just being together ~ happy new year

After a full day of indoor arena riding at the trail competition on Saturday, we wrapped the weekend up with an outdoor relaxing trail ride on the farm...sigh. We thought about giving the boys the day off, they certainly earned it. But a leisurely ride felt like the right thing to do. Just being together outside, without expectations. We have no snow, and therefore no ice. The sun was shining, it wasn't too cold, the air was mmm fresh...oh how I miss trail riding!!

Last Trail Ride of the Year
Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 is going to be a fun horse-filled year, I'm so looking forward to it! Thanks much for riding along, and sharing this past year. It means a lot to me. Wishing each of you a Happy & Healthy New Year, full of all the things you love!!


changing the story ~ 2nd in trail course series

Everything feels different towards the end/beginning of a year. There are gatherings filled with memories, anticipation, and reflection. Schedules shift, and everything feels a bit peculiar. When the December trail course date finally arrived, we welcomed the day away and all that it offered! A learning experience filled with challenges, friendships new and old, fun and laughter - lots of laughter - was sooo good for the soul!!

Interestingly enough, there was only one returning rider (besides us) from the first November course. The hosting facility called our trainer to see if we were coming. With only two signed up (guessing the sign up is at their barn?) they were thinking of canceling. Can't blame them, hosting is a lot of work! Good thing they didn't. They ended up with 13 different horses entered to compete, 15 courses ridden, and 2 horse/rider's practicing but not showing. We made sure the host knows now, consider us signed up for the series!

Cute tail on that roping dummy!
The gate rope had attached bells.
Thank goodness we arrived early enough to get some solid practice in, before the arena got busy. They had set up a challenging course, with things none of us thought to practice. Roping? duh! A teardrop back through? what's that? My hubby & I have never seen one (our trainer was kicking herself) and ohhh my, that was one tight serpentine!!

The December trail course:
Start: at Mailbox, retrieve & replace mail 
Walk to gate, turn at will, Work Gate, left hand push, close gate
Walk to 3 cones, turn at will, back through & around in a teardrop shape
Trot to poles, continue & Serpentine 5 poles, circle left & over pole, stop at bridge
Over bridge, stop at roping dummy
Swing & toss rope 
Walk to cone, 270 turn on haunches
Lope off right lead over pole, circle wide between back through cones & bridge, over pole, stop at beginning pole
Side-pass right, over pole
Exit at a Walk

The course was wide, and almost used the entire arena.
When not showing we were asked to use their extra stalls,
or hang out in the aisles or corners.

A snapshot of how our horses did:

Cierra was much better overall. She was great starting out, but as the arena filled up so did the stimulation, and her ability to deal with it. Typical of a young horse. They just don't know how to deal with heightened emotions. Brad has come a long way with her, and helped Cierra deal with the added energy. Our trainer Patty & I watched them work as a team, so proud of both of them! He chose to take the course second with her, completed the course as we cheered them on! Cierra still struggles with standing at the gate, altho she's had lot's of practice. Brad & I gifted our trainer with a new homemade sturdy gate for Christmas, but it only helps so much in new surroundings. Our trainer also showed her later in the course, with similar results.

New gate at our barn!

With Nemo, what can I say? Altho he had trouble dealing with the back through cones in practice (because of his personality) with help he figured it out, and rocked it by show time! Brad & Nemo placed 3rd, our trainer & Nemo placed 5th. He continues to prove to be the amazing horse that he is!! 

I was much more relaxed with Koda this challenge, altho I got the usual lack of effort on his part. When asked if I needed any help 
near the end of practice, I told our trainer I was struggling with keeping the trot through the serpentine (it was tight, the horses had to work) and of course the lope off. Yes I know, more leg. She offered to ride the practice course with Koda. She did, and made sure I knew afterwards that altho I always blame me, it isn't. She feels he isn't doing his part, meeting me half way. I know that, but I feel it's my lack of ability to get him to want to meet me halfway...I have no doubt, it will be a long road but we will figure it out together. I was very proud of Koda for not buying into the craziness a couple of the horses expelled, or better said, their young riders created... 

The two main things I got docked for: The dreaded (270) turn on the haunches...the move we've been struggling with...oh well, I'll keep trying. I also made a mistake on the pattern. Altho we nailed the lope off (I heard the supportive whistles, thanks guys!) I didn't circle wide, and instead took the harder version of the pattern ~ oops! Altho we completed it, I clipped the second pole. I can't complain, we placed fourth!!! 

We made a couple new friends throughout the competition, and ended up watching & hanging out in the "musical corner" (had to be there) where Brad eventually joined us. He picked up on it from across the arena...funny how those with a common outlook find each other without even trying.

Fun corner group
On the way home my hubby told me that now I'll have to change my showing story. I'm sure he's sick of hearing, "I've only ever shown once at a camp show, when I was 12..." I had sooo much stinkin' fun at the trail course competition, learned a bunch, even more then the first course...I didn't even know this was possible.


hand made Christmas equine cards

Sending wishes in the form of hand made cards has all but become a lost craft. Online photo cards are now the norm. These days I receive more of them, then even standard boxed holiday cards. I get it, anyone can create them. Photo cards are a simple way to showcase you & your's, and if you are a labeler, you don't have to write or sign a thing. No doubt, a relief for many in this busy crazy world we live in. Digital anything is fantastic, and who doesn't like to see smiling faces when they receive snail mail?!! Much more fun then opening bills.

While grumbling talking to my mom the other day, surrounded by mounds of carefully selected card parts, I mentioned I had no idea why I was spending countless hours hand making cards, that people promptly throw away December 26. Hardly anybody hand makes cards anymore. With her wise wisdom she said "it's something you enjoy, so just keep doing it"...thanks mom! I almost forgot. I really do enjoy the creative obsessing, process of details, searching for that one missing thing, even the methodical hand work of doing the same sequence 30 times in a row, and finally seeing it all come together in the end!

My cards all start with the photo. This year I wanted to feature Cierra. I've taken many photos of her this past year, but this one stood out. Such a happy beautiful girl, that loves galloping across the field. Then comes finding a sentiment that fits, the hardest part for me. Some years I flip flop the order, and find or take a picture to fit a pre-purchased saying. If I find stamp messages I like, I buy them. I am p-i-c-k-y, and they are hard to find. Enhancing photo's digitally, is always a delicate balance. I was able to make the grass kinda sparkle, and had way too much fun adding warped floating snowflakes! When I do volume, I print out of house since printer ink is so expensive. Card stock is matched, selected, trimmed to size and glued in place. I usually add more background layers, but not this year. I stumbled across a new snowflake corner punch, sitting all by itself. I think it had my name on it? I've never used die cuts on actual photos prior to this card. I'm so glad I experimented. I had previously found snowflake embellishments, in the button aisle, but wasn't going to use them. As you can see, I changed my mind. Something that happens frequently throughout the card making process. A person really can't have a saying like "Sparkle and Bright" and not add sparkles to the words, right? that doesn't take any time at all...and wouldn't it look nice to glue a crystal in the middle of the snowflake? It was then I realized, I must be nuts!!

But it truly makes me smile inside to see my handmade cards. My mom leaves them up all year long, and occasional I hear sincere comments from friends that also display them. If not with these, perhaps other cards I've created just for them. Photo cards, handmade or digitally, are a snap shot that chronicle where we are in our life journey. Many times the chosen photos have special meaning, that only those closest understand. Special memories, captured in time, taking us back to that feeling...

Merry Christmas blogger friends, wishing each of you a sparkling bright 2015!!


making a sandwich

I am having trouble making a sandwich. The meat keeps falling out. I haven't made a good sandwich for a while. The longer time passes, the sloppier my sandwich gets. I tried to fix the sandwich myself, but didn't fully understand how important it was to make a sandwich that doesn't fall apart.

I used to make great sandwiches. It's easy when someone hands you the ingredients already put together. But after a while, if the sandwich isn't made the right way, the bread can get crumbly. If you don't hold both pieces of bread together, the sandwich will fall apart.

That is exactly what is happening with Koda and I. No, I am not eating my horse for lunch. I am trying to turn on the haunches, and in the process losing his back end. I didn't realize how much work my leg needs until the past couple rides.

Five of us were spending time on riding, instead of spending it shopping on Black Friday, when something I said to our trainer triggered a sandwich analogy. It was an aha moment for me. Already circulating inside my head were things like "forward movement, tip nose, progress to tighter circles, stop/close circle and ask for continued turn with leg, more outside rein" apparently my hubby can read my face and said "stop thinking so hard". Funny how well spouses know each other. Not so funny how close to impossible not thinking is for me.

Our trainer knows I've been trying hard to learn more about working with my horse, doing more then just riding. She's offered helpful tidbits throughout the past weeks. Our turns improved, but far from correct. I can understand things all I want, but doing them is the challenge. I'm also lacking in that feel thing again. Not only do I need to work on my leg to make a better sandwich, I need to feel when Koda is doing the turn right/wrong. Because if you keep doing it wrong, well, that's exactly what you are going to continue to get - a turn done wrong. Sometimes I can feel what his feet are doing, sometimes I can't. Maybe I need to shut my eyes again, haven't tried that yet. 

So, what's all this talk about horses and sandwiches anyways? Think about their front end being one slice of bread, and their back end being another slice of bread. The stuff in the middle is the meat of the sandwich. If you don't hold both ends of your sandwich (or horse) evenly, the meat will fall out.

Now that I understand the analogy, I am hungry to make a better sandwich.

Fall 2014


out of my comfort zone ~ 1st in trail course series

Winter has a way of slowing things down, including riding time. Days are shorter, colder, and there is so much to do before XYZ that our motivation begins to easily fade. While we were freezing our butt's off, and the horses were less then thrilled to be riding in the cold, something new and different happened...

Unexpectedly, we got asked to participate in a winter Trail Course Fun Series. It is being held at a barn close to where our horses live. Our trainer is friends and shows with the host facility owners. We never would have heard about this event otherwise. She thought it would be a great way for Brad and Cierra to practice becoming a team, in a casual show type setting. He hopes to show Cierra in the 2015 show season in some Ranch classes, including Trail.

Our trainer asked if I didn't think it would be fun to ride Koda in the local trail series as well...ummm...I had no idea. Really, I didn't. I've only ridden in one fun show at horse camp when I was twelve, as if something that long ago even counts. Altho I do remember some of it. I rode a roan Appaloosa mare named Strawberry, and took second in my riding class. I also remember how nervous and worked up I was, as well as the warm support received from my camp counselor & cabin mates. Needless to say the uneasiness of "what if's" and preference to stay within my comfort zone has increased with age. Besides, competing with horses at any level has never been on my bucket list.

As the first trail course date got closer and details were getting hashed out, I got put on the spot. While tacking up, our trainer came over by me to find out if we were indeed going to the trail series. Which by the way was three days away. I tried responding with "ask Brad" and she said she already did. He told her to ask me - lol!! Apparently my hubby had played the "ask the spouse" card first...our trainer is a good egg for putting up with us two. She asked again, if I didn't think it would be fun to ride Koda in the trail competition. I didn't want to be the one to decide everyone's fate, so I responded with "you know the show, you know me, and you know my horse, if you think we can do it, then I am willing to try". You guessed it, we went.

I was so busy those remaining days prior, preparing and hosting our family holiday gathering & house guest, that I didn't have time to even think about riding an organized trail course. It's probably a good thing I didn't roll around in the fear of failure. None of our horses have ever trailered to an unknown barn full of new horses, altho as you know Cierra has been to a couple sanctioned shows. There would be a lot of first's...

We had briefly talked about the trail series on the way home from riding, several times. My hubby kept saying it would be no different then going on a trail ride. Au contraire. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised and found it was a great setting for newbie's, riders & horses alike! 

Nemo in the distance, Brad & Cierra riding forward, me & Koda riding away
Practice time starts, photo by High Pines

They offered a good long warm-up, and allowed in the saddle course practice (which is not allowed in a real show) before the judged trail course. The warm-up arena filled up closer to starting time, and everyone practiced. About 13 horses entered, with approximately 17 course entries (some horses did the course twice, with different riders). Each obstacle was scored 1-10 on various elements, there were no disqualifications or special tack requirements. Top six scores received a gift bag and there will be high point prizes at the end of the series. 

The hosts intend to increase the difficulty of the trail course, as the show goes on monthly into Spring. We all thought this first course was plenty challenging, even the seasoned riders. Altho the course series is just for fun, and it's completely unofficial, some of us talked about how nervous we got, and how funny it was that we even got nervous when it was our turn to ride the course.

The November trail course:
Start: Work Gate, right hand push, close gate
Trot through Serpentine, and through half of L to cone
Back through L
Lope right lead out of L, straight to box
Walk into box, perform a 270 turn to left
Walk out of box and over bridge
Walk to ground pole and side-pass left
Perform a 180 turn, walk to ground pole and side-pass right
Exit at a Walk

A snapshot of how our horses did:
It wasn't a good day for Ms. Cierra. She was very "looky" and never did settle in. Brad rode her first, for almost the entire time. Altho I was worried for him in certain instances, he did a good job working with her excess energy and they completed the course. Our trainer showed Cierra towards the end, and had a similar experience. I think it made Brad feel better to know, it wasn't just him.

Nemo was the usual rockstar and placed twice in the top six. Once on the course with our trainer, who rode him almost the entire time we were there, and once with Brad who gladly hopped on his familiar mount near the end of the show. They each earned a fun different goodie bag. Among other things, Brad's gift bag included this silly monkey...

The monkey's hands have velcro, and my hubby promptly hung him on his truck mirror. It's as uncharacteristic of Brad, as Cierra was at the trail course earlier that day. I hope the monkey hangs around for a while serving as a reminder, that makes him smile when things are less then fun. 

Koda and I did good together. We worked through our nerves early on, and practiced obstacles during the warm-up. The worst I got from him was when I first showed him the open service door by the L. He got high headed and snorted sooo loud when a pastured horse came rushing over the hill, the whole arena turned around. Our trainer was shocked, and asked if I needed to lunge him. Nope, he didn't even scoot or prance and quickly got over it. We had a couple struggles a few years back while encountering new horses on the trail. I really didn't know how he would react being in such tight quarters with unknown horses, but Koda has grown up and was so well behaved. I think he enjoyed the experience? 

It didn't take long during the warm-up to know I would have trouble with the "Lope right lead out of L, straight to box". I typically lope Koda off from a trot, not from a standstill and never right over a pole. Our trainer gave me a few helpful tips: back as far as you can, walk a few steps, shorten my reins, and ask firmly. By the time I found out what the pattern was (totally my fault) it was hard to get into that L spot to practice. I was able to unsuccessfully try twice. 

Brad & Cierra and me & Koda, between the pink & orange jackets
Rider's watching the course, photo by High Pines

As the competition started, things temporarily got quiet. Except for Koda. He chomped at his bit methodically, apparently out of boredom. Koda became the unofficial pace keeper, he sounds like a metronome. Everyone was so friendly that by the time I rode the course (think I went 5th?) I was ready. Nothing really mattered anyways, except for trying, as we cheered each other on.

As far as our scored course, it would have been a lot better if Koda hadn't eaten the gate decorations! Whoops!! He nabbed some of the grassy tall stalks, just as I reached to unlatch the gate...little stinker! Oh well, he wasn't the only one. I knew I was instantly doomed, since his first priority was getting the stalk in his mouth. We all had a good laugh as Koda proceeded to multi-task during the entire course, must have looked as ridiculous as it felt.

I got docked 5 points for his eating, some for clipping the box upon entering, and the judge also mentioned she didn't like how close I was to the poles on my side-passes.

Nemo & our trainer backing in the L
Judging the course, photo by High Pines

I thought the judge did a great job overall, and really appreciated her sharing her comments and suggestions afterwards. I never did see the scores, but could have. By the way, I didn't even realize it until I rode back to the group and several acknowledged me for getting my lope-off to the box!! 

We were at the show for what felt like a long time, 3-4 hours? A fair amount of it was standing, talking with other riders, and watching the course rides. Brad & I did sneak off for a short ride (I got permission) with Koda & Nemo in their nice big open outdoor arena. I would give my eye teeth to have a place like High Pines. Not fancy, but well kept with everything a horse person needs, including being tucked away off the road and surrounded by woods. 

I am sooo happy we went, and pleased with how things turned out...life has a beautiful unpredictability about it. To say I am looking forward to the next trail course day in December, would be an understatement. We not only enjoyed our time, met some nice people, but learned some valuable things about ourselves and our horses that need practice. 

My Sunday ride on Koda was great, it felt fresh and he moved out much better. I was reminded there is only one way to feel alive and grow, and it's getting out of ones comfort zone. I won much more then any prize would have given me at this first competition, things you can't put in your pocket, but instead hold near to your heart...


no trails, no tales

We have not made it back out on the trails, and are not going to before the last few close...it just hasn't happened, for many reasons. Altho we've been chipping away at our long list of winter prep for some time, the realization is that the only way to finish is to stay home and get 'er done. No trails, leaves me without tales...what's a horse blogger to share?? 

I could tell you that our horses got their Fall shots & Cierra got her teeth floated...

...or that I rode my horse on my special day! It found me appreciating that indoor arena I whine about, the cool strong wind would have blown us clear to the East Coast otherwise!

My hubby took my day off work (plus one) just to spend it with me, my favorite part of all the wonderful things we enjoyed on our relaxing get-a-way...

just the two of us

...including plenty of zen time, where I reminisced about treasured trail trips this past season...

Our June trip to the lush green Nicolet Forest, had a few too many of Mother Nature's pests. We took it in stride and enjoyed our time together with our horses regardless, on and off the trail...

where siesta's happen

Fast forward through the rest of a busy enjoyable summer, and onto the best trail riding months in the Mid-West...


In September we went on Cierra's first trail ride off the farm, at Ukarydee. We were so proud of her and discovered just how much she likes being out on the trail... 

Yellowstone Wildlife Refuge

...we enjoyed sharing the remoteness of the Yellowstone Wildlife Refuge with other ridersalong with the bridge crossing down in the valley.

White Mound

In October, fun trail adventures ramped up when encountering White Mound's brand new mudslide hillside trail. We also found ourselves riding together with like minded folks...

Kickapoo Valley Reserve

...the most exciting trail ride of the season was our first ride ever at Kickapoo Valley Reserve!! I love exploring new trails! Good company, good trail dog, beautiful Fall colors, and an exciting river crossing that resulted in a fun movie clip...

Nicolet National Forest

...we continued soaking up trail splendor during our second trip to the northern woods. It's all things nature offers at it's best, always so tranquil and beautiful! Friendly folks are everywhere to be found, making it feel like our home-away-from-home...

Kickapoo Valley Reserve

...and last but far from least, was what turned out to be our last trail ride of the season. Such a special ride, for so many reasons, exploring more new trails at Kickapoo. It was a great way to close out the trail riding season, with much to be thankful for and treasured memories to hold tight.

Without trail adventures, perhaps I could blog about...mmm??...hhhm?? Altho our arena rides are on-going, I don't have anything in particular horsey to share. If I'm quiet you know why, it's time to spin into Winter reflection...


WI Trail Survey

Just a shout out and effort to help spread the word to those of you who use the trails in Wisconsin. The WI DNR is doing a short trail survey. It's a good chance for horseback riders (and other trail users) to speak up!

Kickapoo Valley Reserve
Fall 2014

Click here for information on the trail survey and council. The actual survey link is below. I am not big on survey's (because they are often overused) but this one is easy to take. More importantly, it's an opportunity to voice your opinion on a subject that affects you and your horse. 

Let them know we as horseback riders exist, and that we care about the trails we ride. What type is preferred, and if maintenance, expansion or new trail creation is desired.

"In an effort to gather up-to-date information about the state of our trails, how they are used, what can be done to make them safer and more accessible, the council has created a nonmotorized trail use in Wisconsin survey [exit DNR]Please take a few moments to fill out the survey and share the link with fellow trail enthusiasts."


kickapoo adventure, take two

Tick tock, tick tock...trail closing dates are rapidly approaching. We had high hopes of getting back out on the trail at least one more time this year. There is so much peacefulness to be felt in the woods, it's were everything feels right. The perfect mix of appreciation, contentment, and unknown challenges mesh together to make a person feel alive, fulfilled, and very thankful to be living in the moment. 

Warmer then usual Fall weekend weather gave us first a day to work on nagging chores, then a day to set undone ones aside and enjoy life to it's fullest. We headed out for another Kickapoo Adventure, take two. 

There are so many options to explore with 8, 569 acres, you just have to choose somewhere to begin familiarizing yourself with what the area offers. We welcomed the sight of a couple other horse trailers parked along a wide grassy strip on Cut-off Road. It was close to the trails we planned on riding, providing easy on/off. We decided it would be a great place to start!

We crossed the gravel road, and headed up a grassy hill to begin our ride on the Cut-off Trail...

...weaving up and around....

...you'll notice Fall colors have muted. The leaves have dried and turned into rusty hues. At this time of year most tree's are bare, except for the evergreens. We head into the start of the pines...

 ...with in a short time we were overlooking the reserve, with a spectacular view...

We rounded the corner and found ourselves riding high along an open hillside where we came across our first challenge, or better said our first challenge came across us. A large buck had crossed the road down below, and was bounding up the path towards us, the one we were on...there wasn't much we could do perched on a hillside, but stand still until the buck saw us. So pretty to watch, and thankful the majestic buck eventually chose a path less traveled.

There are many wonderful peaks and valleys, along with sections that have scrappy trees growing in mass. Rock outcroppings treasures are tucked away, similar to what you see on the left of the photo below...

...in certain areas they appear with more frequency. We love rock outcroppings! They get bigger, and smaller, and sometimes you ride right next to them...

...these cute little guys were tucked inside one of the rock crevices. They welcomed us along the trail. I swear I heard them say, howdy! While I prefer mother nature do the decorating, it was funny. They were tactfully placed, and only a few inches high...

...we rode across a boardwalk that helps riders stay out of swampy ground. Shortly after maneuvering a small muddy water crossing, we entered a magical section of larger pines...sigh. I got lost in the moment, it was sooo gorgeous and surreal...light was filtered between the majestic trees and onto the soft amber pine needle carpet. You just can't capture it, so instead you soak it in. We began to head out and onto other terrain...

...at least four times throughout our ride, we crossed small water creeks. The boys were hesitant, and my hubby found it a bit frustrating. We've done a fair amount of water crossing with them, they should be used to it by now. Our horses are thinkers, and each water crossing presents unique footing. Most of them have muddy approaches. Some horses just plod right through water and mud, and some don't. It doesn't bother me, as long they eventually cross the water. For whatever reason, Nemo always seems to be asked to test the water first. Of course that makes it easier for us to cross, once Koda can see that Nemo didn't get swallowed...

...earlier in the ride we had turned off the Cut-off Trail, and onto Hoot Owl Trail. Both were so pretty and diverse trails, with hardly any rocky ground. To make a loop you do have to cross or ride a short time along the ditch of a couple roads. But it wasn't for long, and the roads were not busy. 

We maneuvered over and under many things, including a dead raccoon that was laying across the path nestled in the leaves. Before I saw it the boys walked right over it, or on it, not sure. No photos of that not so lovely sight. I made sure to walk around it on the way back, that was disgusting. Instead I focused on the trees...

...eventually we headed back down to the trailer...

...where Nemo uncharacteristically took issue with one of the trailers parked in front of ours. There was an odd sound coming from across the valley, and a hiker, but still we had walked past the same trailer on the way out. It was an unexpected challenge for Brad, that Nemo eventually got over. 

The sky had turned cloudy, and when we started untacked it began to sprinkle. We made the drive back to the barn, and eventually towards home. My new app came in handy, and clocked our trail ride around 3.5 hours and close to 10 miles...

...I reeeally loved these new trails we rode!! They had the right mix of everything, without being so risky. This might be our last trail ride of the year, most trails close November 15. If weather and schedules allow, we will go exploring again. It makes my heart sing.


grain of salt

Twelve minutes, twelve minutes...why do I need twelve minutes of inaccurate data to tell me what I already know? Maybe it's seeing the information in a visual graphic, or the competitive side of me wanting to do better now that information is in my face, or just because. 

Earlier this week I tried running the Equitrack app more diligently, twice. Once with my ride on Koda, where I carefully paused and restarted, whenever we paused and restarted, and once with my ride on Nemo, where I decided pausing was a hassle. Running the app the entire time during Nemo's ride would be a good comparison anyways. I got the same inaccurate results using the app both ways. Below is the hybrid map of Nemo's ride. It didn't record any part of our indoor ride. I'm not going to bother sharing the inaccurate tracking graphics, and Koda's ride map looks similar:

It's really not the app's fault, it's the lack of cell reception. I started both boys in the outdoor arena, which is still too wet for faster gaits, and then moved indoors to finish our rides. I spent more time indoors then out. Imagine my disappointment when I checked the app out of curiosity to see where we were with ride time, and noticed it had not changed since I last checked it outside. Clearly the app does not record data without GPS. Time to - step away from the app - and take all the inaccurate data with a grain of salt. 

I had both arena's all to myself this day, and spent the morning riding alone. Well, I was with the horses of course. I rode Koda first, he moved out better then our previous ride. Nemo was good too, except for his lope. I loped him enough to know to stop. I do think we could have put it together better had I kept going, but Nemo's lope has a very different feel then what I am used to. It's kinda like a rocking horse, but this time it felt like it was on the rockers ends, with not enough forward movement. Waaay forward, then waaay back. It didn't help he was preoccupied with looking at the light peeking under the service door. I decided to leave loping alone for now, until I get to know him better under saddle. Nemo has a fantastic jog, so we just enjoyed more of that!

After I got done riding both horses, I turned the wild child Cierra out to burn off some stalled energy. She had been calling us off/on through the morning. The girl had many bucks, crow hops, rears and squeals to get out of her system. As usual she ran faster then the wind! I watched her stunning beauty from afar. Koda & Nemo didn't flinch the entire time. One would think they are a couple of old men, but they are only seven. What a difference three years makes, that and daily turn out to just be a horse...wish I had gotten my camera earlier.

Nemo & Koda enjoying a buffet,
while Cierra goes cray-cray

Before I headed home I had to visit the resident baby horse Cash, who is growing fast. Such a sweet guy! I would take him in a heartbeat, if he was for sale and we had our own place. He is in a bit of a fugly stage, but still so darn cute. I'll share some updated pics of him soon. 

Hope you all take time to get outside and enjoy horse-time this weekend, before the snow flies!


app-solutely revealing

It was a busy weekend on the home front, unfortunately I have no colorful trail rides to share. Might be a good thing, considering all the rain we got during the week.

With a portion of the outdoor arena still under water, the one weekend ride we did squeak in was indoors. Sigh. Our inside rides feel different. The arena is smaller, sand deeper, obstacles are scarce, and barn distractions are but a short glance away for horse and rider. Both Nemo & Koda seem to be a little off the last couple arena rides. Could be one of many things, including a shift of the seasons. The fact that it is both horses, leads me to believe just that. Like it or not, the indoor riding season is rapidly approaching.

Instead of progressing, I feel like Koda & I are slipping backwards with our rides. Two steps forward, three steps back. Our technique is falling apart. Turns on the forehand were sloppy and our lope was back to hitchy. Brad decided to take a couple video clips, and I didn't like what I saw. It felt exactly like it looked. Not horrible, but Koda & I can ride together much better...time to refocus and rebuild our practice.

I decided to try starting up the Equitrack app again, and this time the GPS worked indoors. I started it at the far end of the arena, away from what I believe is "the dead" cell zone. What I learned was app-solutely revealing...

I only rode for 12:27 minutes...what?!! A couple things did factor in while I was in the saddle. I watched Brad & Nemo for extended stretches, trying to see if I could pick up on anything that looked off. I was also socializing with another rider. I find that when we share the arena with other riders, I don't focus as much on my own ride. I am preoccupied with not getting in peoples way, and being friendly.

As far as the overall elapsed/program time, in this case it doesn't reflect total time in the saddle. I forgot to turn the app off after dismounting. It includes picking up cones, untacking, chatting it up in the aisle, hand grazing, and even walking Koda back out to the pasture - whoops! All time was spent with Koda, and in-hand is as important (if not more) as riding. However the revealing thing here is, I only rode 12-ish minutes. That is pathetic. I wouldn't bat an eye if we lived nearby & rode frequently, but we travel 40 minutes one way - to ride. 

While I am a firm believer that it's not the amount of time a person spends - but the quality that counts - this still tells me a lot. I need to put much more effort into our ride, whatever that time ends up being, if I want Koda to do anything similar. Especially indoors.

According to the app (based on his weight and I assume speed & time) Koda only burned 108 units (calories?) of energy. Not an exact method of calculation, but still interesting. What is that, about a handful of hay? No wonder he isn't looking as fit. I can all but guarantee Koda isn't running around in the pasture, except maybe to get to the free-feed round bale of hay they recently added. I on the other hand am still burning up the energy charts at a big ol' zero - ha! 

I did notice the top circle speed filled into the tracking screen, for whatever that's worth. 

Below is the hybrid map for this ride. The yellow square is the indoor arena. I'm guessing the blue stuff outside the yellow square is a result of the GPS dropping, except for when it tracked our walk towards the pasture. The barn wing where I untack wasn't tracked at all, clearly a cell phone dead zone. 

Our riding stats from last weekends outdoor arena/pasture ride clocked me at 36:27 min riding time, for 1.51 miles, compared to this indoor rides paltry 12:27 min riding, for .57 miles. That pretty much says, we like to ride outside!! I think it would be valuable to continue viewing riding stats, but what I really need to work on is my lack of indoor riding enthusiasm!! I find the map tracking pointless in an arena. I wonder if the app will track a ride without the GPS on? Something appy to try next time!