difference of opinion - and we liked his.

Peggy & Checkers
counting lope steps between poles
Doug brought genuine smiles out of everyone
Every rider counted lope steps between two poles. Doug adjusted numbers based on each horses first count. He gradually raised the count up/down, and with some riders not so gradually. The lesson was to feel your horse extend vs their normal gait. It looked like fun, and made for great photos!


Doug & his many training poles
He strategically placed his poles, and would have made some extra $ if he collected on his coaching prompts. Especially with this 4-H (youth group) girl, who he took a special interest in. She is from our barn and was the youngest clinic rider. She is extremely quiet, but really stepped up to the plate and brought her A game. She had never ridden Ranch style before. It was a ton of fun watching her (and her pleasure horse) blossom!



I also enjoyed watching this beautiful Morgan, who worked with his owner on not riding like a saddle bred. Doug had most riders neck rein, and switch them from one hand to the other, to aid with body positioning.






There were four other horse/riders. A previous long-time barn employee, who helped train Koda & Nemo, a pretty Buckskin that did well in the beginners group, and two other riders from our barn. One who was petrified. I felt so bad for her. She was way out of her league, and really struggled to the point of tears. Doug gently included and encouraged her, when she was able to set nerves aside. 

The other rider was downright dangerous. I felt so bad for her borrowed horse. She wasn't steering him and all but rammed him into walls several times. I don't give a damn what horse your riding. If you can't steer it, get off. I was in a corner, where no horse goes, when he was loped inches into me. I was not amused. I just stopped taking photos, took cover and bit my tongue. This woman is far from a beginner and an okay rider, just didn't seem to care. The beautiful horse is well trained, and was being a good boy. Poor thing. Glad no one was hurt.

Overall it was a fantastic clinic. They even served coffee & donuts, lunch and dinner. Purina had a display. Some lucky winners took home door prizes. I didn't go on Sunday. I was still thawing out & without any sunlight the photos would have been worse.


Saturdays attendee's & second group horses

completely immersed

tender moment

Everyone is looking forward to more clinics. My guess is they will eventually bring Doug back. Doubt I'll ever ride in clinics at this barn, as they are intended to revolve around showing. I would however love to take lessons from Doug, too bad he is in another State! He is a savvy instructor who reads horses, cares about their longevity, and clearly loves teaching all levels.

If you are interested in seeing more photos, they are posted 
here.




4.11.2018

build-a-barn ~ stalls are up

Earlier this month, I was busy cleaning the endless construction dust in the house and decided to walk over to the barn. I was surprised to find the remaining stalls up, complete with grain doors. Apparently Brad decided not to wait for our sons help, and set the rest of our stalls up himself. Except for the double stall divider, it is super heavy! 

The stalls really change the appearance of the barn!! Our barn is starting to look like a horse barn! 


March 31
Our son came up in the morning to help his dad install the heavy divider. It swings against the back wall, and will be secured. I think it will come in handy, and be put to good use. Harmony & Koda seem to be prone to injuries/bouts of lameness. It could be a roomier daytime option for Nemo, when affected with allergies. Brad also wants to eventually breed Cierra. It could even be used for temporary storage. Lot's of options.


Double stall on the left, with divider.
Looks the same as the other stalls.
The very next day, Brad cut & installed Douglas Fir tongue & grove wooden side panels on the six single stalls. I got to help with the very last top pieces. Now I can say I helped build the stalls :)

April 1

view from the back end of the barn

If you are sick of barn updates, feel free to scroll on by. I want our dream documented. To relive, and better remember what got us to where we are. 

Two weeks later, our barn still looks like the above. It's a long long process when you do the building yourself. Last weekend Brad rode in a Ranch Clinic, and I photographed it (post to come) we had zero time for anything else. I wish we could progress faster, but good things come to those that wait.



3.23.2018

build-a-barn ~ two months later

It's been two months since my last barn update, and one day if you want to get technical ;)

It feels like we haven't made much progress lately. Looking back at my updates, I'm happy to see that we have. I love that about blogs!! 

I left off with the arrival of stall parts, and soon discovered a snaffu...the doors were suppose to alternate opening sides, so that the stalls could share one water pipe and have front waterers back-to-back. The openings were all on the right side, which doesn't work with our water plan. Crap!

With custom building, something will go wrong. It's guaranteed. Brad took a good hard look at past communications. He discovered we were charged for feed doors. They were not installed, and not on the final drawing. Unfortunately, the alternating doors were also not on the final drawing that Brad signed off on. Many communications indicated the doors alternate, with no feed doors - but shit happens. 

This is were working with a good company pays off. They want to make it right, and Brad feels partially to blame for signing off on the final drawing, so they worked out a solution... 


Brad set up the first test stall
they sent one feed door
he cut out the bars (laying lower right of photo)
and attached the feed door & used touched up paint they sent

I am not thrilled he is cutting up our expensive stalls, and has to do the work. However he is happy with the solution, and the company, and to be honest - you cannot tell when you look at the stalls. Brad assured me the stalls are just as sturdy. I hope he is right.


The good news is we have feed doors now lol! As for the waterers, the horses water will need to move towards the back, instead of the front. Still back-to-back, with piping in the middle of two stalls. Our horses won't care one way or the other. Guess what this means? More digging! 

The rest of the feed doors arrived yesterday. Brad is hoping our son can help him get the other stalls set up this weekend. Window grates have already been installed. 

There is still a lot of work left!! Human rooms need panel/trim work, bathroom stuff needs to be ordered & installed, waterers need to be ordered & hooked up, fans have to be installed, not to mention fencing pastures etc. Wish I could take some of this off Brads plate!! What can I say, we've been focusing on the house and just got our occupancy permit! Our house is not completely finished either, but it means I better start sorting & packing! 

Inside of the barn currently looks like this:


we have lights!

the saloon is nice and toasty
we found a good use for our freebie fan
Outside of barn hasn't changed much:


crates with stone for the columns waiting for our mason
& the truss/posts still need to be finished

We've come up against our fair share of building mistakes/challenges, and have learned to think outside of the box, not get all worked up and just resolve them. Some things just didn't occur to us, and others are just plain errors. In the end, everything gets worked out, many times for the better.



3.20.2018

first outdoor 2018 ride

Hi, remember me?! I am finally finding my way back to my blog.

2018 is turning out to be a trying year for us, and not necessarily the way we expected. Among other things, sickness of one form or another has kept it's ugly grip on both Brad & I for most of the year. We aren't completely out of the woods, but *finally* feeling more like ourselves and getting some much needed energy back.

We failed miserably at our attempt to get back to riding our horses on a regular basis. Somehow a month flew by without even seeing them :( The only thing that kept my mind at ease is knowing who they live with. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if our horses can't live with us, then we would want them to live with our trainer. 

Besides our building project and being sick, I left for a Northern Lights photography trip to Alaska for 9 days. Conditions were not favorable, we only saw the lights once briefly. I've been dreaming forever of seeing them dance overhead in color, so I'm pretty disappointed. The saving grace is all the other amazing things I saw & photographed during the day, including Dalton Highway views (featured in the TV show Ice Road Truckers), moose, caribou and the Iditarod. I've done a series of posts on my Facebook Photography page. It's open/public if interested, link on sidebar. Alaska was absolutely stunning, and I can't wait to go back someday and try again! 

I'm happy to report we started back to riding on Tuesday. Koda is a little tender on his left front, so we are keeping it at a walk. We also took advantage of a beautiful Spring day last weekend, and rode outside for the first time this year! It felt wonderful!!

Walking Koda in to tack, from their turnout pasture
I clipped his mohawk & brushed, and brushed and brushed, until I couldn't brush anymore. It's an endless job in the Spring! 

See Nemo underneath the gate at the far end of the arena?
Poor guy, he just stood there watching while we rode

Nemo was pouting, and wouldn't let Brad pet him while he was on Cierra. He is sooo jealous and wants Brad to spend all his time with him! Kinda funny tho that Koda and I were allowed to give him some love.

After riding in the outdoor, we went on a field ride
Brad has a ranch clinic coming up in a few weeks, and needs to focus on Cierra. He spent some one-on-one with Nemo after our ride, brushing his fine flyaway white hair - and that made Nemo happier.

Just when I think Koda could care less,
he does stuff like this.

Cierra & Nemo had walked off to roll and/or graze, but Koda hung by the gate. I went back into the pasture to give him more hugs, before heading back home.

2.08.2018

winter "just do it" rides

We are doing our bestest to get up to the barn twice a week to ride our horses. It makes us feel so much better to "just do it" even if in less then ideal conditions. Like Tuesday, when we were in the single digits. My winter comfort riding level typically stays above 20F, for both me and Koda. I feel frozen & guilty otherwise. With the sun shining, and no wind we decided to make the trip anyways. For some odd reason 7F felt warm earlier in the day. It was a balmy 11F by the time we got to the barn.

We never know what type of weather to expect up there, seems it's always slightly different then ours. The indoor can frequently feel colder then it is outside. Just depends. 

Koda and I don't really do much, or ride that long, but I think it makes a huge difference to just be together. Our cold winter rides go something like this: 

If it's not too slippery, Brad and I bring Koda and Nemo in from their turn out pasture. I like walking Koda in. It gives us more together time and an idea of what kinda horse I'll be working with. On icy days, I miss out to baby my shoulder...

Koda goes into his stall for a little while. For some reason, it makes me think he is warming up. I like the transition vs yanking him out of the pasture in the cold and tacking up.

On the days I've remembered to bring the Showsheen inside the house to thaw, I brush Koda's beautiful Fabio-like mane and tail. By this time, Brad is frequently already riding either Nemo or Cierra.

I awkwardly hoist the saddle up, and hope I get it close to right. Otherwise I have to ask for help... 

Once inside the arena, we walk in-hand both directions-ish and go down by the scary end. On Brads lesson days, I'm pretty sure our trainer thinks I'm nuts. Koda doesn't remotely need this, but I like how it feels. This gives us more warm-up in the winter, and allows me to tighten the saddle easier.

Depending on who is in the arena, we mostly walk, work on softening, do a little trotting, a couple turns, backs, sometimes figure 8's etc. I haven't loped Koda for a while. It's been too cold, and I like working up to it after spending more time with him. He honestly would be fine hitting the floor running, it's more for me.

Koda has been a good boy since my accident, altho I know he knows I'm weaker. It's more for my head to get out of my way, but I continue working on doing what I can.

When we just go ride, regardless of life circumstances, I am always so glad afterwards!! The big lug always leaves his hay and comes to greet us. It melts my heart, even in 11F.


Koda walking towards us
Nemo chose to stay at the feeder

1.22.2018

build-a-barn ~ fresh air

Well, it got me. I had been surrounded by sick people with every kind of symptom since before Christmas. I got some kind of stomach virus. After day four of being glued to the recliner, I couldn't take the lack of stimulation anymore. I knew I shouldn't, but Brad was working out at the land alone. Who was I going to contaminate out there? He was already exposed. So I got ready & loaded up the grand dog. It just about wiped me out. But I headed out anyways. Perhaps, some fresh air would do me some good...

When I arrived, Brad was:


working on the saloon & bathroom doors

he got the electrical sides of the paneling done on the bathroom walls

Sorry for the strange perspective. I only took one photo. Looks like the bathroom door is on the floor, weird! What can I say, I wasn't feeling well. That's my story & I'm sticking to it! 

We also measured the bars. That photo didn't work very well either lol. The bars are round, and I couldn't get the tape measure in between the small space. When I held the tape measure in front of the bars, the photo made it look like it measured out to wider then it did. You'll just have to take my word for it.

To answer Shirley & Lorie's question on my last post about the distance of our stall bars, the bottom bars are little less then 1.5" apart. Mini foals might be a concern, but we won't have any. We might temporarily board the bottom up anyways, just for peace of mind and so a little one doesn't bonk their head into metal until they get their legs.

After a closer look, the bars are slightly different widths on the top vs bottom. Top stall bars & window grate distance between each bar is 1.75" 

Jameson helping Brad check the bathroom door swing

I used to walk our woods several times a week, but for whatever reason I haven't made it out to our woods in forever. I asked Brad if he would be willing to take a break, and go for a slow walk with me. I wanted to feel & see what the woods look like again.

We walked around the horse pasture, and changed cards in our game cameras...

it's fun getting muddy
I had to stop for a break a couple times. I zoomed in from the bottom of the pasture, looking at the barn and wishing the horses were here. You must be sick of seeing barn pictures, and I miss our horses!! I was in no shape to ride, and didn't want to get everyone at the barn sick. After this week, we will get back to a regular horse schedule. I hope.

winter barn view

It was unseasonably warm, close to 50F. We almost turned back, but what I longed for was our pines...

feel the wonder
Taking that walk and getting fresh air did help. It took a few more days of laying low, but I am completely better now. Being sick sure reminds a person to be grateful for healthier days. 

Wishing you all good health!! It is truly the key component to everything else in life.



1.17.2018

build-a-barn ~ stall parts

We purchased our metal stall parts from Classic EquineWe didn't choose them at first because lets be honest, they are expensive. However, I am a firm believer that in most cases you get what you pay for. We felt stalls was an area worth paying for quality, plus we fell in love with their latches!!

Initially we were set on metal grates vs bars or wood panel. Our boys currently live in full front grates, and we really like them. We love that we can see their entire body, with good air flow. I don't recall why, but we decided to get half & half. Bars on top, grates on bottom. I think because I thought the shavings would stay in better? We learned bars & grates for all practical purposes are the same, including durability. After more thought, we decided all bars would look better. We didn't fancy up our stalls with things like yokes, or gold knobs. We opted not to put in dutch doors. Our boys have them now, and all they do is scratch and press on them. We went with the standard black, although they have many colors.

The only decorative thing we added, was a wood strip along the center. I thought it would balance the shaving guard on the bottom, and make the stalls blend in better. It gives a place for possible name plates, or maybe even a strategically placed hanger. Although I'm not a fan of hanging stuff off of stalls. 

Here are the parts, we are super excited!!


stall fronts & side partitions



stall front with areas noted


stall partition (upside down) for the double stall

It will swing to one side & latch.
The bottom half will be wooden boards, like the rest of the stalls.
The double partition is leaning up against the tack room.
The double stall will be just beyond it, to the right.

8 sliding stall doors

stall window grates
(you can see the sturdy, easy to use latches)
You may notice we do not have grain windows. We opted not to get them, so our autowaterers could be strategically and more economically placed. One water pipe comes up in-between and feeds into two stalls. Except for the double stall, it will not have an automatic waterer. It may have limited occupants anyways, we couldn't justify the cost. With sliding doors and waterer placement, a grain door just wasn't possible. We work with our horses to not be grain monsters, so it won't be an issue.

As long as I'm doing a barn update, here is the current status of our saloon:

Brad has paneled the front & outside wall!

It is going to take a while to get the stalls up. They have to be measured, set up and bolted. Brad is going to need help, they are heavy!! Before that happens, the rest of the electrical needs to be done, so they aren't working around them. 

The wood boards for the side partitions have to be figured out, purchased and installed. Eventually we will need to buy the waterers, get those installed and put the shaving guards & decorative pieces on. Never a lack of things to do!!


...imagining the stalls...

1.16.2018

build-a-barn ~ excitement is growing

Today is the day! Guess what is arriving?? 

No, not the horses. Close! Something for the horses. 

Every equine barn has them. They cost an arm and a leg. We thought looong and hard about which direction to go, down to every detail. We've used various types for many years, and visited a newer barn to take a closer look at theirs. Over the span of a couple years, we've talked with various vendors at Midwest Horse Fair.

We had these things picked out, but that companies customer service turned out to be nothing short of rude. So we went with a different better manufacturer. We were looking for quality, longevity and safety - and I am happy to say the company we purchased from has been awesome to deal with! 

Any ideas?? I've made it pretty easy to guess.

It seems like we picked them out a long long time ago. I can't wait to see what they look like in person! It will be even more fun to see them installed!! 

Our barn is never going to look empty, like this again...



our grand dog Jameson
running around the soon to be filled space

Of course, nothing will compare to when we can actually use them!! I am SO excited for this major step in building our barn!

1.12.2018

changing of the years

Brad & I closed 2017 out quietly, and welcomed 2018 in much the same way. This has been our MO for many years now. It's a good way to reflect & recharge. This much I know.

......................reflecting......................


SO much happened in our world this past year! We worked hard to get closer to living our dream with our horses, especially Brad. No need for a recap, it's all right here. 2017 wasn't all good, the overshadowing stand out calamity was my horse accident on July 30th. It changed my our life forever. I can only hope the future will include getting back to doing the things that made me happy inside & out. It's been sooo long I forgot what yoga, trail riding, target shooting, helping out at the land with machinery, and snowmobiling feels like...


Everything and anything still makes my shoulder hurt. Including sleep. Even little stuff like getting dressed, sends me up the pain scale to a 10. Chopping vegetables, scrubbing pans & vacuum cleaning are even less fun then they were before. Can you say demotivating?!! I try to keep in mind there are much much worse things. I'm just crabbier & needier, more often. Sigh. Pain does that to a person. I absolutely despise being needy!! Well, unless it's needing my morning cup of coffee :)) which Brad has made & delivered for almost 30 years! Have I ever told you how much I love him?!

I spent the last half of 2017 working on
torturing my arm exercises/stretches most everyday. In my case, pain is gain. If that was really true, I would be swinging from the rafters by now. It is very possible that surgery will still be needed to return to "normal" function, or closer anyways. It's all based on my mobility & pain tolerance. I am trying one more steroid injection next month. Jury is still out. 


......................recharging......................


High on my list of priorities for 2018 is letting go of the ridiculous amount of "stuff" in our current house. It *must* happen in order for us to move. Let me tell you this moving thing is going to be a huge gigantic ordeal! Wish me luck. I am going to need every ounce of it!! 


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I will also be taking a trip of a life time this year. Alone. Not really alone, but it's going to feel that way without Brad. An opportunity came up that was very reasonably priced, with a group of good people. I will be doing something I've wanted to do ever since I was 15, and saw my first Northern Lights. I am going to ~ live my dream ~ of seeing (hopefully!) a colorful Aurora Borealis overhead in a favorable location! I'll be joining 14 other photographers in Alaska!! I know most of them from our annual Minnesota weekend photo workshops. I've only seen the Northern Lights twice. Once when I was 15, and once in MN. I hope to change my story...


The decision wasn't made lightly, and comes at a less then ideal time. Pretty sure Brad is tired of being asked to travel to a frozen tundra to do something he has no interest in, and encouraged me to just go. There will always be reasons not to. I'm not getting any younger, and my shoulder injury is a daily reminder of how quickly life can change. So, here I am about to go WAAAY out of my comfort zone!! Yikes! 


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I think it's safe to say 2018 will be a *huge eventful year* for us, full of change!!! Bring it! I am ready!! Well, except for the house thing lol. It's time to finish this gigantic building/moving undertaking we started. 


There is no time like the present to continue living, and dreaming! Sooo many more things I want to do, once we get settled. Thank goodness all this change isn't happening all at once, that would be even more overwhelming then it already is. For me, it's always been about the journey anyways. Cherishing the steps that bring us closer. Even the hard ones. It makes everything that much more special. Thanks for being part of my journey, it wouldn't be the same without you!!



view from our deck door....someday....