Merry Christmas from me to you

To each and every one of you,
sharing your kindness,
and your knowledge of horses:

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas,
and a Healthy Happy New Year!!

2013 Handmade Christmas Card
(cover & inside saying)


all over, randomly

WI is suppose to get some snow this weekend, at least I hope so! We headed north to ride earlier then usual, just incase the dumper of snow hit before expected. We were surprised to find the barn completely quiet, just the way - I - love - it!! My hubby raked the arena, again......and so, we got to ride on freshly raked sand!

He suggested two things for this ride, that turned out fantastic! One, try loping Koda off like I used to (before the 360 circle-off's) just because, and two, try putting cones in random order, instead of in a pattern - say what? 

I tried, but every single cone I randomly placed ended up in a pattern regardless of where I placed them - I am hopeless! So, I moved those darn cones and re-re-placed them until they were patternless, or at least as well as possible!! I also set up some trot poles...

Surprise surprise, with the freshly raked sand Koda loped off a corner on the first try - and yes, on the correct lead! Hmmmm? Truth be told, Koda offered the wrong left lead on a similar lope-off later in our ride (never ever has he given the wrong lead on his much preferred right side) but, we re-tried and got it - sans circle. I am getting sooo much closer to feeling his lead 100% either way on his tricky left side, and that my friends is a huge thing (in my world).

The specialness about freshly raked sand is the way you can SEE your horses footprints. I was giddy to see when Koda did TRUE side-passes, the writing was in the sand!!

As for those random cones, simply genius! Hubby said he read a recent article, counter to what you hear on the TV/Internet where you don't want to believe everything you hear/read, but instead try what makes sense - these suggestions made sense. 

With cones placed all over, multi-patterns were left up to horse and rider to create on the fly, and yes it was so much more interesting then cones in a row! Of course, we had a ton of fun playing follow the leader around and occasionally through (oops!) the random cones, towards the end of our ride - did you have any doubt?!!

As for our horses, they also had snow much fun inside & outside!!

Koda, Nemo, Cierra (L-R)


one trick pony

My horse does a new trick.

I couldn't have taught him to do it if I tried.

Not sure if it was our unintentional one week break, or the deep sand, or combination thereof, but Koda decided it was easier to switch from left to right leads at close to a stand still, in mid air - then it would be to take the asked for left lead.

It goes something like this...

Pro-action: 360 circle at a trot, to assist in getting the correct left lead at a lope

Step one: cue for some power/lift from behind

Step two: start circle by turning away from the wall

Step three: keep horse moving forward through circle

Not a step: despite my best efforts, Koda slows waaaay down in anticipation 

Step four: while coming towards the wall (at whatever degree that is) cue for a lope, so the next natural step is the correct lead leg

Not a step: he doesn't take the cue. we are now at our beginning point, next to the wall, at all but a stand still, for a split second - in movement, in time, in air - as Koda sloooowly reaches forward with his left front inside leg - and does some funky bait-n-switch, that feels like it happens with a whoohoo hop, resulting in his preferred right (in this case, outside) lead.

Really horse? That is a lot more work then taking the dang correct lead! First try had me puzzled "did Koda just do what I think he did?" We loped a bit while I processed. He has the smoothest counter canter to the left...stopped, and tried it again.

Second try, I have a witness. Brad yells out "he just switched leads in mid-air". Yes, yes he did - I can clearly feel him doing it. 

Koda takes flying lead changes to a new level.

Third airborne acrobat move earned Koda a swat on the butt. He knows damn well what I am asking for! We have been practicing this for weeks, and had many, many successful lope-offs as well as some unsuccessful ones that led to subsequent tries. 

Were these executed perfectly, no. Do I need to keep Koda moving through the entire circle, yes! I am trying, it would be nice if he met me half way. I've gained approval from our trainer on several circle lope offs in the recent past, while visiting during our rides. It helps my confidence to have had a trained eye watch.

In my past, I've gotten plenty of smiles from trainers on my corrections. I dislike applying pressure (aka getting after my horse). So much, that some result in "is that all you got" looks from my horse "I thought that was a fly". However when I know it isn't me, or it's clearly naughty/unsafe, and fear has not welled up, I am capable of applying appropriate pressure. 

We had this down, and had worked back up to corner & even some straight wall lope offs - again. What a difference a week makes. I know Koda knows exactly what I am asking for, and so we progress onto...

Step five: horse remains moving forward, takes the correct lead and lopes off, continues collected and loping until I ask him to stop. That was the nicest lope I've gotten in a long time, what a sweet feeling! 

I could feel my horse thinking, as we rounded the arena with ease. He was probably cursing my name. Koda earned a big long break, and lotsa "atta-boy" affection afterwards. So much easier, and less work, then being a one trick pony! Later in our ride, we did the circle-off correctly again - with the first ask.

Sweet Koda


how loooow can you go



Our boys crawling to the gate on a recent cold sunny December day.


honey I shrunk the horse

Koda has been miniaturized, on a greatly reduced scale. He was only a few feet away from me, when he was made into an extremely small size. They say this happens in order to keep volume or weight to a minimum.

So, that's what I've gotta do to lose weight? Miniaturized myself? Can you even imagine? Me either.

Miniaturization happens when you are made to be much smaller then normal. Reduced to tininess. On a very small scale, a minute version of oneself, or in this case a mini version of ones horse...

Little Koda

I am glad the condition didn't last long. I've become rather fond of Koda, just the way he is...


the next best thing

They replaced the indoor arena flooring at our barn last summer, and put new sand in. Unfortunately the service door recently broke, and dragging the arena has been problematic. With all the traffic it gets, it doesn't take long for holes and sand dunes to appear in the deep arena sand. 

Before we rode my hubby rigged a ratchet type pulley on the door, so he could test out a new arena drag they are considering buying. It happens to be the exact same one we look at every year at Horse Fair. We dream of the day we have a reason to buy one of our own! 

I helped briefly hold the chain, and then went to check out Koda & Nemo's new (to them) turnout pasture. It is further away from the barn, but has access to automatic water. I think they'll like spending their days out there?

Why is she not bringing us in?

Between the work, play happens with this little guy running around...

5 months of happiness

I helped our trainer shovel the sand away that builds up on the corner walls. It's much harder then it sounds. Brad got things adjusted on the drag, so it could go round and round with ease. We had to stay on our toes to get out of his way!  She mentioned it looked like he was having fun running the drag, trust me - he was. My hubby was so happy, it's the next best thing to owning your own...

What a huge difference! Nemo & Koda noticed it right away. I set up some poles & cones, and we ended the afternoon with a nice ride on freshly raked sand!!


will it fall out?

Last summer I made a living wreath out of 80 succulent cuttings, it hung on the side of our shed. I enjoyed watching it grow and begin to fill out. In November, I took it down for the winter. I am attempting to overwinter it outside until spring, hoping at least some plants will make it through the winter...

...for the past month, I've been looking at that bare spot and thinking I should really make a winter wreath. Something inexpensive, that can take our harsh WI weather. Evergreens wreaths are the obvious choice, but I'm no Martha Stewart. I decided on a grapevine wreath. I figured they come from nature, and don't cost a lot. I let the idea ferment in my head for a while...

...with coupon's in hand, I found a pre-made grapevine wreath and picked up a few cheap-o decorations. I intended to make this winter wreath using all natural decor, but after walking my frozen gardens I realized I don't grow much that could be used. I looked into buying natural dried decor, holy cow do they charge a lot per stem! I made my wreath for less then five dollars, but its worth a lot more then that to me...

...I coated one of Harmony's old shoes with a light sparkle clear lacquer that I had, repurposed some old "berries" I saved years ago, secured them together, and whalaa - my homemade winter wreath:

I've become rather fond of it, and hung it on my front door instead of the shed outside. So much for filling that bare spot on the shed wall!! 

I like things slightly off center, and tipped the horseshoe. I wasn't even thinking about all the superstition that surrounds them...until my hubby teased that now all our good luck was going to spill out! I believe a horseshoe is tipped so it can catch good luck. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, unless bad things start happening...


closing out november

On the last day of November we arrived at the barn to find the boys outside enjoying some lunch and peacefully soaking up the warm Fall sun...

...with no more then a slow head raise, Koda & Nemo look up. We think they are saying "oh sh&! they are here" as they sink their muzzles back down into the hay to continue softly chewing. One of the best, most soooothing, sounds in the world!!

I soak up some pasture time with them, for just a short while. It's one of the things I miss most about not having the boys at home. Just plain 'ol hanging around with them...


Nemo was barely concerned with the arena door on this ride, and continues to follow Brad around like a puppy dog. He is always in his back pocket.


Koda is happiest with his nose nuzzled deep into a pile of hay. He doesn't fidget when I halter him, and pokes along behind me to the indoor arena. We had another great ride, no odd breathing. Koda continues behaving so well. I am enjoying every single minute with him!!

When we were done riding, I felt kinda bad. Koda & Nemo didn't get to go back outside to their sunny pasture. We decided it was best as it was close to supper time, and with the warmer day their winter coats brought on a bit of sweat. The sun wouldn't be up much longer anyways, and they would be content with the fresh piles of hay in their stalls. They seem so much happier living the routine at Iron Horse. 

November is a transition month for me. The last of the lingering winter chores get completed and family gatherings happen. We get a taste of the cold weather to come. Numbers chalk up that tell me I am older. It's the month we are reminded to be grateful. After 5 years I still wonder how we got so damn lucky to have these amazing horses enriching our lives....and for that, I will forever be grateful.