he really does like horses

My son, aka "the boy who doesn't like horses",  really does like them. Just look at what I caught on camera, when he didn't know I was watching...

Our son resting on the filly, and scratching her favorite spot,
while talking to Brad. Nemo was being so patient.

...horses just love him. Harmony walked right up to him when he arrived (we were doing a warm-up get ready to listen to me lunge, with Koda & Nemo) as if to say "oh, you came to ride me?". She got some love from him too. Then I saw this...
Filly gets a hug from the boy.
Not the best picture of him, but he does like her and thinks she's pretty cool.
The hug got sweeter, then the boy realized I was taking pictures. I got a "really mom" and to that I said "really, and I'm blogging about it too". If only he knew...we think someday he will. He's such a good helpful kid, wouldn't trade him for the world, always helping out with our horse chores.

We finished tacking up, and the boy left. I was hoping to ride on the south side of the farm, where the old windmill is - but...extended family was bow hunting, sigh. So, off to the north we went. It was a nice ride, not sure I would call it peaceful tho. It's not as secluded as the south side of the farm, which is why they hunt there. But anytime I get to ride, is a good day - regardless of where it is. Especially when we haven't ridden in a week. Koda had several spooks that came outta nowhere (as most any of them do) - meaning I didn't see what he saw/felt. Nothing major, just young horses and windy Fall smells/movement. Here is my Koda, munching on some fresh grass after the ride.



her royal sweetness

Brad's filly continues to grow both in size, and sweetness. This girl just wants love ALL the time. She will stand forever for a horsey-hug. Here she is after getting her hooves picked:

She is filling out her halter a little better.
The filly (no, she doesn't have a barn name yet - don't even get me started...) particularly enjoys getting the top of her hip scratched, which can be daunting when she swings her butt towards you! She's never kicked, but there is a first time for everything. Afterwards she always looks at us like "whaaat? I just want you to scratch me!" She's not going to stay little forever, and so we continue working on her swing - or shall I say not swinging.

Fuzzy Filly
We put her out with the girls (Harmony, and resident pony Barbie) while we ride Koda and Nemo, both in the pasture/arena and out on the trail. There is less herd dynamics and we trust Harmony, so far the girls have done fine together. The whole herd always has some time together each day, but the safety of a gate continues to separate the filly for at least a couple more months. So far they all seem to have figured out kicking her is not allowed (at least while we are there) but keeping her out of ones space is okay - they are horses afterall.


crow away

There wasn't enough time to trailer anywhere last weekend but we took advantage of what time we did have, and headed out to explore more of the farm on horseback. I thought the boys did really well as we rode close to a new patch of goose decoy, considering the "windsock" type were swinging around. Shortly after we headed into the woods, and rode the entire length of the existing wooded trail for the first time. I was surprised, the trail was actually pretty clear for not being used much.

Taking a break in the woods.
We came upon an old windmill, I've never seen before. It wasn't running when Brad was a kid, he thinks it's gotta be over 100 years old.

Old Windmill
It's not a State Park, but it's private and convenient. Got me looking forward to clearing/making more trails. The other patch of woods is larger with more mature trees. There used to be a snowmobile path that ran across Brad's family farm and through the woods, so other frameworks already exists.
Nemo & Brad up ahead.

We headed back out into the open. Crows were squaking in the distant woods, and as we rode closer they got louder, and louder, until - WOW - that was the biggest spook our boys have ever done. Not sure what caused it, but all of us scooted a good 8-ish feet in a nano second. We reassured our boys. A bit later it happend again, to a much lesser degree. Koda and Nemo were on alert the rest of the ride. I'm not a fan of crows to begin with. I love birds, but not those disease carrying scavengers. I know they are intellegent, but...they can just crow away somewhere else. Needless to say, we had a bit of everything in this interesting ride.


warm autumn glow

We've enjoy expanding our rides into the lower pasture's. It's a pretty area that is tucked away, secluded and surrounded by other farm property.  We usually head there first.

Up ahead of Brad and Nemo (to the right) is an opening in the trees, an area we've yet to travel. The corn is still up in that field, it's so tall that it blocks the opening.

We continued riding around the farm, past the pasture, and all the way up to our house - for the first time on horseback. Our barking dogs didn't know what to make of it. They have only met the horses a couple times. It's hard for our dogs to understand, when they didn't grow up around them. Of course they wanted to be out of their pen, and with us. Maybe some day?

We ended our ride by heading back down to the pasture, basking in a warm Autumn glow.

My tall shadow horse, Koda.


fall colors at their peak

We liked our first ride at Governor Dodge so much, that we went back the following weekend. We didn't think it could get any better, but it did. The fall colors were peaking, as we headed out onto a path called the Woodland Trail. It included an inner loop throughout the park. After talking to some riders the previous week, who didn't think the inner loop was very pretty, I had my doubts. We knew it had several shared paths (horses/hikers/bikers) as we had biked part of the path a few years back ourselves. It made me wonder, what were we in for? Regardless, we started out and the first thing we saw was a different, yet familiar view of Twin Valley Lake. This view had peaceful fisherman on a canoe...

...soon after we rounded the bend, we started to see some Fall colors...the path was pretty...

...the colors got more vibrant the further we rode...

Nemo and one of the many red/orange trees

...the colors were spectacular...

...we could see the bluffs in the distance...

...eventually we passed a couple hikers who needed help with directions to the cave, as well as a couple who reminded me how fortunate I was. We rode over small wooden bridges, and passed a large group of nice horses that both Nemo and Koda would have liked us to join. You could see our boys think "can't we just follow them?" The winding path soon took us away from the shared path, and past yet another lovely view of the lake...

...and onto the beautiful outer loop...

Brad & Nemo
...it was hilly. When we weren't going up, we were going down...eventually it evened off. The terrain, and the views, never stopped changing. Koda had his "walk on" again, we hurried up and waited, while Brad & Nemo hurried up.  

Birch trees are everywhere at Governor Dodge, but there was one particularly bright white patch of trees that were glowing white against the fall colors, and the blue sky...

...we kept riding and saw more bluffs in the distance...

...and before we knew it some were above our heads, and these had rock climbers on them. I thought for sure that would cause confusion with our young boys, but it didn't. Perhaps because they recognized human voices. The path soon took us through other areas, and they were soooo beautiful...

...and unique. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of bare trees as far as the eye could see...

...shortly after we started the climb back down, and around, and down...

...until we came upon one last bridge. It had no rails, leaned to the left, and you could see the water flowing underneath between the gaps in the boards. The boys wanted no part of it, and I can't blame them. We also had riders waiting for us to cross, which added pressure. However those riders turned out to be the nicest people we met all day, an older couple who encouraged us to take our time. They knew. Horses have to learn somehow, and told us they had been there done that - on that same bridge. The older gentleman had a beautiful white horse, that he brought down into the water to see if it would help ours bypass the bridge. It was too steep of a decline, with running water, for our boys to find comfort in company. He also brought his horse across the bridge, but that didn't work either. It was very nice of them to take the time to try to help us. We eventually hopped off, and walked Nemo and Koda across a couple times - and then ended by riding them across the bridge. We caught up to the older couple at the unloading area, and had a nice chat. They had been riding in the park since 1953...wow...imagine the memories. They will definitely be part of mine. We parted ways, with hopes of running into each other again.  We will make sure to pass their kindness forward, as some day our three year olds will be the steady-eddies.

We have one unexplored trail left at Governor Dodge, and it's the longest (15 plus miles)...maybe next year? I'll never forget this wonderful day, we really had a great ride!


Governor Dodge State Park

For many, many years I've wanted to ride the horse trails at one of my favorite local State Parks - Governor Dodge. We decided there was only one way to find out if Koda & Nemo were ready to go solo on public trails, and that was to try it. With an absolutely gorgeous Fall day, and much anticipation, we loaded up and headed out.

The trail starts here.
We quickly learned the terrain, and the views, at Governor Dodge are varied. You never know what's around the bend, it wasn't too long before we came upon this:

Twin Valley Lake
Our first encounter, was other riders...

What is that coming up over the hill?
...they mentioned they noticed our horses looked surprised when they saw them riding up the hill. In turn they looked surprised, when I told them it was the first time our three year olds had been approached by riders. They were nice folks, altho they were going the wrong way on a one way trail. We didn't say anything about it, doesn't bother me as long as they are going slow. More meandering paths gave us different views of the lake in the distance...

...and led us to more "firsts" as the path crossed a park road. We came upon two bright orange and black striped, no vehicles allowed type, gates marking the continuing trail path entrance. There were nearby unloading vehicles, both were an ear raiser for Koda. Thankfully Nemo came up from behind and rode right through the half closed gate, and Koda followed. Up and around the bend were the backpacking camp sites. We knew the trail went near the sites, however we didn't expect a snot nosed kid pulling a wheeled suitcase banging and rocking wildly across the rocks, while dragging a big blue nylon bag (that I assume was a tent), to suddenly come around the corner. You can imagine the loud ruckus. Koda was pretty unsure. I opted to turn him around, and Nemo and Brad joined us. We stood a few feet off the path, and quietly watched as the kids passed.  The large group of campers were packing up, their tents were a'flapping, and several of them were yelling non-stop for a dog. At least we would know the dogs name if we came across it. With that behind us, came a sudden change of terrain - an uphill rocky climb, and we didn't even have to drive to Colorado!! That was challenging for our young boys, or any horse for that matter. Once we got to the top and things flattened out, we took a break here:

Nemo & Brad checking out the view.
Koda taking a break.
It was sooo beautiful everywhere you looked, including up...

The sky was really this blue.
...we continued along wooded paths, surrounded by beautiful Fall colors...

...the path led us onto open terrain.  The prairie was so pretty, we were surrounded by nature as far as the eye could see. The pictures just don't do it justice.

Along the way we passed a couple walking, with a lunging dog who was thankfully on a leash. The park has many bluffs, and other beautiful rock structures. The large boulders don't seem to bother Nemo. Koda on the other hand keeps a watchful eye on them, just incase they move. There was an enormous rock sunk into the ground, almost as wide as the path. That stopped Koda in his tracks. Nemo wasn't fazed, came up from behind and walked right across it. Must have looked like a big hole to Koda, but once he saw Nemo didn't fall through - we walked over it too. Koda is learning that rocks are okay, even if they are big and scary. We continued along winding paths...

Koda leading the way.
...and discovered Koda has another gear, a fast walk. They really did amazing considering all the new things they experienced. We are very proud of Koda & Nemo, our boys are growing up! Near the end of our ride, we found ourselves with different breathtaking views of Twin Valley lake...
Nemo enjoying the view.
...when we got back to the loading area, a few more trailers had arrived. Everyone was out riding. Too bad, it would have been interesting to meet the owners of this trailer - what a fun message:

On the way home, it sunk in - I rode at Governor Dodge, on my own horse!! Words can't express, all I can say is it was well worth the wait. We really enjoyed our peaceful, beautiful ride. We can't wait to come back!!

Twin Valley Lake was literally sparkling!


a horse filled day

Saturday was a glorious horse-filled day! We made a trip into town and got shavings, a new hay feeder and more grain for the filly, and caught-up with our favorite saddle-fitter friend! Then we hauled our trailer down to the farm, tied to it/tacked up - and headed out for a cool Fall ride! Why did we take the trailer down? Well, to prepare for Sunday...post to come :)

Riding out.
The white plastic corn filled tube looks sooo small in this picture.
It is actually very long, and taller then Koda.

Off the trail and into the open pasture.

Nemo & Brad playing with the left over cornstalks.
We covered new ground today, riding in an area of the farm I've never even seen. It was long overdue. I've been in the family well over 20 years, but never had a reason to go back there. It's fun hearing Brad talk about the family farm, as our ride sparks memories and stories. At the end of the south pasture we took a path into the woods, and saw more area's to explore in the future.

Taking a break in the woods.

When we returned, we let the filly out into the big pasture. We continue introducing her into our small herd, while we are there to supervise.
What is she doing in here?

It's okay Nemo.

They are all doing well together, but the filly will remain separate for now. There is only one of her, and 3 1/2 of them. Even the resident pony tries to put the filly (who is already taller then her) in her place if we aren't watching. I am glad we are keeping her separate, especially after hearing a story earlier today about a filly that got kicked and broke her shoulder - that baby now gets to hang from a hoist for two weeks. Brad took his filly out, and loaded her into the trailer a couple times while we had it down there - and then we called it a day.
Getting a hug from Brad, for being a brave girl.
First time loading up with the divider (no ties).
Even drinking water is more fun in the big pasture!