adventure found, check

We went looking for an adventure yesterday, and found it! We loaded Koda & Nemo up and headed out to explore Yellowstone Wildlife Area for the first time. It was an adventure just finding the place. Good thing we had the fire number, they jumped so we knew to turn around, and it was then we saw the sole turn sign.

A family was leaving as we pulled in, and we never did see the only other trailer riders in the area. I was expecting it to be busier on a holiday weekend. Just us in the middle of no where, we loved it! However, we were lost more then we were found and that was with a map. The problem was the trail markers, or better said lack of. They had a couple old wooden signs at the very beginning telling you which of the four loops you could head towards, and then the occasional orange snowmobile diamond signs. You would get to a Y intersection, and guess - should we follow this orange sign, or that one? I know, let's try the orange sign!

It was a warm sunny day. The rolling hills and uneven terrain had the boys working up a sweat. We were all thankful for the steady breeze. Not much shade to be found, at least not on the paths we traveled, altho we were riding in the woods. Sunny trails are great for cool weather rides. The area was sooo beautiful, and serene...

riding grassy trails

...we ended up on a trail that suddenly had a no horse sign posted in the middle of the trail, huh? Still not sure if it was meant for the trail, or maybe they meant the meadow, but we backtracked regardless and went the other way. We want to be good land stewards, and follow trail rules. The new direction we headed, following the other orange diamond signs, dumped us out on this beautiful rolling field...

looking for paths
...we weren't sure if the field was part of the trail, or not. There was a strip along the edge that looked like it was mowed differently, we saw some tracks...

are we heading the right way?

In the end, we believe the field edge was one of several intersecting routes on our map. There was a rifle range off in the distance, that we used to reorient ourselves. We got back onto the first "no horse trail" in a different section. It was clearly a horse trail, by evidence of droppings and where it took us....

everything was such a pretty view
...eventually we rode down a hill to explore a bridge indicated on our map. We found a raised wooden bridge, with a big step up/down. The boys did good! As soon as we crossed, we couldn't believe what we saw on the path above us...a large black team of fully dressed drafts (looked like percherons) pulling a big covered wagon! I thought Koda's ears were going to touch the sky. He's never seen a team of horses, and the wagon had a huge white cover. I was stunned, it was so pretty to see! You could hear the clippity-clop and jingling, as they rode along the tree lined path. Wish I had taken a picture, but I was busy trying to figure out if they were coming down the path by us, and if so, where it was safest for us to be. Definitely not on the bridge. There was a cute little boy jumping off and on, running and pushing the wagon. I think they were a little surprised too, as I overheard the driver praising his team as they passed us. What a sight!! They continued on heading towards a green loop that was indicated at the trailhead as closed for the remainder of the season. Hope they didn't run into a jam, then again maybe that's why they closed the loop. We assume they are a local hitch, and rode into Yellowstone off the rural road.

We decided to take that same path, but towards the trail head. We hit another intersection. The turn we took was starting to resemble an unpaved road, so we found an intersecting path and rode that instead...

Such a pretty area to ride!
Nemo turned into a (sweaty) grey horse.

With Fall colors coming, and hardly any bugs, we'll go back before the trails close in October. There are a lot more areas to explore at Yellowstone. I want to find the rock tunnel I've seen pictures of, and ride through it. We had a great adventurous day riding parts of three different loops, for around 3.5 hours. I think we've kinda got the trail system figured out, all we have to do is follow the orange signs!!


wrapping up summer

Take a couple days of vacation + Labor Day weekend = five much needed days off from work! We planned on trying some new trails further away from home before the holiday weekend started, but that plan changed with the weather. Yesterday we hit high 90's, only a few degree's off a record high. We decided riding a familiar place was a better idea, and knew most of the trails at White Mound are shaded. We had a steady breeze on the open trails, and the best part - no bugs! It's been a good summer for trail riding in WI. White Mound was a great choice, it was only our third time and we loved it all over again. It's definitely the quietest place we've ever trailered to, we've never run into anyone on the trail. I still can't believe we were the only ones in the entire park yesterday, we had to self register. The only person we saw all afternoon was a guy mowing the grass, after we were on the road back home.

We hadn't ridden the boys in a couple weeks, and it showed. Nothing terrible, just a sticky start. Koda was doing his backing thing, guess bad habit's die hard...I was getting frustrated. Seems I've lost my feel for catching it, but am working on getting it back. Nemo wasn't his usual golden self either, he wasn't as willing to be the trusting fearless leader he normally is.  We took it all in stride. With the scary outhouses, and the road bridge behind us, we headed into & out of the woods and settled into a nice long ride... 

out of the woods onto un-manicured trails, which we like

...instead of staring at a computer monitor all day at work, this was my view when we weren't in the woods maneuvering hills...

the view between my horse's ears

...my favorite part of the ride was crossing the creeks. The boys still need encouragement to get in, but it's getting easier. They sure had fun playing in the first creek!

Nemo playing in the water

Koda stood in the water forever, and played. I think he liked the feel of the cool stream on such a hot day. He tried drinking, or more likely just wet his lips.

 ...I suggested we try riding the creek, but Nemo & Brad decided that wasn't such a good idea shortly after starting out ...

testing out the water further

...we did some trotting in the open prairie, and soaked up the view...

White Mound prairie

...and tackled the many challenging hills. We were all tired after 3.5 hours, and happy to be back at the trailer. We gave the boys a grassy treat, and sponged them down before heading back home.

Today we thought it would be best to change it up, and hang around the farm & ride. It should have felt cooler, since we only got into the 80's, but I swear it was hotter.

Brad went to drag the arena, and I brought the trailer down. My first time driving it alone, hehee. Don't be so impressed tho, I had no horses in it and literally drove the trailer around a country corner. The only hard part was figuring out how to back it up, and park where we unload. Nemo never left the corner of the pasture after the trailer arrive, and all of a sudden he decided to try playing "dead"...near the road. A white horse just laying there not moving, surrounded by nothing...he turned every head on the highway...

Shhhh, Nemo is sleeping - he can't go riding

What a silly boy, suddenly deciding to stop, drop, and sleep with all the commotion going on. We left him for last, and took turns using the freshly dragged arena. Cierra got worked first. Koda & I were up next and did some loping, some side-passes, and trotted over a few poles before heading out to the pasture to walk around. I was really pleased that Koda did everything I asked. Brad & Nemo did some loping too. It's been a long time since we rode in an arena, and it felt good! 

I suggested we end with a short trail ride on the farm. We could do a quick loop, take the one existing snowmobile path that cuts through the strip of woods, and get back to the pasture on the field road. With the fields planted, riding is very limited on the farm. Much to our surprise, we discovered an assortment of paths had been created weaving through the length of the strip of woods. Exactly what we had talked about doing someday. My brother-in-law had cleared some paths for his girls to ride. Who knew? The two girls had even posted some cute "stop" signs on the tree's. No breath taking views, but the trees formed a cool canopy...

Brad & Nemo riding on the new path

...what a magical place for a couple young girls and their mounts to ride, and for adults - well, you can't beat riding right from the pasture and into the woods...

Curious Koda

...we had fun exploring the new paths! For some reason, Koda wanted to lead the majority of the time. He was really curious where the paths would lead. We actually ended up separated from Brad & Nemo a couple times, and rode alone - Koda didn't seem to care.

I'm looking forward to enjoying our remaining vacation days. It's suppose to cool off even more, we may even head out on the road to try that new location?! Regardless, I can't think of a better way of wrapping up summer then hanging out with my hubby & our horses!