face of hope

Yesterday while waiting for the farrier, I watched in awe as Harmony and our daughter Ali interacted. It's been forever since I've seen the two of them together, and I had all but forgotten the bond they have. Not sure who I was more amazed with, the daughter or Harmony.

After clipping bridle paths, and grooming, she hopped right on Harmony bareback and halter rode her around in the pasture - in shorts. Harmony obeyed every request both on the ground, and while mounted - even after such a long time off. Ali is such a natural with animals, something she inherited from her dad. I only wish I had half their natural ability.

Horses can be so forgiving, this is when it all sunk in:

Ali & Harmony and Brad & Cierra

Yes Harmony, I know...

Ali trying to figure out what is so special about the horses favorite corner.

Havin' fun & trotting around
Nothing is as heartwarming as a horse and their girl...

Harmony's girl knows all the right spots
...and the feeling of hope...

Ali & Harmony

...something I saw and felt, over and over again this weekend :)


Sunday Stills ~ In the Sky

I almost came up empty handed! This weeks challenge, can be anything in the sky, planes, clouds, birds or just about anything. We had overcast blahhh weather all week, and then tonight...just in the nick of time!

Sunset, Water Tower

Sunset, Bird on Post

West Clouds, from my Yard

South Clouds, from my Yard

Double Rainbow (left side) taken with my old Fugi, from my yard last summer

Double Rainbow (right side) taken with my old Fugi, from my yard last summer


everybody learned

The day after my mishap on Koda, it was all hands on deck - or in this case, horse. Each time my phone rang, more was revealed on what caused the unplanned incident, and a recovery plan of action. 

My first call was from Kathye, our saddle fitter. Of course she felt absolutely terrible, I knew she would. She has a huge heart, works super hard to help both equine and human and is extremely knowledgeable. She really thought she was moving us into a forever saddle. Even experts misjudge things, the good ones learn from it and make it right. I know that will happen. Kathye had just found out about our fall when she called, and insisted on rescheduling her appointments that day to make the long drive right away to Iron Horse to check out the situation. She would call me after.

I missed my next call. Trainer Patty left a message saying she was checking out Koda with Kathye and Shauna, her talented Assistant Trainer who went to school for equine massage. Shauna had found a sore area on him, and I should call her to get a thorough explanation. It was more then the saddle.  

What I found out from Shauna, is that Koda has been sore for a while. She said his longissimus (large back muscle) left side, by the withers, had a 4 1/2 " surface knot. She worked on him a little and got it to start releasing, but what she found underneath was a deep 2" long knot that had likely been there a while. She thinks he was overprotecting it, causing other buildup and reactions - much as we humans do when we get sore. Shauna does Shiatsu Massage, and suggested a course of action that would help him heal and learn he could release future pain. My lucky boy is going to get long massages for several weeks, all I can say is what about me??!

Kathye called back, and along with the above told me her interpretation of Koda's reactions as they searched him over, and retried the saddle on him.  Sure enough, it rested on his sore spot. When that new saddle rolled up/forward it would have really made him uncomfortable - especially with the added downhill pressure. She further explained other things, as they were checking on him. I pictured her rubbing the mint healing ointment on Koda, and his pathetic "soaking it up" face.  Wish I could have been there... 

We also talked about a different saddle Kathye is leaving for me/us to try on him. It has the same long tree as my Circle Y, similar fork, but wider bar. Could my old saddle have been the culprit of his sore spots? She didn't think so, stating Koda would have been sore on both sides of his withers. It could have been a lot of things. Whatever caused it, the deeper knot has been there for a while and likely contributing to what I have been experiencing for a while, a different Koda.

I haven't had a good nights sleep since I fell, rehashing things and searching for answers. Of course it doesn't help that every movement I make is a reminder. I called Trainer Patty back, and discussed the above and what's been on my mind. I had been thinking, if Koda is only sore on his left side - could it be related to mounting? They had thought similar, she planned to begin working on alternating mounting sides and so will I. 

I also asked her about the new saddle I rode in. It's a trail saddle, if it flips up - how can it be for trail and who is it good for? Simple answer, a short backed horse. Something Koda is not. Short tree = short back, makes sense to me. I am sure there is more to it, or Kathye wouldn't have even suggested it.

We also discussed again about how to address his reaction to something not being quite right (aka bucking) and the fact that his sole job is to take care of me - no matter what, and he didn't. I would like to believe Koda didn't intend for me to fall off, just stop the pain/scariness of the situation. While I can make excuses for him up one side and down the other, and some are very real and justified - the reality is, trust has been broken and has to be rebuilt. The only good thing about all of this, is that everybody learned.


not part of the plan

We had two rides planned this week, the first included trying a new trail saddle during our lesson at Iron Horse. I was happy with what I saw, and more importantly felt. I currently ride in a suede seat, but found the glove leather to be equally as comfy and not remotely slippery. The skirt and tree were shorter, and saddle overall lighter. Both our trainer and saddle fitter were pleased with how I sat in it, my legs wrapped around Koda much better. We all thought it was the perfect saddle. However when I asked for a lope, instead I got a - whoa, a couple of bucks from Koda, the horse that has never offered a buck. Something is not right. 

No big deal, I sat it fine but Trainer Patty asked me to get off regardless. She rode him around before letting me get back on. They both thought the new strings on the saddle may have surprised him. I didn't think so, he's the type of horse you shake a bag at and he looks at you with "so what or can I play with it" but who knows, maybe? She reassured me they would work with the saddle & string tomorrow. In the interim, we tied the strings up and finished out a nice outdoor arena ride on a beautiful day. That made me super excited for the second planned ride - our first trail ride of the season! A golden opportunity to try the trail saddle again, before deciding on purchase.

We were invited for a three hour ride on a mutual friends property, whom we have to thank for introducing us to Trainer Patty. We hauled Koda & Nemo, Knight (her Arab), and a Fjord pony named Saunder, all in training. It was a gorgeous spring day, something we have had a shortage of this season.

We were greeted by Sue and her friend Shari, along with her seasoned Arab named Chance. All five of us tacked and warmed up our horses before heading out. Shortly after we came upon a steep sandy hill, great for working the horses. All of us went up and decided it was so much fun, we should do a repeat before we head out on the flat trail. What happened next, I'm still trying to come to grips with...

When I rode Koda down, he started to slide and the new saddle rolled forward and flipped up. I fell forward, and bumped my head on the horn (or something?). He got scared, started to buck and I lost my balance. I tried to get oriented and pull myself up, but once sideways on a strange saddle...I let go with a thud! All I could think of was please don't step on me, and thank god for the sand. Ouch. Eventually I caught my breath, and signaled that I was okay. Just stunned. What just happened? I was sitting way back, and have ridden many hills. After several "are you okay" and "thought you had it"...so did I, but...not sure who was more upset, me or Patty. She wasn't happy. They work hard to prevent things like this from happening. She was checking Koda, and easily rolled the saddle forward and the back of it lifted way up, no wonder... 

We switched saddles and horses. I walked back to the arena with Saunder sporting the new saddle. Patty walked Koda to help him work out his fear. Poor Koda, he really really scared himself. I couldn't convince them to go on the trail ride without me. I felt terrible that I had ruined our plans.

Eventually Patty & Brad went back to ride the hill with Koda & Nemo, and Sue and her friend stayed with me. I was surrounded by really kind hearts. They had been in my position, and didn't make me feel stupid. Even Saunder, who I had never met, was kind and gave me "feel better" muzzle kisses. What a sweet guy.  Once we all regrouped, I got back on Koda (with Patty's saddle) and rode a little in the arena before we all headed out on the trail. In all the years I've ridden, I've never fallen off a horse. Needless to say, it was not part of the plan. 
My back was really sore, not on the side I landed but instead on the other side. Not surprised, I twisted my back as my legs were flung over the saddle. I was worried about Koda, he was one big knot. We tried to enjoy the beautiful paths, but instead of soaking it up and snapping pics I was watching for another explosion, while he was tenderly walking and watching. I did get a couple minor spooks, but he did great on the bridge. Pretty sure we were both happy to get back to the trailer.

It was a tough nights sleep, and morning, but I am slowly feeling better. Still can't get it out of my mind. I look forward to hearing what our local experts find when they re-evaluate Koda, the saddle, and his odd behavior. It was no one's fault, stuff happens.


that day has come

At the newly turned age of four, Koda has grown into a muscled wide guy. Our saddle fitter Kathye has been checking him periodically since we've been riding, and helped both Trainer Patty & I make pad accommodations to fit his ever changing body. It helps that Kathye knows my older semi quarter bar saddle well, and has taken it completely apart on more then one occasion to resolve past issues. I bought it used, and have owned it for many years. It has served us well as both my daughter & I have ridden in it on several horses. Harmony also out grew this saddle, I'm guessing Cierra will be next in line. 

I knew it wouldn't fit Koda forever, and that day has sadly come. Pad adjustments no longer help. It is just not sitting right on him, tipping forward, channel barely fits etc. Kathye really doesn't want me riding him in it anymore, which mean's I'm back to borrowing at least until I find a different one. The last thing I want to do is make my horse sore. What a bummer!

If you don't work with someone who specializes in saddle fitting, I highly recommend finding a trusted experienced one. It's a unique valued specialty, and can resolve more problems then one would think. In my opinion, it ranks not far behind a good farrier. It's not about buying new saddles, it's about comfort and fit for both horse & rider. Sometimes that does mean a new/different saddle, even when you really don't want one.

Kathye is bringing a Billy Cook to our lesson this week to try out, she thinks it's the forever saddle for me and Koda. I only hope I can feel the difference, and it suits me well (it's already been fit on Koda). My guess is she'll be spot on, knowing me and my current saddle (that I really like, in case you couldn't tell), saving me endless hours of hit and miss saddle shopping. Not a good time to buy a saddle, what an expensive year it's been - and it's only half over! If only I could find that elusive tree, you know - the one where money grows! 

Should be another exciting week, I'll try to take some pictures!

Sunday Stills ~ Looking High, Looking Low

The object of this challenge is to either get low and shoot up at an object, or get directly over an object and shoot down.

I find myself doing this a lot, and submitted high/low shots from recent excursions - some more directly angled then others.

devils lake
Devils Lake

mossy flower
Mossy Flowers (Devils Lake)

devils lake valley
Valley View (Devils Lake)

window looking up
Skylight Window

Bear Thoughts

top o' the lantern
Lantern Top

light pole
Light Pole (unedited)

Look high & low for other's Sunday Stills


Sunday Stills ~ Doors and Doorknobs

This challenge can include all sorts of doors and knobs, handles etc…I started at the farm, and then shot my 3 beloved lantern doors, and ended with a door from our Mother's Day hike.

When I asked my brother-in-law if he knew of any doors/doorknobs on the farm, he suggested I go down to the local bar - there are several doorknobs that hang out there! We had a good chuckle, but I opted not to go that route.

Small Barn Door

Large Barn Door

Large Barn Door Handle

Old Outdoor Lantern, w/ door & latch

Small Indoor Lantern, w/ door & latch
(cherished gift from my one of my Girl Scouts)

Large Lantern Door

Lantern Door Knob

Lantern Door Glowing

Devil's Doorway

Open the door & visit other Sunday Stills


ladies in waiting

While Brad does his magic rope tricks...

magic trick

...Harmony keeps her eye on me...

 eye on me

...after chasing asking Resident Pony to get out of the forbidden storage area, she decides it's a better idea to wait by the gate for her dad to put her away...

resident pony

...Harmony comes over to see, what is taking so long...

are you coming

...Cierra is wondering the same thing...

what is going on back there

...nothing magic about patience, it's a virtue.


it's all about Wednesdays

We've been riding Koda & Nemo 1X a week, more often then not on Wednesdays. Things are going well, and I think I am over the funk I found myself in the past weeks. Nothing was wrong, but nothing was particularly right either. I questioned what I was doing with Koda, and why. I was barely looking forward to my rides. He didn't do anything wrong, the rides were fine.

We had set goals back in January, but it didn't seem like we were progressing or even working on them and therefore wasn't sure if I even wanted to anymore. Add to that, my saddle is starting to fit Koda weird (I have semi-quarter bars, he is muscling up and growing wider) and spurs felt odd. I can't just drop in once a week and feel like a successful team, too many new things and no (much needed) repetition. Not to mention I am used to structured lessons, we are hands on owners and I just plain ol' feel disconnected. Altho I heard Patty and Brad say I'm riding better then ever, I wasn't doing anything different. Really, I wasn't.

Koda is doing awesome with his training, I can see/feel that. However I need a plan in my head, even if the plan is no plan, or made spur of the moment. How does one know how to get anywhere, when you don't know the path well enough and can't practice.
What should I be working on. I know I was over thinking things, but had to have one of "those" hard conversations that thankfully ended well. I needed to know more then "everything is good". It felt like I was just riding a different horse, arrround in circles, going through the motions. Do you ever question what you are doing with your horse?

Until this past week, we've had to ride in the indoor arena at Iron Horse. We have had a very wet cool spring. With all of the above settled down, other then the saddle fit which we are actively working on figuring out, it felt soooo good to ride outside!! I threw my first rope off of Koda, opened/closed a gate and dragged a log. I've never done any of those things before on horseback. The log was easy, I'll need practice tossing a rope so I don't look like a total dork. The gate was the most challenging. Koda did great, and was very patient while Patty showed me the correct way to position him to open/shut the gate. We also worked on side passes, turns, loping and stops. I really had fun, and am looking forward to practicing next Wednesday!!


Sunday Stills ~ Rust

The challenge was rust; pay close attention to the lighting, since the angle of light in the sun can have some pretty cool effects on rust. All I can say is I had sooo much fun!!

Waiting for Titus



Pothead - the other side

New way to fasten your pants

Sculpture closeup
WW Missile head


View more of my rusty photos, and other Sunday Stills.