a surprise arrived, after hay day

Earlier this week we got big square bales, yesterday we went back for 200 small ones. The combination should be enough hay for the rest of the year. Nice to have that taken care of. The guy we buy our hay from runs endurance races, with his Arabian crosses. It's always interesting to hear how other's are enjoying their horses!

After our hay day, we returned home to find a surprise had arrived in our mail box! I won a generous prize from Shirley's Ride a Good Horse foaling contest, and ordered two black gear straps from Mrs. Mom. They will become part of our trail gear. She makes things out of parachute cord in many fun color combinations, that can be unraveled to use in an emergency, and even put back together. The usage possibilities are endless. If you haven't already, check out her site (linked above).

As you can see, I also received a handy lanyard and bracelet! Thank you Shirley & Mr's Mom - it was a wonderful surprise after a long hot day of work. I'll think of you when I use them!!


crickets and creeks and steps ~ oh my!

Before we bring Koda & Nemo home, and the show season goes into full swing for our trainer, we wanted to take in another trail ride. We couldn't find anyone to join us, so Brad, Patty and I headed out to White Mound - and once again found an adventure!

It was a warm sunny 86 degree's. The trails had opened four days earlier. I wasn't sure what we would find on opening weekend, having only ridden these trails once before. We arrived to find only three trailers, not bad. One group was at the camp site/unloading area, we never did see the other's or anyone on the trail. Their horses were saddled and grazing, and loose...pretty darn bold if you ask me. They grabbed two of them after we unloaded, but let the other two wander around. Whatever. We tacked up, did a short lunge warm up and headed out - starting off with a challenge. Someone had set up camp in an undesignated spot. We had to walk past their tent, scary outhouses, and right next to hanging blowing clothes, bags, and a mirror on a clothes line. The recent fire that was put out got wonky looks from the horses too. Let's just say we all got off. Brad & Nemo eventually rode around the outhouse/tent area. Once past the scary stuff, Patty got back on Lena  (a young Haflinger in training) We went right from the scary campsite, to the road. Great. Falling off while road riding was fresh in my mind. Starting out with Koda ready to jump out of his skin at the campsite, shot my nerves. I opted to walk the road. This wasn't how I wanted to start my ride.

Brad & Nemo led us onto a trail that was varied, and beautiful. Parts of it looked familiar, and we were happy to find they had marked the trails a bit better then our first visit. We rode the trail now occasionally marked as number 7. We rounded a corner and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by thousands of crickets ~ the ground was alive!! The crickets were making noise and hopping everywhere, the trail was completely blanketed with them. Koda looked down the entire time trying to figure out what the heck those jumping things were that engulfed his feet. We had a good laugh, none of us had ever experienced cricket-land. It was surreal.

We all took turns leading, and rode in and out of different terrain - forrest, grassy plains, across park roads, and very hilly woods with steep declines. We came upon the same hills we had dismounted on our first ride at White Mound, due to the slippery wet conditions. All the horses took the hills slow, and did great. There was a lot of down hill riding. One would think what goes down must come up, but we went down far more then we ever went up. 

At one point on the grassy open trails a huge Tom Turkey jumped out of the bushes right next to Lena and Nemo, all three horses jumped and spun around. I thought, here I go again...I grabbed my horn and this time managed to hang on and regain my balance. Patty was delighted, but in all honesty I didn't do anything different then the last time this happened. I looked up, Brad and Nemo had already walked up the hill. I didn't think anything of it, but called out for him to wait.

Brad and Nemo leading the way

We crossed a swampy area, and came upon a creek. Nemo and Koda have never crossed water. Patty thought her mount had, but wasn't sure. Our boy's didn't want anything to do with getting swallowed up by the mud that preceded the water. Brad dismounted and walked though the small creek, but Nemo jumped it! He encouraged Nemo to trust, and eventually rode him through the mud and creek over and over. The haffie followed him and walked right through it, funny how they all have different strengths. I just didn't have it in me, so I dismounted and held Lena while Patty rode a shaking Koda. With the help of Nemo, they eventually convinced Koda it was okay. We switched, and I rode Koda through the creek too. He took it slow, and did a good job. Later in the ride, we all crossed a different creek with ease.

As if all that wasn't enough of an adventure, we found ourselves on a different challenging part of the trail. While riding through the woods we came upon large blocks of hardwood timbers strategically placed on the trail, to stop erosion. At that point Patty was leading, her mount wasn't too keen on the wood blocks. I decided to take the lead, Koda and I hopped up the first one (it was a big step) and maneuvered around others. It changed into a narrow path with barbwire on one side, and a small patch of scrub trees between us and the campers. What we found next, stopped us in our tracks. You couldn't see the end of a steep rocky downhill narrow winding path, with more large blocks of wood - did I mention it was really steep? Once again fearless Brad and Nemo took the lead, Koda and I went next, and altho Patty thought about dismounting she chose to ride it. It would have been hard to lead a horse in hand. Once again all the horses were rock stars, as we worked in teams, slowly weaving and maneuvering the advanced rugged terrain. Definitely not a trail for the faint of heart, horse or human.

A few paths later, Brad and Nemo led us back to the trailer. How does he do that? I'm married to a GPS, good thing too - I need all the help I can get!  We were a happy thirsty, sweaty, and tired bunch.

My sweaty boy, Koda

After letting the horses graze and cool off, we headed back to the barn. They were pretty happy to be going home. I wonder if they liked the adventure as much as we did?

loading up
Patty and Lena getting ready to load

We unloaded the trailer, and tucked our boys into their stalls. On the ride home I found out why Brad and Nemo uncharacteristically rode away after the Tom Turkey scare. He said he was pissed. Huh? He had been thinking about my saddle. Firmly stating "it's not you Aurora - I know what I saw, and it's the saddle (fit). When the horses justifiably spooked, said he easily saw 4-6 inches between my butt and the saddle...and I never should have caught air". Nobody else did. I never used to catch air during anything similar. The horses turned and went sideways, there was no hill or lift. I know why, I am perched. I've been saying this since day one. Nobody's fault, but my own. I gave in, and stopped mentioning things like the way the cantle pushes me forward. I'm fighting it. I really needed a saddle and had been on a very long search so I payed for it, and still am (in other ways). I've tried to change the way I ride...and am very far from an expert, but it's throwing me off balance. It's all okay, until something goes wrong.

In the past, I never gave saddles a second thought - I rode in whatever. A person shouldn't have to change the way they ride. Now I'm always consciously thinking about it, the whole dang trail. Not much relaxing going on. Imagine how Koda feels. All the carefree stuff I loved is gone. Maybe someday I'll find "it" again? My saddle tree is narrow, it's comfortable, it's pretty and yep it makes me sit up real nice and straight - not so important on the trail. It stinks, I really like everything else about my saddle but I'm stuck with it for now. I'm tired of thinking about it, and surely your tired of reading about it. We have other rides planned. I'll just have to keep my guard up. Not sure why, but for some reason my husband's comment made me feel better.


can't believe it happened again

Our first trail ride of the season was in April, right off our trainers farm, with a group of eight riders. We knew our trainer, and assistant trainer Stephanie, the other four riders and all six horses were new to us.

As we headed out the driveway, and rode past all the scary mailboxes, barking dogs and rushing horses, we were thankful to have a nice man named Fred and his trusty 20 year old quarter horse in the lead.

Our trainers mount was unexpectedly wired. She was really surprised, he's been in training for a while now. He has trail ridden, but she has never taken him. We progressed onto a neighboring friends farm, riding towards the dykes. I was right behind Patty when her horse pulled a lone ranger, spooking at something beyond the trees. She hung on, and wasn't happy that Mr. Showhorse was acting like a nut. She proceeded to ride him off and on, but ended up dismounted much of the way.

We finally arrived. Up the sand hills we rode, through the grassy meadow, and out towards the water. It was pretty exciting, wasn't sure what to expect. Brad & I rode across a large pile of blue slate rock pieces that bridged the path, with water seeping underneath. Others dismounted, it was scary if your a horse. We rounded the corner and wow, are we really riding out there?

Heading out to the water

It was beautiful. I've never seen anything like it. We were about to be surrounded by water, as far as the eye can see on either side of a narrow strip of grassy land.

the strip
On the strip, surrounded by water

Patty warned us about the water rushing underneath one particular area on the strip. The water exchange makes a weird noise that scares some horses. Koda and Nemo wondered, but walked over it. Good horses, maybe they knew it was that or swim?!

We gave the horses a well deserved break after we all made it across safely. Not much water fowl to be found, but it was a breathtaking view.

taking it in
Brad & Nemo taking in the view

We left the serene area and headed back on the road encountering unusually heavy traffic, taking to the ditches, where ever we could. We were almost back to the farm when an oncoming white van that was going really fast decided to move back over, even tho there was no other traffic on the road. It swooshed over right next to Koda & I, and Stephanie and her mount, who were right behind us. Not sure if the horses had not seen the van, or more likely it was the energy it created - all I saw was a flash of white heading right towards us. Simultaneously both horses abruptly turned away towards a short steep dipped ditch. Stephanie and her horse stopped, Koda and I didn't. He went down, immediately up and I lost my balance - thud! I can't believe it happened again...I almost stayed on (famous last words) but was so off balance - I just let go. Koda was scared. 

I am very thankful that farmer tilled me a soft landing spot, my shoulder would have otherwise been in bad shape. After I caught my wind, I opted to walk back. Patty wanted to ride Koda, so Brad handed me Nemo, and he walked her spun up mount appropriately named Hottie. When we returned to the farm, Koda jumped scared as Patty got off him.  Poor baby.

I had no energy left to remount, and needed a mounting block, but I got back on and rode. We walked and trotted around in the arena. I'm not mad at him, it wasn't his fault. I simply lost my balance. It's just ironic, we rode all the scary stuff with flying colors - to fall off so close to the barn. I know I didn't stop riding, not with my current saddle.

I can't help but wonder, am I going to fall every first Spring ride from now on? I just feel so bad this keeps happening. I reminded our trainer how I have felt perched since day one in my saddle, it certainly doesn't help. It wasn't as bad of a fall this time, and I landed in a soft spot, but still...I fell off, again. It's only twice, but it's two times I would rather have stayed on. I know it's a risk we take, but something is not right.

The following week in our lesson, I rode in Patty's saddle, and also tried another. We briefly worked on auto-shifting weight after pretending to be off balance. I'm not sure where to go from here, but I'm too damn old to be hitting the ground. I have to figure something out...I might not be so lucky next time.

Sunday Stills ~ The Color Pink

Altho not a pink person, it is one of my favorite colors in flowers. 
Enjoy various shades of pink from my yard.

Clematis (Dr. Ruppel)

Peony Bud

Ant Plant (Peony Bud)

Carefree Rose Bush

Black Lace Sambucus

Knockout Rose Bush


Midwest Horse Fair 2012 ~ in review

I was pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed fair this year. Not that we haven't in the past, just weren't all pumped up about anything specific. Maybe that's good? I had one thing on my shopping list (a straight pair of spurs) and no plan of action. We had not seen this years key presenters in person, and weren't sure what to expect. The big three were Al Dunning, a well know accomplished horseman, Guy McLean, whom we had never heard of and then there was Linda Parelli. Things quickly changed when we sat down to watch our first clinic, Guy McLean's "Creating a Solid Foundation Part 1" it was then that I knew what our priorities would be at fair.

I cannot say enough good stuff about what we experienced watching Guy.  At the foundation clinic he worked with someone's filly, talking through what he was trying to accomplish and why. It all made sense, the rough spots he encountered were the most telling. We could have watched him all weekend. He is one of the most gentle trainers I've ever seen, definitely has horse running through him. We liked how when things didn't go right, he worked it into a teaching opportunity. If you haven't heard of this Aussie, here is his website. Guy's other clinics, and evening shows, were done with his beautiful Australian stock horses. 
Guy McLean
He is an equine performer, and puts on an impressive show with his bull cracking etc but let me tell you he comes across very sincere about horses, and as an added bonus is downright funny! We missed "Creating a Solid Foundation Part 2", but caught "Maximizing your Horses Potential" in one of the smaller arena's. It didn't really matter which one of his clinics we watched, his message was carried throughout everything he did. 

The Friday night rodeo is always a fair highlight, altho it was a bit drawn out this year. They turned it into more of a show, between the actual rodeo parts. Besides Guy, one of the other highlights was John Payne (the one armed bandit). He worked two buffalo into his show and had them load on top of his trailer. That was different, and pretty amazing. 

John Payne

We saw full metal jousting no less then three times throughout the weekend, fun to see and feel it in person, although once would have been enough for me (they were also part of both evening shows). Shane Adams, the Knights of Valor TV star, was the jousting MC at the rodeo (sorry about the crappy phone photo's). They had the horses from the show (all rescues) and rotated them.

Shane Adams
I'm sad to say I didn't catch any of the Mustang Challenge, altho I kept up with outcomes and visited the mustangs. Midwest is sooo huge, it's impossible to see everything. I got to talk to the Equine Soccer League folks, and watched a little bit of the soccer tournament. No clue how they ever score. My little gelding would have a tough time matching up against those big fearless horses charging at him. Doubtful I'll ever be able to get involved anyways, as they are all about host facilities. I'm not part of a barn, so that pretty much rules me out. Thought it was odd they don't offer a way for individuals to get involved, especially when I found out there are so many of us. No big deal, I don't need competition to have fun - we'll just play our own game!

We also watched one Al Dunning clinic (surprisingly he was not in either of the evening shows, there were parts that would have been right up his alley) called "Lead Change Logic" lets just say I wasn't impressed. I didn't take away anything, altho I do remember the nursery rhythm thing...

Throughout the weekend we ran into old friends we seldom see, and chatted up with others. I found spurs, and more - the expo was great! Every year we look at Muddy Creek raincoats, this was the year we bought them, and my hubby finally found a cowboy hat he liked! Funny how our shopping list grew.

Saturday's evening show was probably my least favorite part of the fair.  By that time I had already seen most of the acts, and they overloaded it with dressage (and I like dressage). Guess I was expecting more out of the Epic Night of the (heritage) Horse theme. However, they did do a heartfelt well done tribute to our military with Johnnie Cash's "Ragged Old Flag". It probably didn't help we were just plain exhausted. It amazes me how tired a person gets, just attending. Besides all the walking and/or standing, must be the long hours filled with the constant influx of information and activity. 

Super glad we stuck around to close out fair with a "Colt Starting Exposition" even tho it was running late. It was Guy and Aaron Ralston (still not sure who he is) together. It was clearly improv, and down right funny. It was our favorite part of fair. Near the end, Guy suddenly got off the filly. She had given him more then enough, and he wanted to end on a positive note. He surprised Aaron by letting him showcase the last five minutes solo, what a classy horseman. The biggest thing I took away from Guy McLean was not to dwell on what doesn't go right, or make it a big deal. Instead look for the positive things your horse accomplishes. Let them, and you, think on it overnight and then pick up working through any struggles where you left off. I kept this in mind the following week, on our first trail ride of the season. Post to come.

Midwest Horse Fair was three days of everything horse, we loved it!! 

Sunday Stills ~ Vintage

The challenge this week was to photograph something that is vintage, to us. I am not much of a collector of things that I would consider vintage, but I do have a couple that are very special to me.

When I turned fifteen, my mother gave me the ring her parents gave her when she had turned fifteen. They had it made for her from a tie pin my grandfather was awarded. While it's not big and fancy, it is very ornate with cut out sections, as jewelry was in the 40's in Spain. My grandfather died on my sixteenth birthday. I haven't been able to pass it on, yet.


I believe the brass weights below are from 30's. They bring back fond memories of helping weigh bulk items on a counter top scale in my grandparents corner store. It was one of the few things I could do to help while visiting them for the summer in Spain, after all I was only twelve. They eventually sold the store (it's a neighborhood restaurant now). I asked if I could have a couple of the smaller weights as a keepsake, they thought it was an odd request. While weighing bulk items with weights is an era gone by, the weights themselves haven't changed a bit. 



the opposite problem

I've often wondered, what can I blog about? Since I've gone MIA, I've got the opposite problem. There are so many things that have happened over the past 3 weeks, I want to blog about them all! However that requires time to sort through that which is swirling around in my head, long enough to put it into words. It's enough to make a person dizzy! Doubtful I'll ever catch up with everything quickly becoming old news. I like to reflect, before the passion diminishes. Hoping to make time soon, to at least share two of the not so recent highlights - Midwest Horse Fair and our first Trail Ride of the year. If this ever happens to you, do you just skip it, or save the more important topics for a rainy day?