forbidden area

The past couple weeks have flown by, riding has come to a screeching halt. Too cold, too dark - and just plain too busy. It's been a challenge for me to get home in time for evening chores during the week, thank god for the weekends!

Just before the weather got really cold, we put our herd together 24/7. We had gradually increased their time to spending full days together, making the transition smooth. We also made some adjustments to our set-up. With winter weather looming, we reduced the size of our feed storage area so they would have a larger covered area to share. It does mean more trips hauling the large bales, but it's worth it to give them the space they need. We also took down a fence, and opened up the back pasture. 

The gang was ready to help when we arrived.
(L-R) Koda, Cierra, Harmony and Nemo

Hasn't the filly gotten big? and she even has a name - Cierra.

Cierra, just shy of 6 months

Everyone learns to adjust to being fed in the same area.

Breakfast is a beautiful thing

Cierra really likes to hang around Harmony, who is such a nice mare - she lets her. She would make a really great mom.

Cierra likes Harmony's grain better then her own,
we gently remind her - that's not her pan.

We feed what is left of the hay, and get ready to haul more...

Nemo investigating the forbidden area

The hay is better on the other side of the fence

...keeping them out of the way can be a challenge...

Harmony and Koda waiting for the hay fairy on wheels to back out

Koda cleaning up after everyone


devastating fire

Send these horse rescue folks help, if you can...what a horrible tragedy....


UPDATED Wednesday, November 24, 2010 -- 4:45 p.m.
By NBC15's Dana Brueck
In Rock County, a barn fire has devastated a horse rescue. The operators say more than two dozen horses died.

Footville firefighters got the call around 8:45 Wednesday morning to the property on Old Highway 11.
"I didn't realize how much it hit me until I walked back in there again, and it's pretty bad." Inside of Jim Bondowski's shell of a barn rest the remains of more than two dozen of his horses that were rescued by Bondowski and his wife.

"I heard a couple of popping sounds ... with deer hunters been hunting out there." "I looked outside... I seen the horses running... and I could see black smoke ... and flames out of corner of building."

Bondowski rushed to save his animals but was overcome by the smoke and flames. "I could not see ... I could hear horses screaming, hollering... to get out ... and I ran to the closest one where the fire was... and I got her out and kept going and going." "As soon as we opened the doors, the flames with the oxygen... the total barn went," he says. The fire consumed everything Bondowski says he needs to operate the horse rescue. He still has more than a dozen horses who were outside when the fire erupted.
"Hay's gone, grain's gone... halters gone... blankets burned ... medicine... dewormers... everything."
Firefighters believe a faulty heater or an electrical problem caused the fire. They do not think it's suspicious.

The Bondowskis need the following supplies: blankets, halters, lead ropes, hay, grain, bedding, grooming equipment, OTC vet supplies, heated and regular water pails, barn shovels, hay forks, 3 electric fencers and materials, dewormers, wheelbarrow for manure, hay bags, wall and corner feeders, saddles, bridles, pads, harnesses, and cat supplies

A fund also is being set up for H.O.R.S.E. That's the name of the organization.
It's at M&I bank in Janesville.
100 North Main Street
Janesville, WI 53545
(608) 754-7771


May the gentle equine souls that lost their life in this horrific fire, rest in peace. The good news is, about 27 horses survived -  and they need our help. Give your horse an extra hug tonight. I will.


got that feeling again

We took a couple days off to spend some time together in celebration of my birthday, and enjoyed the last day in a string of gorgeous weather at Iron Horse. Koda & Nemo were intrigued when they got out of the trailer. This familiar place was active with different horses, puppy, playset, people etc. For any new readers, we had our horses trained there earlier this year. After a short not so focused warm up, we joined Patty and friends in her large outdoor arena. It is always sooo great to go there, we caught up on as many things as we could between riding.

Wasn't too long before we had company...

Four deer grazing by the trees (pony on the left)
...Nemo kept a watchful eye on them, and everything else. He was a little more distracted then Brad would have liked, but kept working with him.

Brad & Nemo backing up
I was pleasantly surprised how well Koda & I did. We had not done any arena riding in a long time, opting instead for trail rides while weather permits. We don't run our young boys on the trail, so faster gaits have pretty much been non-existent. Patty mentioned how good our trot looked, altho Koda could be taking to the bit better (at times he braces against it). Nothing terrible, just in need of reminders. It's easy to feel, the putting it all together part I continue working on. Of course I said thanks, and mentioned "ohhh just wait til we lope, it's been a long time". We all rode around using the bridge, poles, transitioning etc - so many options.

Patty and King Kitty taking a break, on top of her horse Claire.
It was fun to see how a young quarter horse had come around on her final day of departure. Maddie is pictured in the background above. We were at Iron Horse when she arrived with little to no handling, and saw her regularly since our boys were living there at the time. She was a handful, but turned out to be a nice trusting mount. After saying good-bye to Maddie and her owner, we talked about future plans for Koda & Nemo. We are saving our pennies, and plan to take them back to Patty's sometime in January. It's a good time of year for them to advance their learning (and ours) and be where there is an indoor arena. Not much outdoor riding to be done in January, in WI!

Taking a break with my Koda-bear
Break time was over, and we went back to riding. Koda and I started to lope...wow...we earned several sincere compliments! It was our best ride ever!! Koda was listening to everything I asked. Not what I expected at all, after such a long time out of the arena. A testament to his good training. He was sooo smooth and must have somewhat looked how he does when Patty rides him, because he sure felt like it. Since he was listening, I was able to concentrate on other things like my hands/seat - so quiet, no lifting. I LOVE that feeling! It was such a nice controlled pace, he stopped, started and continued when asked. Amazing. We took more breaks, did other things - and more loping. Not too much, but just enough. I was so busy enjoying myself at the time to really think about what was happening, but that night when Brad and I went out to dinner - it hit me. I had to choke back the tears. I never thought I would feel that way again. I had made a hard decision years ago, and said good-bye to that wonderful "we got it together feeling", when I left the lesson barn I used to ride at years ago. The feeling of pure enjoyment. When everything around you stands still, and together, you effortlessly - float.


hold that thought

Friday night I came rushing home after work with hopes of riding, only to realize - it's too late and too cold. Probably a good thing we didn't force a ride, the horses were kinda grumpy (or maybe that was me) and just wanted to be fed.  Altho our Fall weather has been awesome, the reality is - it is getting colder and winter is looming. Add today's "Fall back" daylight savings time and, it's really going to get dark early(er).

Funny husband looked at my blog and said "looks like your still unwinding from Monday", yep it's been one of those weeks. On Saturday we waited for it to warm up to the mid-40's, and saddled up. Headed south, and...there's our sign. Brother-in-law's truck, they are hunting. Sigh. We made a loop, backtracked and headed out to the north. They soil saved the corn fields in that area, which rerouted our outer path making the ride shorter. I have now officially become fond of soybean & hay fields, those are easy to cross and provide good footing. Pretty sure that's not why they plant them, I'm just saying.

There was a cool stiff breeze, adding a little spunk to the ride. Particularly with Koda. One never knows what is going on in his calculated mind, but the last few rides he wants to go - and to that I say whoa. I remind him he doesn't get to pick the pace, and he listens. We intentionally walk most of our rides, not only to savor the moments but to teach them. We do add spurts of trotting, so they can practice the transition. There will be plenty of years to run, right now our young boys need to gain relaxed confidence. I have no doubt they can fly like the wind, and some day we will.

We came upon a sloped area that must have something living in the brush, it separates the soybean/hay field and always raises Koda's ears. On this ride Koda decided to side pass down hill, then added a couple slow motion jump/lope type moves he sometimes does (not sure what to call it, it's not a real gait). It wasn't really a spook, but what was he thinking? It made me laugh. I'm not much into doing side pass pirouette type moves downhill. Hmm...maybe he could do Western Dressage?  Brad and Nemo were behind us, I asked "what was that? did you see anything? did Nemo spook?" Brad's response "no, Koda just wanted to dance with you" lol. Silly boy.

We rounded the bend, and headed towards home. From behind I heard "look Aurora, isn't that a rainbow in the horizon?" and it was! A short strip of colors, peaking out. That's odd. We typically only see rainbows after a rain, when the sun comes out. Wow, there was another one over the farm buildings...

view of the farm in the distance
we are riding in the middle 1/3 of the large north fields
...unfortunately I wasn't able to capture it in my photo. The second rainbow patch was right above where our boys live. Must have had something to do with the cool weather/sun position? or maybe it was simply a colorful addition from a greater power, adding to my birthday ride. I will hold that thought.


unwind a Monday

No time to lose. We met down at the farm tonight, got saddled up and headed out on a familiar route with what daylight was left. We both had a busy Monday, but it didn't take long to unwind. The temps were slowly dropping, and the air was crisp - it felt so good to be outside. We watched a hawk coast away, before we approached the last big tree on our way back home.

sunset ride

the things you get to see

We took advantage of the awesome Fall Halloween weather we had today, and spent the majority of it cleaning up the small woods in the pasture. The recent heavy winds made a mess out of it, cracking a few trees in half...

...and scattering dead/weak branches of various sizes everywhere.

The good news is we had plenty of help...

(L-R) Nemo, Brad, the boy who doesn't like horses, Harmony and Koda.
I started out cleaning up the back pasture, which wasn't nearly as bad.

...even the filly. We would gather wood from right underneath her, she didn't care. She followed us all around, hoping to collect more hugs. And when she wasn't doing that, she was exploring...

All this picking up commotion was exhausting, just ask Nemo. The horses decided to watch from a distance. The bobcat zoomed back-n-forth, chainsaw was buzzing, large tree branches were being dropped - nothing fazed them. Infact they all fell asleep, except for the filly. I was on gate duty while the big branches were being hauled, the bucket got filled too fast to walk back-n-forth. Worked for me, I got to play with my point-in-shoot which is coming in very handy.

Harmony & Nemo

Harmony thought Nemo had a pretty good idea, and joined him to rest on the ground. The filly had other ideas, she thought Harmony should stay awake and give her attention.

Brad rescueing Harmony from the filly.
She had a few secrets to tell Brad...it cracked us up.

The things you get to see when you spend time just hanging out with your horses, are priceless. Here is by far my favorite moment, and picture of the day. Brad and I watched Harmony's head go from resting on the ground (pictured) to slowly bobbing down almost to the ground, before someone woke her up. Gee, I wonder who that was? She was so sound asleep. Such a sweet mare.

Harmony in deep slumber.
We went back to work to finish cleaning up the woods, until the next windy storm. One of our daughter's came down to help for a while, the extra hands made things go faster. Wouldn't be so bad if it was our wood, but it's not. Extended family reaps the benefit of the cut wood, but we gain our horses safety - and active family time spent together. Between loads I snapped a few more pics...

Nemo & Filly hanging out together.
...wasn't long before Koda joined us in the woods again. Only a couple more loads left...

...and we're done! We took care of a few more things down at the farm, and headed home for a short break...

Koda and Nemo, buddies since birth.
...and then...we hit the trail for a well earned Halloween ride! We headed south toward the old windmill, only to find a huge tree had fallen and was blocking the trail - bummer! Luckly the corn had been taken down in the surrounding field. We rode in an area I've never seen, it is really secluded and vast. I couldn't believe how quiet and peaceful it was! I hope we get to explore more of that area again, before the snow flies.

There was eventually a clearing to the other end of the path. We hopped off and led our horses up over a rock pile, through a branchy area, onto the path and out into the open. We rode on for a while, noticing how Fall had changed the area. Now that most trees have dropped their leaves, you can see past them. Eventually we headed back home. What a great way to spend Halloween!

Enjoying the view of the lake, on our way back home.