hay, this looks like supper

The weather in WI has finally cleared up, makes for gorgeous riding! We’ve been spending more time riding outside the pasture this week. The boys have done pretty well, including when separated. There are lots of buildings, machinery and different terrain to experience. They cut the hay, which allowed us to take in a much longer trail ride. I’ve never been on that part of Brad’s family farm. It was beautiful riding in that rolling field. Koda kept looking down as if to say, “hay, this looks like supper”! We passed a big buck, and saw a couple turkeys along the way. As long as we don’t run into the pack of coyotes I occasionally hear back in that general area, I’m good.

On our way back, I was glad Nemo and Brad were behind me when a car pulled into the farm and proceeded up the path until they saw us, and pulled over to wait for us to come down. I couldn’t see exactly where they were waiting. I thought they were still on the path, so I took the alternative route. I came around the building and crap; there wasn’t much room to pass between the vehicle, tall corn and equipment. When we got close Koda hesitated and took one step back - but there was Nemo. I cued again, and we walked through the scary stuff. I’m always glad to get a little help from a friend! Turns out it was our nephews in the vehicle. I’m sure they weren’t planning on running into us, and I’m glad I didn’t run into them - via air transport!

Yesterday did bring out some attitude from both boys. Koda’s water induced backing showed up when we headed down by the road. There are two big culverts where the water is supposed to go under the highway. They didn’t care about the giant culverts, but they sure didn’t like the mushy ground and standing water. Neither one would cross it. I chose not to get into a battle with the highway nearby, and turned around. We headed straight back to the pasture to work on crossing the larger puddles. I corrected the second backing episode. He did listen and cross, but the issue is clearly not gone. Earlier in our ride, Nemo gave Brad a crow hop type buck while maneuvering the end of a lope. That was a new one. Not sure what that was all about, but he didn’t do it again. We’ll see what fun tonight brings?!


transition home

It’s been a busy week since Koda & Nemo made the transition from Iron Horse, to home. They were in training a month longer then we had originally planned. It made such a huge difference, and was worth every penny. It allowed us to hone what we learned, and so much more. We feel fortunate that we were able to give our boys 120 days of incredible training and care. Let me tell you the training shows.

The transition home really couldn’t have gone any smoother; they eased right back into a familiar routine enhanced with riding. We brought them home last Sunday night, and started riding Monday. Much to my surprise they both did everything we asked. I was expecting some attitude, but neither one showed any. Instead, they really look forward to us riding
them as much as we do. It’s a great feeling!!


Koda's back home, still a curious hungry boy.


Nemo's back home, and keeping track of everything.

We’ve had a couple very minor issues, such as the need to start tacking in the same area (for now) so it’s clear when it’s time to go to work. Not a surprise with the location change. We don’t have a barn or aisle mat for them to relate to what they are being asked. It quickly became a non-issue when we designated an area, they figured out when play time was over on day 1. We have since had a few high-headed moments, that quickly subside. I’m sure as we continue to ask more of them things will pop up. 

We haven’t finished our outdoor arena, so we’ve been riding in the pasture. Even if it was done, it would be too wet. As many of you know, WI has had a ton of daily (or better said nightly) hard rain – and we all know what that brings. Mud. We haven’t been able to fully work the boys like we would like to, it’s too slippery. Regardless, we miraculously got four rides in last week. A couple ended with sprinkles as we got into the truck to leave, which soon changed to heavy rains later in the evening. We’ve been doing the typical short lunge warm-up, progressive riding, and then started adding a short trail ride on the path where we used to walk. As we all know another thing rain unfortunately brings is mosquitoes; the nasty’s end one's desire to trail ride in a hurry.
I really miss Iron Horse, especially the camaraderie. But it's a trade-off, we love taking care of our boys and seeing them daily. Hoping to ride together sometime soon.


Too hot, and slippery, to run and greet our humans.

The boys got the past weekend off between the rain, hockey tournament, and going to a grad party (3 down, one to go). Little time was left for anything more than feeding and hugs. Today however it's back to the new routine, and then we added barrels (walk/slow trot) – that was fun!!


our last training ride

We had a slice of perfect weather, with no rain, for our last training ride at Iron Horse. The outdoor arena was still too wet to ride in, so we rode in the field again. I’m glad Brad & Nemo got a chance to experience it. It’s very different from outdoor arena riding in that there are no rails or obstacles to guide the horses. They really need to listen to their rider, and watch their footing. What a fun and free feeling, trotting and loping among the swaying grass and pretty scenery!
We changed it up and took a short trail ride on Patty’s property, and then headed out to the road. Along the way we did a little puddle work with the horses. Koda did good, of course the size was no comparison to what we faced last week – but I don’t care I’m walking through all the puddles I can. Patty wanted to see the geese that chased after some of her other horses earlier in the day. We never did see them, just the gawking llamas. I’m thinking it’s a good thing we didn’t have a run in with the geese, occasional cars were whizzing by at an arms length. Why the dipsticks don’t slow down and move over is beyond me. The only thing that gave the horses concern was the big black spooky mailbox wrapped in some strange white material straps. I’m not sure if the straps were holding it together, or decorating it, but all three horses would have rather not been walking right next to it. Of course they didn’t have a choice, but it did raise some ears. The only big scoot came from Nemo. They all did better the second time around. We headed back to the field to ride around some more – and as usual, several hours had flown by having fun. It was time to head in. I’m reeeally going to miss Iron Horse…it won't be our last training ride there forever, just for now.


spotted surprize!

I entered a naming contest on Fern Valley's blog, and placed second. I had fun learning more about her beautiful appy's, and trying to name the spots. If you haven't already, check out her blog - it's one of my favorite reads.

I received the fun (sur) prize in the mail yesterday! We grabbed our mail on the fly, and I had to wait to open my package. The suspense was killing me. It had a rounded hard edge...was it a holder of sorts? nah, it wasn't heavy enough - then what could it be?? I soon found out.

It was an awesome hat, that actually fits my large noggin. I don't have many hats, cuz they never fit right. This one does. I now have my first Appaloosa apparel!! I don't have a lot of pink, but what I do have is treasured. My favorite t-shirt is "Tough Enough to Wear Pink", which will match nicely. My new hat is comfy and well made, I can already tell it too will become my favorite. I'll think of Fern Vally every time I wear it!

But wait, there is more! I also received a cowboy angel pin, complete with a saying, to put on my hat. I've never seen a cowboy angel before. I am a believer, and love the pin!
Thank you Fern Valley for the wonderful gifts!!

See photos, and read angel saying below.


Nemo’s bladder procedure

We arrived earlier this week to find Nemo in la-la land, with trainer Patty holding him steady and giving him some love. It was odd, and kinda sad to see Mr. Personality all doped up. Brad relieved Patty, and took over care of his sweet sleepy boy. Vet Dave was able to make it earlier then expected, and we had just missed his procedure. We were however able to see the end result, and talk about the procedure with him.

They sedated Nemo in order to be able to insert a catheter to flush what I believe was a sterile saline solution through his bladder. They used a clear bag of sorts, at the end of a clear tube to pump it in. What came out was an entire bucket full of watered down urine, and at the bottom was an unbelievable amount of thick butter colored calcium slurry. The calcium was a consistency similar to very fine sand, that clung to the bottom of the pail.
We were all in awe not only at the amount, but how it sunk and hung to the bottom of the bucket. No wonder Nemo had trouble pushing it out. Poor guy.

Dave had manually worked Nemo’s bladder to push the calcium out, and said his bladder felt much smaller without all that stuff in there. He did another ultrasound, things looked good. Dave finished up by giving him a preventive shot of penicillin, and told us to watch him for an infection from the catheter. I asked what to look for. He said constant short bursts of urine, and that if Nemo was to get an infection it would show up within the next couple days. He also suggested when we take him home and put him back in the pasture, to put small salt shavings in his grain during the summer to keep him drinking water. His hope is now that the calcium build-up has been removed, it will be easier for Nemo to push out a regular amount. In our vet’s 25 years of active practice, Nemo is only his third case. With all the bajillion horses in and out of Patty's training facility (also in the past 25 years) she had never heard of, or seen, calcium build-up. It is that rare.

Brad put Nemo back in his stall to finish waking up, while Patty & I tacked up and went out to an open field to ride. Altho I felt bad Brad couldn’t join us, we had an awesome ride – just the two of us (well four, including our mounts). She has such a pretty farm, and with all the rain we’ve had – it felt so good to be outside. After our field ride, we went on a short trail ride on her property, and then headed inside so she could work with her next appointment while I did some arena work. I asked Brad if he wanted to ride Koda, and he did for a little bit. Not sure if it was my saddle, or my pooped pony, or combination there of - but he wasn’t too thrilled.

Nemo had started to lie down in his stall, and we all got a little concerned. I suggested Brad walk him now that he was awake, while Patty called vet Dave. He wasn’t rolling, but kept lying down. She thought he was just uncomfortable, and needed some bute. She was right, that’s exactly what vet Dave said. So Patty gave him some, as well as a block of salt to push around. Nemo seemed better, and started to eat. I think she could tell we didn’t want to leave, and assured us she would check on him. It was SO hard to leave Nemo…if he was home, we would have slept by his side and never left. In Patty we trust, so we headed home. Brad drove up the next morning to see Nemo, and said he was his old self. They were getting ready to work him. It was business as usual.


you want me to cross what?

We finally made the anticipated trip up to Iron Horse for our second trail ride. With all the rain we’ve had, we weren’t sure we would be going anywhere but the indoor arena. I didn’t care, as long as we rode. It had been a whole week, but who’s counting…besides me.
We didn’t have enough riders to warrant taking two trailers, so keeping with our goal of seeing how Koda handled our trailer we loaded the boys, took them for a spin, and then unloaded them. You should have seen the look on their faces when they got out of the trailer and were back at Iron Horse lol. I’m happy to say Koda continues doing great. No time to waste, into the next trailer they went along with Sweetie. You may recall she went with us on our first trail ride. The six of us headed off to Ukarydee (also known as Castle Rock). It was a lot longer of a drive up then we expected, but well worth it. It rained most of the way and magically stopped shortly before we arrived. You gotta love it when that happens. All the way up I wondered what we were in store for. It’s one thing to ride in the rain at “home” where you can quit when you want to, yet another to be wet and cold out on a new trail. Of course we were the only ones riding in the park with the shifty weather, which actually was very serene. The wild flowers were in full bloom, what a variety! Bunnies and deer were scooting around. We were surrounded by quiet nature with pine plantations, open prairie areas, and oak forests. The trails were mostly sand, but as expected we ran into several muddy puddle areas. I quickly learned Koda doesn’t like crossing water/mud. Great.
This trail ride was a big step up from our previous ride for all three horses, and about as challenging as Patty suggests we get this season. I agree. We all switched around leading, following, riding in the middle – and yes, not wanting to go into the puddles. Thanks goodness Sweetie stepped up as the older puddle horse, or I’d still be there trying to get Koda to cross the water. Nemo had his puddle resisting moments too, but with Sweetie’s lead he crossed them all. Koda proved to be the real challenge. This seems to be a reoccurring theme. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?!

On my first attempt crossing a large puddle with Koda, I allowed him to walk on the edge vs right smack through the middle. It was about 6 feet to cross. I was feeling pretty good that I was successful in getting him to move forward. Of course I didn’t expect him to walk on the very edge, and then shy, which found my knee smacking against a tree. That felt more like pain then success. It only takes once to remind a person to not allow that to happened again! With that determination we made it across various other water puddles of different sizes shapes and lengths, much better - until they got larger. We got stuck on a larger puddle, about 10 feet to cross. That’s where we started the back-up “ I’m not going in there” routine. After many attempts to move him forward, Patty asked me to back him in. If he wants to back, then back him right in. So I did, and it worked – actually we turned around mid-puddle and walked forward through the rest. And then “dun-dun-duuuuun” (that’s the sounds of scary dooms-day stuff coming up) is it even safe to cross that HUGE no longer classifies as a puddle, ‘er body of water?? Six pairs of eyes got reeeal wide in a hurry. The river was behind us, in front of us looked to be an overflow flooded trail pass…so we decided it should be okay to cross. Our tall puddle horse went first. Even Sweetie didn’t like the feeling of the even gooshier edge, but mid-way she waded on through like she crossed bodies of water everyday. Nemo also eventually made it through with their help, however Koda and I didn’t. We got to the edge and out came the “you want me to cross what?”…I tried, and tried but Koda kept backing, jiggin’ and wiggling. I remembered an earlier arena ride when I tried to out stubborn Koda, this time when Patty offered to help – I accepted it right away. I knew by the way he was acting it was beyond me to get Koda across something that big. I could keep trying, but….between the slippery mud and tight area I just didn’t know how far I was willing to go. The only thing I hadn’t tried was dragging, I mean leading, Koda across. Wasn’t likely to work with the footing, depth, and his resistance combined. Not to mention I would have gotten sopping wet. So Patty and Sweetie came back across to help us, and we switched horses. Now, let me tell you what a difference that was. Sweetie has pent-up energy to spare, and has spent her life making her own decisions – and here we are together for the first time in a stressful situation. So we waded, checked out the path ahead, and stood still for 2 point 2 seconds before doing it all over again. She can’t stand still (Patty is re-training her). We would stand for a short while, but with nowhere to go, or even dismount, back across the water we went lol, several times. I felt better moving on her, then feeling her energy fuel while standing still. Besides, we needed Sweetie’s help to get Koda across.

I didn’t feel too bad about not getting him to cross. Patty had to get off Koda twice herself, and was having a lot of trouble too. It was a tough situation. He had stopped thinking and was about to get himself hurt. The water was around a bend, and there was such a small open path area that he couldn’t keep stepping back further and further. If he did, he would have hit a small decline that would have landed him into the real body of water behind us – a guaranteed disaster. How do you tell a horse that, when they aren’t thinking? Apparently he hadn’t noticed it, he was so focused on the water in front of him. She had to be kinda hard on him to get him to stop backing and reacting with random movement, that was anything but forward. She felt bad. We all did. But it could have gotten ugly. Koda needed to start using his brain so he didn’t get hurt, or hurt someone. Sweetie was calm (for her) as we stood in the scary body of water trying to give him reassurance the goopy mud wasn’t going to swallow him up. Patty doesn’t think Koda’s deal is a water depth thing, she thinks he doesn’t like the squishy feeling under his feet. Who knows. That over flow was about 30 feet to cross and forever long, not something you can go around. It was about 2 feet deep. Thankfully, Koda came to his senses and just plain ol’ gave in and plodded through the water for Patty – and every puddle thereafter.

We continued on the trail for a while before switching back to our original horses. Whew. Altho it was fun to be on a tall energetic horse for a while, I really don’t know Sweeties pent-up quirks and didn’t feel like flying today. I couldn’t believe how different the two horses felt underneath me. It was night and day. I was very happy to get back on my Koda! The rest of the ride was uneventful. We were all tired, and believe it or not relaxed. We had all experienced a beautiful ride with a high level of learning. We were very proud of our mounts, all of them. That was a challenging ride for our young horses.

I’d like to go back to Ukarydee, in dryer weather (surprise, surprise). Altho I hear the bugs get bad, but it must be absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Regardless, we’ll go back. In the interim, I’ll continue working on Koda crossing water!


what’s going on back there?

Before we rode last night, our vet Dave did an ultrasound of Nemo’s bladder to check things out. The ultrasound is done rectally. He wasn’t sure how Nemo would deal with the procedure. Amazingly he stood for the whole exam without fussing. Altho you could tell by the look on Nemo’s face he really wanted to see what was going on behind him. I think he found out, without looking.

We watched the ultrasound screen with Dave, and learned that Nemo doesn’t have any stones. It’s a good thing. Stones must be removed surgically. However he does have a build-up of crystals in his bladder. He shared every horse forms calcium carbonate crystals, but they usually go unnoticed and are deposited naturally. In Nemo’s case they are building up, and may have been for a while. As you can imagine complications can occur if the crystals are left to continue to build up. We didn’t get into those details, not sure I want to know. Dave recommended a funnel procedure to try and flush the crystals out. Hopefully it will work, and they won’t reoccur. Unfortunately the reality is that Nemo will be more susceptible to a reoccurrence. There is medicine to help control the build up, but we’ll stay away from that unless needed. It’s hard to pick up on the problem, and we are thankful to the Farrier at Iron Horse, and Assistant Trainer Shauna who noticed Nemo’s odd tinkling behavior on separate occasions.

It doesn’t seem to bother him, and he rode fine. Patty couldn’t be available for our ride, so Shauna took her place. She did a nice job. Brad got a few new pointers on working with Nemo, and helped me with my lope too. She’s awesome. At one point I was on the wrong lead. I couldn’t tell. If that was Koda’s wrong lead I’m in trouble, it was pretty smooth. Other then that, it went even better then last time. I think Fern Valley was right, perhaps we turned a corner.