horses and veterans ~ day of experience

While I can't seem to find good horse news, other's just seem to know where to look. Note to self: visit my friend Google more often. I was reading North Horse when I stumbled across a link with follow-up information to my post about horses and veterans. 

The volunteer representatives from Wisconsin AT EASE (A Therapeutic Equine Assisted Self-Confidence Experience) had the honor to represent our state and military veterans in the Presidential inaugural parade, and almost didn't make it! 

I found their experience to be heartwarming for many reasons, including humanity and the human-horse connection. Where a stranger offered to board their horses (who does that?) when they had vehicle trouble in West Virginia, and backup from WI jumped on the bandwagon traveling many miles, to help get this crew get to the parade in Washington D.C. 

In the end, they made it! I can't even imagine what it would be like to ride in a parade of this magnitude, can you?? What an incredible once in a life time opportunity they had...

"...all the famous monuments that I had only seen in picture books; we got to see them by horseback as the sun was setting..."

"...there were a couple of times where he was so frightened, and you could feel his heart between your legs..."

"...he put his hand on his heart and pointed to Terry and mouthed 'thank you'... "

It doesn't matter which side of the political fence you are on, read the many amazing experiences of the day here it's worth the time.


Sunday Stills ~ Letter F

I started orchestra in elementary school. Years passed, and everyone else got there own instrument. I was painfully aware we couldn't afford one, and continued to rent. I was twelve when my dear uncle from Spain surprised me with a very special gift, my own instrument...

my fiddle

As years and skills progressed, we were forced to play only classical music. I wanted to play upbeat music, on a fiddle. Every time I asked for help, I was told no. Private lessons were not an option. They said I had to learn Bach, Beethoven etc first, before I could fiddle, consequently I eventually quit playing. I still don't care much for classical music, altho I respect it. I'm a firm believer children will remain interested in arts much longer, if you don't squash their dreams...

fiddlin' dreams

My beloved spanish instrument saw a renewed life, when my daughter learned to play. It has been unused for many years now. Maybe someday I will re-learn to play it, as the fiddle I had hoped it would be...

See other Letter F photos at Sunday Stills


one degree

It is 1F in WI this morning, it feels as cold as I feel distant to my horse. It's been so long since I've ridden or spent time with him, all I am left with is wonder. How will I  __________ fill in the blank. Whatever connection Koda & I had built up, fades away one degree at a time...

...feeding grain on weekends while hubby forks over some hay, pales in comparison. Koda isn't interested in interacting, he wants his food. Normal and expected. He tolerates my hugs, but then we leave and let them enjoy their meal. He must be bored in that frozen pasture 24/7. I would be. But he's a horse, and probably not. Besides, his play toy cow-pony gets turned out everyday. I remind myself Koda & Nemo take pleasure in the residents daily turn-out, a herd is company.

I really don't mind winter, and like playing in the snow (when we have some) but I just can't seem to make myself ride alone down at the farm. Maybe if I was truly alone, and not on a stage, it would be a little easier. Between the footing and the situation, it doesn't appeal to me. Not to mention the little confidence I had to ride alone, is gone. No desire to walk in hand through the muck/uneven frozen ground either. I've tried to just enjoy being with the horses & groom when the residents aren't pastured, but that's rare and doesn't work so well in outdoor conditions. Such is life in the winter, for a farm pastured horse & his owner.

Welcome to my pity party, can I offer you some cheese with my whine?

In my mother's famous words, there are worse things. Spring will come, eventually the ground will dry up, trails will open and yes, even I will ride again. Until then maybe we will get some warmer winter weather, I'll be brave and try riding in it regardless...instead of making a great mistake.

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one." 

 ~ Elbert Hubbard

p.s.  If you don't know who Elbert Hubbard is, read his wiki - he was one interesting and wise guy.


horses and veterans

After the non-stop mysterious deaths, burglaries and child beating stories comes some refreshing news worth reading. The kind that reminds you, there is still some good in the world. A Wisconsin group that pairs horses with veterans for therapy, will march in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C. on January 23rd! If you tune in, watch for our states only entry of three horse & riders carrying an American flag, a Wisconsin flag, and this flag:

Lighthorse Cavalry Association of Wisconsin Flag
photo credit: Dan Killarn

The bigger news is the feeling of connection and freedom this group offers. One veteran with no horse background called AT EASE (A Therapeutic Equine-Assisted Self-confidence Experience) "a miracle for him" he said "I just go up there and pet them, and groom them, and just be near them. It mellows you, it keeps you calm." AT EASE has personable equine of all shapes, sized and abilities, and offer a five acre "play land" confidence course, equine soccer, and cart driving. How wonderful to make this available to those who served our country! Read the whole story here for my kind of news.


cierra update

Hard to believe it's been over a month since we've seen Cierra. It is only remotely okay, because we know our trainer well and checked in via phone. With the holidays, vacation, and work conflicts behind us - a day finally came that we could go see her. We arrived to find Cierra enjoying turn out time. I had to look twice, yep that's her. She is still very affectionate and had a lot to say, in her own quiet way...

telling secrets
telling secrets

We were not expecting our trainer to be home, but her plans changed. Patty was eager to show us Cierra's progress, who would say no to that? The indoor arena was unusually busy, with some encouragement Cierra took it all in stride. I apologize in advance for the crappy video's, in particular the classic floor shot ending...

The only sticky spot in her training so far was in the very beginning. Cierra got off to a slow start, needing more time then usual to realize that it's not so bad doing what people ask. It took a couple weeks, but she was given the needed time to figure that out on her own, so she could be happy learning. Some things simply shouldn't be rushed...

...as you can see Cierra is coming along nicely! I was surprised Brad turned down a first ride on her, but then again much of this visit was unexpected. He will enjoy that special moment another day. Cierra rode with a quiet mouth and head, ears perked with interested eyes, soaking it all in - and sweet as ever...

one special girl


Sunday Stills ~ Old Barns

There is no shortage of old barns in rural Wisconsin. I thought it would be more fun looking for an interesting old barn instead of shooting the one I see everyday on the family farm.

We took the back roads on the way home from our trainers yesterday, and stumbled upon these...

old barn
old barn

old barn 2
another old barn

old barns
two old barns together
a third structure in between these two barns,

has collapsed into a heap of old wood and is unrecognizable

...old barns, well actually anything old, makes me wonder about their past...what were they like in their prime...how did they come upon such disarray...ohhh the stories they would tell, if only they could...

looking into the past

...this was my favorite farm building out of the four we found grouped together, altho not technically a barn. Could it have been the homestead, or a smokehouse, or some other type of farm building that was actively used back in it's day? The photo above looks through what appears to have been the door, into the past...

old building
old farm building

...I could shoot photos of old barns & buildings all day long...see other old barns at Sunday Stills.


horse legends

While drinking my wake me up before I go-go morning cup of coffee, I came across a horse term on All Horse Stuff blog that I had never heard before "bloody shoulders". Of course I had to look it up, I love learning! It turns out the term "bloody shoulders" is based on a legend, and an interesting one: 

"Legend has it that the dead Sheik arranged with the gods that his mare’s dedication would be commended so that forever after, any descendant of hers who was possessed of outstanding courage or ability would bear the blood stains as a mark of honour"

Photo credit: Pat Slater

Read the full legend here:


I can't help but wonder what other horse legends are out there, among others there must be some legends about Native American horses. Do you have an interesting horse legend to share??


equine youth scholarships

So which one of you bloggers has gotten an equine scholarship? 

Not me, I only wish. I know someone who has, and the good they can do. There is an Appaloosa Youth Scholarship up for grabs - the deadline is March 20th. If you know of a deserving youth, don't wait:



Sunday Stills ~ One Tree

I bundled up and headed to the lake this morning, just me and the other crazy people who were either running, biking, walking, ice fishing or, you know, searching for a solitary tree! In addition to enjoying the serene winter lake views, we had another thing in common ~ the brisk wind whipping across the lake was making us all cold!!

guardless tree
unguarded tree

tree needs company
tree is company, no waiting

one, two, tree
one, two, tree

a tree with a view
an (n)ice spot to fish


Thanks for joining us at the lake, and you didn't even have to get cold! See other solitary trees, at Sunday Stills.


making animals into jewelry

At the risk of getting lambasted, I can't help but ask - how do you feel about having your animals ashes made into jewelry??

My co-worker is part of a glass blowing business, and this conversation has come up several times in the past. They keep getting asked to make glass animal ash pendants (and even a human one). They've made a few ash sprinkled pendants, as favors.

On my way home from work, I heard a DJ sponsored commercial (where they talk & talk & talk - and then plug the vendor) about "making your animals into diamonds"  "it only takes 5 cups of ashes" and "costs from $300 up to thousands, depending on the size and color of the ash formed stone"...what's next, furniture? Maybe animal ash furniture already exists. Have you heard of other animal ash created stuff?? If you are looking for a business idea, and working with ash remains doesn't bother you, here's your sign.

I completely understand heartfelt keepsakes, like horse hair jewelry - but wearing ashes? That's kinda like wearing blood in a vial necklace. From someone who just lost a beloved family animal, I think making ashes into jewelery is just plain weird.

Keep in mind a trusted source in a local animal cremation business confirmed ashes are not exclusive, animals are incinerated in groups...so, your getting a mixed scoop of the day. Sad, but true.

Apparently making your animals into jewelry is the new thing...and to that I say, to each there own. If it makes you feel better, go for it.


finding joy in the silver lining

These days still find us working around the resident horses, well - not really the horses, more like the owners. Koda & Nemo are the only ones in the pasture waiting for breakfast in the mornings, however evening feeding continues to present a challenge. Add four hungry resident horses/pony waiting for their humans to put them away and feed, and you get twenty-four moving feet all in the same area. We've tried many different things including feeding in the arena, much like anything, all present there own set of challenges. The horses fully know what is going on, and we've learned to peacefully work things out.

When Mother Nature added her own element (known as winter) we started feeding evening hay on one side on the floor of the shed. Much to my surprise we found joy, especially Koda. He normally mows down his food but instead buries his nose in the hay as deep as he can, and slowwwly munches, strand-by-strand, taking his sweet time...


...he's got nothing to worry about, while his humans stand guard doing some much needed work with three of the four residents. Nemo enjoys the shed feedings as well, altho he's always on guard. Not from the other horses (he know's we've got that covered) but potentially threatening noises, as he takes it upon himself to protect us all. I love that about him. It's harder for Nemo to see with three enclosed walls, and one composed of humans and horses, blocking his view. With a little convincing, Nemo settles and nuzzles into the hay as well. We have found the silver lining, as we listen to our horses peacefully eat...