twist my arm

I was happy to comply with my hubby's Father's Day wish, to load Koda & Nemo up and go for a trail ride. Who would argue with that? Not me, he didn't even have to twist my arm! Brad picked Donald's Park to ride. I've only ridden it once about 10 years ago, and he has never been. We hadn't saddled the boys all week, but they both did really well - and it warms my heart.

Donald's Park is a popular local county equestrian park, with some of the most well-marked trails I've ever seen. With the exception of a couple hills, it's pretty gentle wide winding trails that allow for driving and faster gaits if desired. We heard through our equine-vine that neighboring land was secured, expanding the park and trails. I was excited to see how the trails had changed.

It was a warm summer day, in the 80's. We waited for the dew to dry, gave the boys a chance to eat and settle, before heading out late morning. I wasn't sure what to expect, it was after all Father's Day weekend. We arrived and found several trailers, but no one around.

Our first obstacle was the imposing trail head entrance, a giant over sized wooden walk through. Must have been made for one tall horse! There is only one way in/out to the trail paths, if you make it past the entrance - you are good to go.

We occasionally traded up leading, but for the most part Koda thinks it's easier to let his brother be the lead guard. We rode in and out of the woods, onto open terrain...

At times pokey & I were way behind Nemo & Brad

...it was beautiful and so peaceful, allowing us to soak up the scenery as well as work on a few things other trails just aren't suited for. We trotted in a couple areas with long stretches of flat grassy terrain and gentle open viewing curves, between a running creek and woods. I was glad we weren't moving any faster, when a deer burst out from the tall creek grass, crossing our path, to the safety of the woods...

...we were surrounded by incredibly lush greenery, amazing considering we haven't had any rain...Koda & I turned and walked back to take a photo of a patch of wildflowers we had just passed...

Wildflowers worth stopping for
 ...I knew it would create an opportunity to ride alone for a bit. Koda didn't think anything of it, until he realized Brad & Nemo had picked up a trot and were waaaay ahead and out of sight. That got Koda's walk on, and ears perked. I was glad he trusted that we would eventually catch up. He was listening good, so we trotted a fairly long way until we caught up to them. We found them waiting at the base of a hill...

...we rode among varied wildflowers, with flutterby's carelessly floating around....

Fields of coneflowers

...and came across a side path, with a bridge, that leads to the people part of the park. Brad wanted to head down the hill, and try it - and to that I said "go ahead, we'll wait here". I am perfectly happy enjoying an easy ride. Nemo kept looking over his shoulder, wondering why we weren't coming and Koda didn't have to face the scarey bridge. And then, Koda chose to join them - so I let him. We stopped in the same spot, no surprise there...

Brad & Nemo, thinking about the bridge
...I didn't even question Koda. Instead I chose to dismount, and ask him to follow me over. He did willingly. Now the bridge wasn't so scary. Nemo & Brad followed me over too. Koda & I crossed back in hand, mounted and rode over it a couple times. They sure have come a long way, what good boys!

Taking a well-deserved break

We timed our ride just right, passing a couple riding groups on our way out. It was really getting warm in the heat of the afternoon. Of course Koda & Nemo weren't interested in drinking back at the trailer, but it was the first thing they did when we got home. Together.

Koda and Nemo

It was such a wonderful ride, in more ways then one. I feel so blessed to share this journey with the ones that I love, and so I leave you with a quote from Donald's Park:

“There Is Strength In The Hills And Peace In The Valleys .” ~ Delma Donald Woodburn


walking to the beat of drums

A year ago we took our first trip up to Spur of the Moment Ranch with Koda and Nemo, and found a place to get away that fits all of us well. The accommodations, hosts, local restaurants/staff, along with the beautiful Nicolet State Forest trails, are all something we look forward to revisiting.

The weather this June was better then last year. Upon arrival Koda and Nemo took to their familiar paddocks, to cool off and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the ranch. The large boulders on the ranch (and trails) are no longer of concern. Much to their surprise, the resident flock of New Guinea were overly friendly this year...

Koda "What are THEY doing?"

Nemo was not amused "If I ignore them, will they GO AWAY?"

The loud flock of New Guinea, are no longer shy

The ranch owner welcomed us and asked if we had ridden up to the Lookout yet. She had recently gone there for the first time herself, and said it was beautiful. She showed us the location on a grayed out photocopy of an aerial map, and pointed out one particular path to NOT take. It led to a neighboring Indian Reservation, where horses are not allowed. She emphasized, we would get lost. We had not ridden in that area of the forest yet, I was looking forward to the new adventure! I thought we would head there first thing in the morning.

Having only briefly been in the saddle once in the past couple weeks, we opted to start riding in the arena. It felt good to lope. Before tucking the boys in for the night, we took a short trail ride along the multi-use trail, just enough to set up the next days adventure.

A caveat to riding in the Nicolet, is that it doesn't matter what your choice of transportation is, to get anywhere in the forest you have to take the multi-use (old rail bed) trail to get to the off-beaten paths. The ATV folks don't like it any better then us horseback riders, and so we co-exist. It helps that the local ATV clubs include some horse encounter training. Altho all the ATV riders we've seen thus far are polite by acknowledging us and slowing way down (10 mph speed limit posted, for most of our multi-use travel) we still choose to avoid weekends/peak season, for this very reason. Weekday visits pay off, we only saw two ATV's the first day - one on the way out and one group on the way back. Thankfully Koda & Nemo handle ATV's pretty well, it's a good thing considering we always seem to run into them where the drop off's are the steepest!

After a good nights sleep, we wanted to get an early start but the peaceful tranquility of the morning was not one to be rushed. With a gentle breeze, we sipped our coffee in the shade and nibbled on a muffin while listening to the sound of rustling tree's and our boys rhythmically and softly munching hay close-by. What I wouldn't give to start my day this way, every day...

By the time we headed out, the day was already warming up. It was going to be a hot one, with only a slight chance of rain. Nemo & Brad led the way and chose to go north. Koda & I poked along. On our long riding day in the past we broke it up into two rides, morning and afternoon, heading in opposite directions with a break inbetween to rest and eat lunch at the ranch. Guess hubby was saving the Lookout for the afternoon ride (it's south of the ranch)?

The paths were just as beautiful as ever... 

Riding among tall trees

...wildflowers were in bloom, and flutterby's (aka butterflies) were everywhere... 

Little bright orange daisy type flowers, opened when sunny

Dainty white flowering bushes were everywhere

Every now and again Brad & Nemo would stir up flutterby's and suddenly be surrounded. Just as quickly as it happened, they would fly away. Sometimes hitching a short ride on Nemo, and once even on Brad's hat! Pretty funny watching him ride with moving antenna's!  I wonder what channel he was on ;)

Winding Trails

After several hours of gently winding wooded paths, we were led out onto a dirt back road called Bonita (which means pretty in Spanish). Altho bonita, I much prefer winding trails to the monotony of a straight flat one - especially when the ride was getting long, or better said my butt and ankles were starting to get sore. We only passed one car during that long stretch, that slowed way down.

I would much rather ride the wooded paths

Along that road we passed several unmarked paths, that Koda would have liked to have taken. We didn't know where they led, so we kept to the road. Just as I was thinking Bonita was never going to end, we came upon a marked path that made my hubby laugh out loud. I wondered what was so funny? It was the path to the Lookout! With each visit the trails become easier to find, or better said easier to reorient our location - good thing too, we started north and somehow ended up south!

I opted to continue riding and try to find the Lookout, suddenly being sore didn't matter anymore. The paths heading to it quickly became narrow and thick, they were sooo pretty! We hoped we were picking the correct turns, there was no way to tell, they were unmarked. Turning and winding through thick fresh bright green trees, first on sandy paths, and then...what was that sound?? Both boys nose's were glued to the ground...it sounded like the ground was hollow...like slow beating drums...coming up from the earth...steady rhythmic beats, thump..thump..thump..thump - each sound resonated, with each footstep. WOW, that was sooo cool!! Of course my mind started wandering, thinking spiritually of native ancestors......we were close to the top, and found humongous flat-ish rocks. I dismounted, handed Koda to Brad, and climbed up the rocks to the Lookout...

The Lookout

Since Brad chose not to dismount, I didn't do much exploring on the expansive rock - just confirmed, yep - we found it. There was some horse poop up there, maybe next time we'll try rock riding? The dismount served me well, it felt so good to stretch. I was no longer sore. There was only one path up/down to the Lookout, so we got to walk to the beat of drums again - it was surreal. Have you ever experienced, or heard of such a thing? The only logical reason I could come up with for the mystical resonating sound, was a deep  foundation of large rock with pockets of air.

Trails to the south of the ranch

We headed south back towards the ranch, the rain started to come down for the second time. First as a sprinkle, and then a bit heavier. So glad we bought those new Muddy Creek raincoats...they stayed dry - because we left them in the trailer! It didn't matter, the rain was refreshing and not heavy. After our five hour expedition, we were a tired happy bunch!!

I'm really pleased with how Koda listened throughout our rides, only a couple "I don't want to go there, backing responses" that were easily re-asked. It made for enjoyable memories. We look forward to exploring new Nicolet trails on our next trip in early Fall!

my boy


hello ~ goodbye

At the end of May, it was Harmony's turn to leave the farm. Our daughter wants to start riding again, and decided to try rough board at our trainers place. Altho we'll miss seeing Harmony on a daily basis, and there is a definite void in our herd, it's a good thing for both of them. We dropped Harmony off, and brought Koda and Nemo home...

Good Luck Harmony, we'll miss you! (excuse the mud)

two year old
Cierra, wondering where Harmony is going? 

Koda (L) and Nemo (R) were spun up when they were released at home

Koda and Nemo were glued to each other for a good solid week

Koda rolling, Nemo looking for the right spot

One good roll deserves another, Nemo rolling

Cierra was a little scared without Harmony, and stuck close to Dad

Resident pony gets let out of the arena 

The pony really loves Nemo 

Koda playing with the pony (note: those wearing a halter are not ours)

The original herd of three, stuck together while the others are let out of the arena

Resident Old Man is not nice

He trys to injure

and connects...thankfully Nemo adjusts and regains Alpha status
There is comfort in that which is familiar