rolled into one

So much has happened this week, I’m not sure how to share it all - but I’ll try to roll the parts that have to do with Koda & Nemo all into one post.

The day before our ride, we took my saddle into our local saddle expert Kathye Dunn from Mounds to take a look at – and she promptly…ripped it apart! Understand my husband & Kathye go way back to 4H days, she doesn’t normally unassemble customers saddles in front of them. But we’re glad she did, we learned a lot from her about much more than saddles. The leather was bound up inside under the tree, causing my instant ankle discomfort. She fixed it, turned the stirrup-ups, cleaned and oiled it. My saddle now looks and feels like a dream! Kathye is amazing, people come from all over for her to solve their horse/saddle woes. She even makes her own magic leather cleaner/conditioner all rolled into one.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our anniversary than with Koda & Nemo, so we took the day off and spent a good couple hours riding outside in perfect weather! It was farrier day at Iron Horse, and the horses were a little wiggy. We knew it was going to be busy, and tried to stay out of the way while tacking up. We lunged outside, Brad and Nemo in a sandy circle area, Koda and I in the round pen, and Assistant Trainer Amanda with another horse in the outdoor area. Nemo was golden the entire afternoon, Brad loped him for the first time. Koda has had better days (or maybe it was me) so I opted to save my first lope for another time. He did plenty of great things, just a bit distracted. Lunging was uneventful, good thing since we had at it alone. While riding I learned how to correct a drunken walk (yes, horses do it too) and was reminded how important it is to keep their minds busy. We did circles, went around cones, over ground poles – anything to keep him focused.

We changed it up and went on our first ride out on a grassy field. That was fun, and went well. We are proud of our boys they did awesome on a couple occasions that could have easily been problematic for any horse, let alone a young one. Upon return the seasoned show horse Patty was riding spooked opening the arena gate that it's opened many times before (including when we left) and she rolled off. Brad nabbed the horse as he went by, and he calmed him down – Nemo didn’t flinch. I was nearby waiting to go in when all hell broke loose. We almost got run into several times while the horse figured out that the gate wasn't going to eat him. Koda could have easily gotten caught up in the air, but didn’t. They also did well when they changed turn-out in the nearby pastures, and the two fresh horses decided to run like crazy in side-by-side pastures. I know some rides will present much more of a challenge, but not today. All we got was a side-way spook out of Koda when we were at the woods edge, and that I can handle.

As we get closer to bringing our boys home, the discussion increases on what we should focus on. Iron Horse will continue working on their consistency with gate changes, departures, and open terrain riding. Hopefully the weather holds out on Saturday, so they can take that pending long trail ride. We will bring our trailer with us next week, and leave it up there so they can begin working with loading Koda. I’m hopeful he has the maturity now
to understand what is being asked of him. We look forward to bringing them home, altho with mixed feelings, and riding more than once a week. In the interim, Brad needs a saddle and both horses need bridles and bits - let the tack search begin!



Did you catch the story that is blanketing the news today? Three day old Einstein may be the tiniest horse in the world. He's a 6 lb 14" pinto stallion, now that's teeny tiny!! Hope the little guy does okay in this big world, he's definitely making headlines. If you didn't catch the story, this link includes video.


the big 3

Koda and Nemo turned three on Friday, and Saturday (respectively). It was a pleasant surprise when I got home from work and found out we were indeed making the drive up to Iron Horse. We gave the boys a birthday hug, brushing, and three (of course) carrots apiece. Their humans celebrated by going out to eat afterward, complete with two microbrew cheers - one for Koda and one for Nemo!


Nemo & Koda together as babies. This special photo was given to us by their breeder, Diane.


first outdoor ride

We arrived at Iron Horse to find our horses outside happily grazing together. Patty was working a horse in the outdoor arena, and her staff was playing musical stalls with the horses and power washing. Patty’s funny bunny was hopping around outside enjoying the weather, which apparently it does all day long, never leaving the area.

She helped us get the boys ready, the new pad we got at horse fair did the trick and now my saddle works well on Koda! Not as well for me, need to do some work with the stirrups again. My saddle has been sitting for longer than I care to think about.

I started by lunging Koda outside. We were doing good but he kept braking his stride to the left again, so Patty briefly took over demonstrating a shorter line and therefore more control. It worked for me too. I’ll just keep him on a shorter line, and let him ease out as long as he is listening.

We had three (four for a short while) happy horses and riders enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather. Nemo and Koda were well behaved. I did get one slack response when I asked Koda to re-start trotting. Patty reminded me to change/increase how I ask if I don’t get the answer after a couple times. It’s especially important to not keep repeating the same request the same way and not get the right answer, when they are young and in training. Makes sense, and worked right away. Koda’s a dream to ride, I think we are a good match and I couldn’t be happier with my boy!

Brad and Nemo also had a good ride, and are equally as well matched. Nemo was a bit of a fuss-budget at the end of our ride, while we were talking and when dismounting. They were feeding inside, and he wanted to be done. Patty had Brad get back on Nemo so he could stand correctly while he dismounted, and he did. I have to say, what the boys are doing “wrong” is minor and the correction comes right away – a sign of good training. I’m glad they are picky at Iron Horse about their listening & ground manners, as we all know that's where it starts.

We chose to forgo our upcoming Saturday ride, to further their training. Patty & staff are planning a 3-ish hour long trail ride down the road and onto a trial, and our boys are ready for more training. I would love to watch, but it’s probably better if I don’t have that picture in my head lol. We’ll get our owner training on the trail, after they do the initial ride. Altho we would love nothing more than to ride again this week, they are ready to progress in their training – after all, that is what we are paying for. It’s very important they get solid trail training for our current scenario at home, as they’ll be ridden outside in unrestricted areas a lot.


we interrupt this life...

...to bring you 3 days of nothing but horse at the Midwest Horse Fair! The only bad part of this weekend is that it didn't include Nemo/Koda. We miss them a lot. We look forward to riding them twice this week. I talked to our trainer Patty, she said they have been training outside and the boys were having another good week. I was glad to hear Koda was doing better with his bit.

We did the majority of our shopping at Fair on Friday, and found many good deals! Friday night PRCA Rodeo sold out. Personally, other then the hands-down funniest clown ever, I wasn't impressed with PRCA for various reasons. A clock/horn or something other then delayed announcing of the contestants timing after the fact would have been a good idea, especially when our coliseum has these available. Nothing against the announcer, he was fine - but seriously they could do better - this is a timed event, in front of a huge crowd. Guess I've seen a lot of rodeo's, and expect more in this situation. Saturday's Grand Prix jumping was fun to watch. It was complete with HUGE bright jumps, ramped up tall warmblood horses, and riders with nerves of steel.

I'm not sure what my favorite part of Fair was this year?? It might have been the freestyle duet routine
performed on Sunday by 15 year old Moriah, with celebrity Richard Winters. Moriah won the Midwest Horse Fair Wind Rider Challenge. We saw a lot of Richard at fair, and liked his style. Ruben Villasenior's Saturday Bosel clinic was good too, as was his cute intermission performance with his young 10 year old daughter on Saturday night (both riding stallions). Ruben also performed with his Kiger Mustang stallion on Friday night. That Kiger stallion is gorgeous, and sooo well behaved - he was drawing a lot of attention. He is only three, and has been with Ruben training for about a year. He used him at his clinics, as well as some of his performances. If you were at Fair this year, what was your favorite part??

Unfortunately, I have no visuals to share. I purposely left my camera at home, so I could live the fair instead of watch it through a lens. I checked youtube, but found none of the above performances posted - yet. Think about horsin' around and joining in the fun next year!
Midwest Horse Fair has presenters/participants from as far away as Canada & Oregon, and is always held the second weekend in April.


a better ride

Today was our second ride, and I'm happy to say it was even better than the first! While the start of our visit wasn't ideal , it was all good in the end. I even bribed "the boy who doesn't want to ride horses" into coming along so we could get some photo/video, they are posted at the end of this novel.

We arrived to find the trainer was running behind, understandable & no big deal, stuff happens. We were asked to saddle and lunge our horses which we prefer to do ourselves anyways (after all, they are our horses). However, being brand new to the place presented it's challenges.

Brad started things off and lunged Nemo in half the arena, while the other half was being used. He came out and wanted me to go in, um...okay. I had my big girl pants on today, so off we went to lunge. I was at the far end of the arena, Brad & Nemo were back by the stalls, and Patty was in/out of the arena trying to help everyone. Koda did good, except he wasn't always paying attention to me. He did everything I asked, except lope to the left. He would take a couple strides, then his lazy butt would go back into a trot. I'm sure I looked silly trying to crack the whip (which I couldn't do with the one I had) and get after him. I tried everything I could think of, except smacking him. I thought about where I was positioned, what part of his body I was staring at, what cue I was giving verbally or otherwise - whew, I worked up a bigger sweat then Koda did lol. In reality, it was probably the best thing for me. I had no one to lean on but myself. At least he did everything I asked to the right, including lope. When hubby came back into the arena, we switched horses and he briefly took over lunging Koda (just like the old days) and of course the little shit did everything Brad asked right away both directions, go figure.

The earlier appointments eventually left, and the rest of the visit was nothing but great. She apologized profusely many times, we accept it and realize everything can't be perfect. Patty asked how things went with lunging, and I told her. Next visit she will work with me on lunging Koda again and said the same thing hubby did, I need to smack Koda on the butt and make him listen when he doesn't. My whole horse deal is the fear of doing something wrong, and not wanting to mess up my horse. We discussed this in length, as well as his need for me to be a strong leader especially at this stage of his life. Patty reminded me it's better to make the mistake and learn from it then to never make the mistake at all. I completely get it, but it won't be easy.....for me. The odd part is, I'm actually "a leader type" in other parts of my life - so I know I can do it, with practice. Brad's word of advise to me "treat him like you treat me" ha ha very funny. Patty briefly rode Koda first, she must have needed to know Koda was in a good frame of mind before I got on - and he was. Let the riding begin!


The boys did everything we asked at the walk & trot. No loping yet.

Nemo is a hard worker, and he's smart. He is already off the martingale.

A short clip of Brad & Nemo in action.

Koda continues to listen well but has not ma
de much progress with his mouth/playing with the bit. He stops playing when he goes to work at the jog, but when walking/standing it's a nonstop chompfest. Therefore this past week they went to plan B with him, they leave the bridle loose (without reins) in his mouth all day. It sounded harsh to me. She showed me how/why they do it, to teach him to hold the bit in his mouth. It seems to work, he scoops the bit up and quietly holds it in his mouth. Koda has had his mouth checked at least twice and had work done on his teeth both times, including recently. We talked about the use of different bits, and possibly using a bosal with him.

The past couple visits he has had a dry cough likely unrelated to the bit issue and more likely to be allergies? They are watching him, everything is normal (eating, no fever, same goofball behavior etc) except for the occasional single dry cough. To be on the safe side I will be calling the vet on Monday morning to discuss his cough, and mentioning his bit play. The cough doesn't seem to be bothering Koda, but I want to make sure.

Koda & I switching directions at a jog.

A short clip of Koda & I in action.

Listening to Patty.
I wish I had a tape recorder with me when we visit, she teaches us sooo many things I can't possibley remember them all.

We had a good day. I'm happy-tired, and I love that feeling!! Even if this isn't the best picture of me, it says it all!


first ride

We had a great first ride, the beginning of good times to come! When we arrived, the boys were already saddled and tied patiently waiting for us with Patty nearby. She greeted us, and shared she had to do some shuffling of her plans (consequently no assistant trainer today) it was different as we usually help get the boys ready. The five of us went into the indoor arena, so she could watch and help us get started. I've done little lunging over the years, an area I'm not very comfortable with, therefore she started with Koda & I. He listened well, but briefly got confused when she walked away to help Brad. It wasn't pretty but I caught it in time, and we continued circling. Koda probably thought "I'm going with her, she knows what she's doing". I had myself pretty worked up inside by the time we were done lunging, for no reason, things were going fine.

Patty pointed out that Nemo was doing his choppy movement thing while lunging and needed to reach more. With little correction, Nemo changed his movement. They had started Nemo on a small martingale this past week, to help teach him to keep his head down. Patty was so, so proud that he had figured it out right away! It was as if he said "oh, you want my head down here? well, why didn't you just say so". She hopped on him quick, so we could both see how well he is doing. What a noticible change not only in his movement, but in him. He was a quieter Nemo, and moved so pretty. I did have my camera with me but with both of us handling the horses in the arena at the same time, I had no one to take any video/photos :(

Brad briefly did a walk/trot on a lunge line, and was sent off to work on their own. Patty had picked up on his many years of riding (everyone does) as it really shows. Nemo & Brad are matched up so well, wish I could have watched them more but Koda & I had to get back to work. The whole time we were watching he kept trying to put his bridle on, silly horse. First things first, Patty showed me her way of mounting without a block. Sounds lame, I know. I've had many others show/tell me, always try it, and never succeed. I've always had to find something raised or get a leg-up. For whatever reason, first try and - wait a minute, I'm up?!...then mounted. Sweet. Patty explains and shows things so well. We walked/trotted on the lunge line, she said our legs were great (both Brad & I, and added we are way ahead of the game) however I need to remember to sit back so my torso is behind my hips. Patty was ready to send me off on my own, but I wasn't so we spent more time on the lunge line. Guess I just needed to be more comfortable with Koda before heading off on my own. I'm pretty dissapointed that I wasn't braver. Then again, I've never ridden a young horse. Other than one spook, which earned me praise, Koda was solid and gave me no reason to worry. 3 of her reiner friends showed up for her next appointment, and joined us in the arena. They were very nice, I'm sure we'll be seeing more of them. I eventually went off on my own. We worked all the horses together, it was a nice calm ride with good coversation. Patty had me work on keeping Koda's attention, he was interested in socializing with the new horses.

Other updates: Both boys did great getting their bridle path clipped. She said they didn't even flinch. I found out they are getting daily water baths. They began working outdoors a few weeks back and get sweaty/dirty, they get washed every few days. Makes sense, it's been regularly getting up into the 70's. No wonder the boys are so clean, and silky smooth. Brad told me later he checked on Nemo's cinch sores, two little minor spots. Didn't seem to bother him, he rode awesome. We are scheduled again for next Saturday. Hopefully I'll have my game face on. We really look forward to future rides, shows, comaraderie and learning from Midwest's best kept training secret - Iron Patty. It was a day to remember. I leave you with a photo of a rainbow I took standing in our yard after we got back. It came out of no where, and vibrantly bounced off the closest unplowed field while I ran into the house to grab the camera and capture what remained. It receded back into the horizon, but was still a sight. Thanks for sharing this special journey with me.