Sunday Stills ~ circles

I went on my first location shoot to the historic Hyde's Mill, with a local photography group I joined. The Mill's focal point is a very large circle, the wheel.

I couldn't decide between the two photo's above, so I posted them both. Which one do you like better?

Huge circle stone weights caught my attention at the mill
(my hubby thinks they were likely used to grind the wheat)

A full view of Hyde's Mill

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exciting things

We took an impromptu trip up to see Koda & Nemo yesterday. We were a couple miles from the barn, when we got a call from trainer Patty wondering if we could come up to see the boys - she had exciting things to show us! She was on the road picking up a horse for training, not knowing we were so close to the barn. Funny timing. We arrived to find the boys turned out, poking around, and looking good.

(L-R) a pony, Nemo and Koda (who was in total disbelief that I wasn't letting him out) and Brad
They seemed happy to see us, but couldn't believe we left them turned out and went inside the barn to visit. It was musical stall cleaning time, no reason to not enjoy more fresh air on a nice winter day.

Before long Patty arrived, the boys came in, and went to work right away. Patty rode Koda first. We could instantly see how responsive he was becoming. So pretty. Softer starts, not bracing against the bit, using his topline. He looked more confident, and overall much less colty. He made the lope off look easy, altho it really wasn't. He did good work on pivots, and side pass was coming along. We talked about the days he still has "nervous/bored bit play" and how they are patiently working through it. Somedays it's gone, somedays it's not.

Belle, the horse riding cat giving me a dirty look for disturbing her ledge snuggle time,
with the guy who only tolerates cats.
That's her ledge, just ask her. She launches off of it to ride.
Someday I hope to see her in action.
Nemo's progress was equally amazing, he had all the right answers for Patty - especially with us as an audience. They are so funny, and know when mom and dad are watching. Nemo continues working on lowering his naturally high head some (without aides). His lope off wasn't as smooth but still good, we could see the difference. Similar pivots as Koda, and side pass was better. He is so responsive. I know, I know we aren't suppose to compare our kids. The more I watch Nemo the more it becomes obvious he would excel at Hunt, but you'll never catch Brad in breeches lol!

Their true efforts made Patty laugh out loud. They bring such joy, and earned many a "goood boy" along with big pats & hugs. It's so nice to see other's love the animals that mean the world to you. We were smiling ear-to-ear, and still can't stop thinking about how far they have progressed in one month. She said it was in part a testament to us, because the boys arrived in good shape ready to learn more. Too many times they spend the entire first month retraining the horses. We kept them active, using the skills they already knew. I can't imagine doing anything less. It also helped that we came out to Iron Horse to ride over the summer/fall, so she could see where we were at as a team, after all - that's what training them is all about.

Patty feels Koda & Nemo enjoy learning new things, and from what I observed I would have to agree. I am so thankful we have her to teach them, and us, to be successful. Our boys really do seem to enjoy being at Iron Horse, me too. Unfortunately we had to cut our visit short and pass up riding, for a family obligation. If it wasn't for family, I would have stayed in a heartbeat. I haven't ridden since November. It's okay tho, many rides are coming. Such exciting things to look forward to!!


frosty morning

Can it get any colder? I hope not. It was -18F when we went down to do morning chores today. The girls hair was tipped with frost. I was glad to hug their fuzzy warm bodies. I had my little point-in-shoot in my coat pocket, and froze my fingers off trying to get a quick pic. Glad Brad had a good laugh, while I did a photo dance with Cierra...

Frosty Cierra

...and enjoyed watching the tips of my own hair turn frosty grey, the longer we stayed outside. I don't need any help in that department, thanks anyways Ma Nature!

Sunday Stills ~ the color green

Horse Statue, gifted from my Mother.

Looking up

Stress Relief

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happy to be back

We recently spent about two hours visiting with Koda & Nemo, and of course trainer Patty. Our boys looked great! It felt so good to snuggle them. Wish I had brought my camera with me, especially when Nemo reached out to Patty and they were nose-to-nose exchanging conversation. He has so much personality.

They truly seem to be happy back in training, they sure look it. The boys are working on how they carry themselves, strengthening their top line etc They continue to progress, and haven't switched bits yet. She mentioned Koda was doing well holding the bit quietly and not bracing, but still has his days. I think Patty is trying to work through what's best for him. He can be a challenge, not necessarily naughty, making you think/work too. I can attest to that. Nemo on the other hand, in Patty's words "just does whatever we ask him to do". He has always been more willing. 

I was kinda bummed when I asked about riding, and she suggested we hold off a while longer. Sigh. It's okay tho, I know it will be better for them (and us) in the long run. It was fun to hear about the shows, and even a trail riding trip she is busy planning. Our boys will be included in the shows that fit them, and of course in the trail riding trip. It's going to be exciting!!


The Whole Cactus - for Leah & Shirley

I posted a macro shot of a bloom from my 32 year old Christmas Cactus for the last Sunday Stills, and Leah & Shirley requested to see the whole plant. It's hard to show size. The plant is sitting on top of a 55 gallon fish tank, that is over 4 feet wide (50"). As you can see, the plant is almost as wide. Here is a photo of the whole cactus, along with it's story:

My Christmas Cactus
(approximately 47" long and 42" wide)

My mother gave me my first plant cutting when I was a teenager, it was an old fashion Christmas Cactus. She started it from a plant cutting that Eloisa, a long-time family friend, had given her. As the years passed, the cactus cuttings continued to grow as well as our friendship with Senora Eloisa. She was at our family gatherings, and we frequently picked her up to go Church on Sunday's. I remember visiting her as a young adult in Assisted Living, and seeing her original Christmas Cactus plant. I don't remember where she got it.

More years passed, and my mothers cactus plant eventually perished. Mine almost did too, when my husband tried to pan fry it! It's a standing family joke, that my two older kids clearly remember - even tho they were young. Back in the day, we heated our tiny farm house flat with a wood stove. When it was off season, that Blaze King was a sunny place for my ever-growing plant collection to catch some sun light. Apparently that Fall, when Brad stoked up the fire for the first time, he didn't see the big plant in a bright orange plastic container...I will never forget walking into the apartment to the smoky stench of smoldering plastic, and pan-fried cactus!! I was livid and grabbed the whole mess, threw it out in the lawn and said a few choice words, while trying to salvage what was left of my beloved Christmas Cactus. His name was mud, plant killer, you name it - for a while. Of course I forgave him, and we laugh about it now. My cactus was sad looking for many, many years. It slowly recovered and grew into a huge plant, but never bloomed. Years later when we moved to our new house, I did what I said I would never do - I faithfully carried that huge plant in and out of a dark closet daily, for months. I garden/grow plants based on tough love philosophy, but sometimes...Iet's just say I was trying to get my cactus back on a blooming cycle. It eventually bloomed, and continues to produce more flowers every year. I can only wonder what it would look like if it hadn't been pan fried??

I have fond memories of Eloisa, she had became a regular part of our family. When my children were young she was at every birthday, baptism, etc. until she could not attend anymore. Her only daughter lived out of town, and eventually moved her closer to where she lived. Our Eloisa was born in 1900, and reached the ripe old age of 99. I really wanted to do something special for her memorial. I so wanted to give her daughter a plant cutting from her mothers plant, but wondered how bad it would look among all the fancy florist memorial flowers and plants? The cutting was a good size, but as they typically are, it was wilted and not well established. My sister encouraged me to go through with my idea, and not care what others might think. I may never see her daughter again (and to date, I haven't) it was now, or never. I potted the cutting up in a new container, dressed it up with a bow, and stuck a handmade card held in a florist display prong, explaining where the plant originated from. I remember sheepishly setting it among the gorgeous plants, and my mother scolding me for bringing it. She recanted when she received a heartfelt thank you card to our family from Eloisa's daughter. Among other things, she mentioned the thoughtful cactus plant. She remembered her mothers plant, they had given it away when they moved her out of Assisted Living. She also mentioned they didn't keep the fancy florist plants from the memorial, but kept the cactus. The following Christmas I knew I had done the right thing, when the card she sent mentioned the cactus plant again. Eloisa's daughter said she keeps the plant in her sun porch, and when it bloomed it reminded her of her mother. 


Sunday Stills - Macro

My favorite plant is a Christmas Cactus.
I've had it for 32 years, it's huge.
Everybody loves Sydney.
My Red Dragon Tropical Hibiscus Tree brightens up the winter months.

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girl time

With Koda & Nemo up at the trainers, Harmony & Cierra have been getting all our attention. Add a couple days where Brad has been busy at shows for work, and it's girl time! I took my new camera down to hang out with them. Us girls took a short walk together, trying to avoid the ice. Harmony with her nose to the ground, Cierra at my heels, and Barbie the resident pony tagging along.

What are you doing with that black box in your hands?
After our walk Cierra returned to her favorite spot, next to the shed - a sunny spot where the wind is blocked - and she decided to...check out her response to being scolded.

"Someone else was chewing here, I think I will too"

"It wasn't me"
See, I'm not chewing"
"I'm just resting my head, my lips aren't even open"
"I am innocent"


Sunday Stills ~ the letter w

I've decided to give Sunday Stills a try, with hopes that my efforts will help me to get acclimated with my new camera. Not sure if the challenge was to find things shaped like the letter W, or things that start with the letter W? There doesn't seem to be a lot of rules on Sunday Stills, which is a good thing. If there are guidelines, please send them my way - or point me to them. Either way, with a little imagination I think I've covered both. Hope you enjoy my first photo entries, as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Sunday Stills - the Letter W:

Wine Glass
Whirls of Smoke
Winged Wonders
(L-R) Red Headed Woodpecker, Chickadee about to land, Downy Woodpecker
(The birds wouldn't let me get any closer, I should have titled this one "wishing for a telephoto lens")

Water Formations in Winter Pond

Winter Wonderland
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a while, smiles, and a new camera

Driving past the farm on my way to work I saw Harmony lying down by the hay bunk again, with Cierra standing next to her. As I glanced over my shoulder, Harmony was getting up. I can't imagine she is lonely with Cierra around to pester her, then again she grew up and spent her former years in a larger herd of around 15. Is it that? missing the boys? or does she just want to be the one going? It's all a guess, based on observation. I've been thinking about her a lot lately, and her uncharacteristic behavior. I was happy to hear, that Harmony was back to her old self this morning and eager to be fed. It only took a short while.
Brad stopped at Iron Horse today, and dropped off Nemo's hoof supplement. He told me the boys are back to work. I asked if Koda looked happy. Brad's response "when I walked in Shauna and Koda were walking out of the arena, I couldn't tell who's smile was bigger". Brad asked how the boys did, and she said "they rode just like when they left" said (and taken) as a compliment. Patty is at a training seminar, we knew Shauna would be the one starting them back up again - and that's okay with us. She is a longtime Assistant Trainer, and they work very closely together. We completely trust her, she really knows her horses. It's a bummer I wasn't able to see those smiles.
Today was back to reality. I really enjoyed my time off over the holidays. Among other things I was able to get back into blogging, spend time with the family and horses, and even picked out my new camera! Finally. I've been looking at them for about a year, and wishing for a new one forever. It was worth the wait. I won't be able to get distant shots, yet. I need to save up pennies for a telephoto lens, they are sooo expensive - it's gonna be a while. I can't wait to get out in the pasture and try to capture beautiful equine moments, until then - here is my first photo attempt, which has nothing to do with horses. We have a very spoiled water-obsessed cat, who also loves sleeping on anything soft, the king of the house - Sydney. Funny how the only other picture of him on this blog is also taken on his bed, er I mean our bed.


such a sad girl

It was time for morning chores, we took the trailer down with us to clean out the little presents that horses feel the need to leave the minute they get into a trailer. As soon as we pulled in the driveway, I knew it was a mistake to bring the trailer down. Harmony lit up, she thought the boys were coming back.  She promptly went to the closest corner to wait for them, and...it was just us humans. We didn't think it was a big deal until we fed the girls breakfast, and Harmony wouldn't come down from the corner to eat her grain. 

It's okay Harmony, they'll be back.
I took a handful of grain up to her, and she half heartily ate a few bites. We called her, hugged her, and tried to coax her to come eat what she normally eagerly awaits, and then she did the saddest thing - she lied down.
Harmony is so sad
Cierra had no problem with the boys being gone, she ate her grain and some of Harmony's too - until I took it away. We were so surprised to see Harmony acting this way. Last year when the boys left to the trainers, we put the resident pony in with her to keep her company and she was fine.  This time she even had Cierra, and when she gets turned out, the resident pony too. I began to wonder if something was wrong with her, but she is just one sad lonely girl.

Brad haltered Harmony, and got her up to walk her around. She sniffed around the trailer, and they went for a short walk. Cierra didn't like Harmony being out of sight at all, she is not a talker, but she was today.  Our comfortable little herd has been changed. Harmony was much better after Brad took her for a walk, she slowly started to eat her grain and got lots more hugs. It was Cierra's turn to get some halter attention, but under the circumstances it wouldn't be wise to take her out of the pasture - so they headed to the arena for a short leading session.

Brad & Cierra
I know the girls will adjust to having the boys gone, and then have to adjust to having them back, but who knew we would get this reaction out of Harmony - not us.


ready or not, here we come

It's here, the day we've been waiting for! Brad hooked up the trailer, and we headed down to the farm. Everyone was in the shed staying warm from the frigid high winds. They all gave us an instant look of anticipation. No time to waste, lets get the boys loaded - it's cold outside!

Uh oh, the trailer - who is that here for?
(L-R) Koda, Nemo, Harmony
Cierra was in my back pocket, silly girl wanted to put Koda's halter on. Sorry little one, not today. I wasn't sure how Koda & Nemo would load, it's been a while. What took us two trips last year, was done in five minutes - they loaded right up.

(L-R) Cierra and Harmony want to come too.
 I wish I could bring the girls along, just look at their faces!

Cierra "if I look really cute, will you let me come along"?

Cierra "are you sure there isn't room in there for me"?
Ready or not Iron Horse, here we come! With the cold wind blowing, we only cracked the trailer windows open slightly and stopped to check the boys 1/4 of the way up. Temperature inside was good, we kept on rolling. I wondered what area of the barn Trainer Patty would put the boys in this time? We arrived to find the same center aisle stalls they had previously stayed in, with open doors and a welcoming lunch! They settled right in like it was home, but wait - Koda had a beautiful bay next door named "Amy". Watching them meet was too funny, both were hamming it up. Koda's ears stayed perked the whole time we were there, soaking up the familiar active atmosphere. Nemo had a Gypsy Vanner on his other side (our boys are next to each other) and enjoyed getting to meet him as well, but I think he wished he was next to Amy! I didn't feel bad leaving them this time, they are so content.

What an exciting day. Happy New Year everyone!!