Midwest Horse Fair 2013 ~ part two

In addition to clinicians & entertainers (review here) various competitions & events, Midwest Horse Fair draws over 500 vendors!! Just when you think you've seen them all, you pass by another and wonder how you missed it. 

We visited with our perennial favorite's, and found new ones. Including a ranch from Wyoming, attending Fair for the first time. Nice folks. We are considering them for future travel, horseback riding/snow mobile. We would love to experience the Shoshone National Forrest! Has anyone been to Crooked Creek Guest Ranch?

We purchased our annual supply of Nemo's Horseshoer's Secret at an unbelievable savings. Farm & Fleet is a local store, that offers great deals at Fair. We also picked up a gallon of ShowSheen, and a second mounting block to leave down at the farm. Shopping Fair Tip: check this vendor first before buying basic supplies, they tend to be less. A comment I've heard repeated many times, from other shoppers who wished they had.

I can't say enough good things about these two vendors: Brute Ropes and Reed Tack. We are repeat customers of both, and highly recommend them. 

This year we are trying Brute's new portable/adjustable cross ties. Our boys are trained to ground tie, but we thought these would come in handy on the road for a variety of things. We also purchased a couple more lunge ropes for the trailer. We just want to go, and not worry about what we forgot to bring. Don't be surprised if I come home with their reins next year. I really want to give these a try, but not everything comes off the wish list at once. Brute Ropes have a lot of feel, and are well made. We love their ropes!

After years of looking at Reed Tacks chinks, we finally each ordered a pair! Material costs just keep going up, we decided it's now or never. With so many choices it was pretty tough to chose, but managed with their sound advice. It's great how this duo cares about what they put out there. It's not about the sale. We look forward to their arrival in the mail, and years of use. I also had good conversation with them about my saddle woes, and am considering having Nick make me one. I have to wait on this bigger purchase, and will give it more thought.

I got a different kind of education when I spent time learning from an Oneida Indian artist, their customs and beliefs are so interesting. All patina copper sculptures, some decorated with special beads. There were a couple pieces I wouldn't mind owning, but out of my price range.

We toured the live in trailers once again this year. Not sure if it's a good or bad thing that they recognize us...not in the position to make our dream come true, yet.

We also visited with Chase Dodd, and Richard Winters at their booths. Good conversation was had with both. We waited and watch as a group of 4H kids sold Richard a raffle ticket. They were so thankful & polite, he gave them his full attention. He purchase a ticket, signed their hat & shirts - and then did something that warmed our hearts. He gave them one of his DVD's, and told them to watch it together at their next 4H meeting. Now that's what it's all about, paying it forward to the next generation. What a great guy! Follow-up Fair Tip: I discovered Richard Winters has instructional YouTube video's, and plan to spend more time learning from this great horseman!

We really enjoyed Midwest Horse Fair 2013, and all the horse experiences it offers!! Let the countdown begin for 2014!


and then there were none

Warm weather & sunshine, finally! Know what that means? You guessed it, riding outside! We trailered Koda & Nemo up to our trainers. Neither of our horses loaded like they usually do, likely sensing our mixed emotions. It would be a one way trip.

After our last ride, I couldn't help but wonder...what would today be like? We arrived to find several riders in the outdoor arena. Koda & I headed over to warm up, where my boy was wide-eyed with the many distractions he had not seen for sooo long. I'm thinking it's been close to a year since we rode outdoors at our trainers. The golf cart, pastured horses, trailers, and cranes added to the wonder. He was a bit distracted. I don't blame him. We would keep the warm up short, as long as he doesn't act like a nut. Eventually we'll progress back to skipping the in-hand warm up. When I asked Koda not to cut the corner I was pleasantly surprised, he listened. No silly theatrics.

Moving on, we walked around the arena in hand first. Something I believe helps. Past the scary stuff just outside the rail. A jump & poles, a barrel, the cart, a swing set, people watching etc. Still wide-eyed, I mounted and took my time working around the obstacles and horses, while progressing gaits. I'm happy to say, he was still listening.
The other riders untacked, and with just three of us remaining in the arena. I decided we were ready to lope. First in a circle, and then down the rail past all the distracting stuff.

I'm still working on feeling the correct lead. Koda is so smooth, even in a counter canter, that I have to look. Not sure if that will ever change, but I'll keep trying.

We were just there to ride. No agenda. I got a "that looks really good" from our trainer. I'll take it. I can't remember the last time I loped. It felt sooo good!! Who doesn't like being pleasantly surprised?! I did a little side passing, turning on the forehand & haunches - I was a little rusty. Not bad tho. Koda hasn't forgotten a thing. Over some poles, around some cones ~ so much fun! Sun shining, riding in short sleeves, in sand, on a horse that listens. I almost forgot how wonderful it feels!!

After we untacked, Koda enjoyed a well-deserved grassy snack. Instead of loading them up, they went into the barn in their newly fluffed stalls. Koda & Nemo will get to enjoy three meals a day, turnout & grass, and consistent exercise, for a little while. We left without them. It's so weird, and such an empty feeling - we have no horses at home to take care of. None. I can get used to no chores, but we miss Koda & Nemo already.

Sunday Stills ~ Wildflowers and Flowers

Enjoy a sample of the second wave of early spring flowers in my yard!

ruby giant crocus
Ruby Giant Crocus
(my favorite crocus. all the other crocus are done, found these still blooming in the shade)

mini daffodils
Miniature Daffodils
(4"-6" h)

early tulip
Early Tulip
(opens "flat" and closes up in the dark)

glory of the snow
Glory of the Snow
(pretty blue, easy keepers)

(potted, considered tropical here. goes outside to summer camp every year)

Enjoy more color at Sunday Stills.


Midwest Horse Fair 2013 ~ part one

I am still floating in the aftermath that Horse Fair brings upon us all. Thoughts whirl around in my head, as I reflect upon experiences and all things horse. After three full days, it takes me a while to come back to reality. I feel fortunate to have such a wonderful event so close to home. Every year Midwest Horse Fair proves to be a little different, and yet many of the same things I enjoy return. To name one of my perennial favorite acts, Percheron Thunder. If you could see the smile on Jason Goodman's face, and feel the cheer joy, as he drives six gorgeous Percheron's while riding roman on his two wheel horses ~ you would know what I mean.

I'm not a big fan of standing on ones horse perse, but this feels different. Most are hoping their horses don't move, he expects it - and with speed. Jason is a great ambassador for the Percheron breed, and with his wife spends a lot of time talking horse with fans and giving back.

I originally planned to attend all the Western Dressage clinics held by Jeff Wilson but quickly learned, the presenter wasn't what I was looking for. Instead we gravitated towards attending Richard Winters clinics again. Some of his great messages were carried over from previous years. His practical advice is timeless. It's all about horsemanship anyways, the foundation of every discipline. Who can't use more of that? I sure can! Not only is Richard a great presenter of useful information, he is tactfully funny! This year he shared his clinics with his daughter Sarah, clearly a good horsewomen in her own right. Time will tell if she listens to his wise presentation messages, only a dad can deliver.

The Friday night PRCA Rodeo didn't disappoint a sold out crowd of 10,000. It had all the elements, including patriotism, skill, beautiful animals, danger, education, humor, camaraderie and more! The beasties got the best of many a cowboy, while others were victorious. Sitting only four rows away, I couldn't help but wish I had hauled my good camera in to capture the essence of the rodeo. I purposefully do not even bring my point & shoot to the Fair, so I can live in the moments with my husband. I don't want to watch fair through a lens, I want to experience it. But maybe next year, just for the rodeo.

We skipped the Saturday Night show for the first time. From what I've heard, we didn't miss much. They just aren't as good as they used to be. Altho I would have enjoyed watching Richard & Sarah perform together. The 2014 theme is "Horse Tales", as in fairy tales, maybe there is hope?

We stumbled across a Chase Dodd clinic when he stepped up to cover for some presenters, and were pleasantly surprised! Chase had to ad lib, and ended up combining portions of his Body Control & Advanced Body Control clinic into one. He did a great job breaking movements down, showing both sides of the arena, and explaining what he was doing & why. We found him refreshing, understandable, and liked how he interacted and answered questions from the crowd. Watch for this upcoming horseman, he knows his stuff. I finally figured out why I recognized him, we watched him win the Mustang Challenge a few years back.

After last years disappointing lead change clinic, we gave Al Dunning another try in Reining Rider Skills.  Same thing, different clinic. I wasn't there to watch him ride, which he clearly does very well, I was there to learn. With all due respect, we walked away with nothing. If they bring him back again we won't waste our time. I can watch him ride on TV any day, it doesn't feel any different in person.

They also brought a roping duo from out West. I couldn't keep my hubby awake, and he is more interested in roping then I am! We understand they had a rough time just getting to fair due to a big snowstorm, and were riding strangers horses. Roping isn't the most exciting thing to watch in the world, but it can be. We waited as looong as we could stand listening to them talk about themselves. It went on forever. Watching a rope be thrown over and over and over again, only teaches me that you can throw a rope. I get it, and already knew that. Break it up. Make it interesting. Break it down. Sigh.

Speaking of breaking down, the Aussie Dan James did a nice job of it at one of his liberty work clinics. He explained reasoning, using selected participants and their horses, and added a twist of humor to bring it home. Wish we could have seen more of Dan's liberty progressive clinics, but even with three whole days at fair, we miss a lot.

For those of you that attended, what were your favorite shows & presenters?

If you've read this far, then you already know mine ~ BIG thumbs up for Percheron Thunder! Richard Winters! Chase Dodd! Dan James! and always the Rodeo!! Thanks for the memories & sharing your valued knowledge!! More Midwest Horse Fair experiences, what we hauled home, and what we didn't, to come in review ~ part two.


take your horse to work day

Our daughter works at our vet clinic, and took Koda & Nemo to work with her. They had their teeth floated, coggins, spring shots etc. and Mr Nemo had his annual bladder ultra sound. They found he needed to be flushed, and once again extracted sediment, but did not have to break up any crystals (stones) this time. Good news. 

We haven't noticed Nemo dripping (it's tough to catch with rough board horses tho) but the ultrasound has just become part of his annual care anyways. You can read more on Nemo's unusual condition here.

I think the boys were ready to come home after a long day at the vets. It sounded like a regular barnyard when we switched vehicles and picked them up!


monday funny

My husband made a special trip downstairs to my office to tell me Koda & I made it into Western Horseman!! Yeah, right. Besides the fact that this would never be true, I knew he was up to no good by the mile wide smirk he had on his face. 

This is what he showed me:

and said "that's pretty much what you and Koda looked like yesterday" Ha ha, very funny. He thought it was just hysterical. I couldn't help but laugh with him, the ridiculousness of it all is so true.


Sunday Stills ~ Hand Tools

Hammers are one of the most common and oldest hand tools. Like everything, they have evolved over the years. When I asked my husband for his oldest hand tool, he gave me this hammer. I thought, a hammer? How common & boring. It's actually pretty cool tho, and very aged. As soon as I started shooting it, the memories came back. It's the one hammer I can always find, and never want to use. He has had it forever, and doesn't remember how old it is. I know it's at least 25 years old, my husband had it when I met him. It's very heavy, and meant for driving nails while framing houses. It doesn't see much use these days, but if I ever need a hammer - I know I can at least find one!!

hammer head
California Framing Hammer Head

hammer handle
California Framing Hammer Handle

See more Sunday Stills Hand Tools


naughty pants

I got to ride today, sort of. You didn't know we were going riding? Me either. Guess I forgot to check on the weekend plans, silly me. I certainly wasn't going to turn down an opportunity to ride, so we hauled our muddy horses up to our trainers. It's so nice that she lets us trailer in once in a while. We really appreciate her! She likes to see how the horses are doing. It gives her an opportunity to tweak something before it gets really out of whack. Today was one of those days, Koda was really out of whack ~ sigh.

Things were not as hectic at the barn as last time, altho still plenty busy. Until Trainer Patty mentioned it, and I tried saddling, I didn't notice Koda put on more weight. I had to change the way I saddle him again, never a good sign. Time to cut back on his feed. 

We started with a warm up lunge, without a lunge whip - which has never works well for me/us. Asking forward with the end of a rope, is a challenge. We managed okay, switched directions, add a trot and that didn't work so well. Trainer Patty offered to help, but I wanted to do it all on my own this time. I mean really, how long have I been riding? Long time. I decided to skip the lope on a rope, end on a good trotting note, and just get on and ride. We only lunge a couple circles each way anyways.

First try mounting, another rider was having trouble figuring out their lope and Koda scooted away as they approached too close. No big deal. We waited, and I hopped on between their lope offs. Things were going well, until that same horse (who was doing nothing wrong) came near us. Wow. Koda got antsy, wouldn't stop, started shying sideways/backwards, it got bigger - and I chose to hop off. That made his reaction grow, I was barely able to hang onto the reins. What the heck!?! I started petting Koda to calm him down. He got in big trouble from the trainer. Don't for a second think he was mistreated, he wasn't. Correcting a safety issue appropriately is different. I was told not to reward him for being naughty. She was right. I thought Koda was scared, and it was a natural reaction. As the ride continued, I clearly saw he was choosing bad behavior. 

I always blame me. The way everyone else saw it, he was being naughty. I held sweet Cierra, while our trainer rode Koda - and he acted the same way for her. What's the difference? She has the confidence to make him listen when he gets big, I don't. After she was done riding him around, and near other horses, I got back on. We rode around for a while, but he started up again. I rode a bit longer, and got off. I'm just not interested in a battle, and could tell this wasn't going to end anytime soon. Our trainer didn't think he should be put away, and if I wasn't going to ride Koda she asked if she could. 

Let the horse trading begin. If our trainer rides naughty pants, I could ride Cierra, or I could ride Nemo, and Brad could get on Cierra. Um? I've never ridden either of Brad's horse's. Being the great guy that he is, he wanted me to pick. I chose Cierra. He said he was okay with me riding her first. Really? What an honor. I love my husband! She is an amazing, quiet thinker. I only walked her, since Patty was busy with my horse - who didn't let up the entire ride. Beside, I do want my hubby to have some firsts with her. Cierra is one special girl! He sure knows how to pick them. 

Patty & naughty pants in the background.
(looks like he was doing his boredom chomping on his bit thing, another lovely trait)

Koda was shying away from every horse but Nemo, even Cierra. At one point Patty asked us to stay put, we had a trio of horses (Fred & his fjord Lena were riding with us) and she rode Koda in and around and weaving through us. Koda did not want any part of this, but he did it anyways. Wow, what a piece of work. Patty still insists he is the quietest of our three horses, but I just don't see it. None of the three horse cones were very happy with Koda's silly horse behavior. Lot's of ear action while he was weaving in-between Nemo, Cierra, and Lena.

Some of you may remember Koda's backing "I don't want to do that" attitude. Pretty much the same thing. Needless to say, we determined Koda needs a tuneup. I am so disappointed, and thankful, at the same time.

This is what I learned: I thought I was wrong jumping off, and not riding it out. Patty assured me I did the right thing, it was bigger then I was. This wasn't just me/my fault, Koda did the same thing to our trainer - the entire ride. I need to keep my rewards in check. My horse needs a firm rider when he chooses to be difficult, guess I better get stronger inside & out.

Sometimes I think Koda & I are mismatched, but we do well together most of the time. I just wish he made better choices. Today he made a whole bunch of work for himself, over nothing, but I still love him.

Koda & his friend Belle


unless your a duck

With spring thaw, we all expect mud. It's more like mud soup around here these days. Who pissed off Mother Nature? She's been dumping rain, torrential rain, and then more rain on us - for endless days. It's a mudfest. I hate to complain about moisture, when last year we had a drought. Guess this year makes up for it. I actually like rain, but not long stretches. Sprinkle in some cold wind, we get coated with ice and everything is more like a fudgsicle.

The pasture lake is back, poor trees are taking another beating. Doesn't look like they will ever recover from the power line destruction. My hubby is down there daily, trying to keep it draining. Endless job, until it drys up, and it will. I frequently get asked how our horses handle the mud sucking pasture lake. My answer is always the same "horses are smart, they just don't go down there until the footing gets better".

Animals don't enjoy this weather any more then we do, unless you're a duck. They do much the same. Take cover. Stay out of the wind. Get a little agitated. Snuggle. Look forward to warming meals, and turn the not so pretty color of mud...

there is a Nemo hiding under all that mud

...when the weather breaks, the sun will feel all the better & so will another reeeally good scratch...

Koda, in scratch heaven