it's not all about the ride

Earlier this month we made the trek up north for a trail riding trip with Nemo & Koda in tow. The change of pace, different surroundings, friendly faces, and spending time away with our horses are memories we always look forward to making, and hold near and dear to our hearts.


As many times as we've ridden the same Nicolet National Forest trails, they always feel different. The ecosystem is ever evolving, and this year it offered a very lush forest. It was as if someone dumped buckets of different shades of fresh green paint, everywhere. The forest also offered something much less appealing, the worst mosquito/gnat/biting fly infestation we've ever experienced! Apparently after such a looong cold hard winter, the sudden hot weather hatched 5 out of 7 mosquito varieties all at once. Fun-fun, or more like swat-swat!!

We heard the bugs were bad beforehand, and armed ourselves accordingly. We picked up a couple Thermacell clip-on's, loaded up on fly spray and brought along fly masks for the horses. 

Nemo had started showing signs of trouble with his allergies the week before we left, and got checked out by the vet. The fly mask seemed to keep whatever was irritating him at bay, so we didn't medicate. Some years his seasonal allergies are an issue, some years not.

The bugs weren't too bad at our cabin site. We decided to head out late afternoon on arrival day to see what the buzz was all about. That didn't last long. We never made it off the main multi use trail, and turned back home shortly after leaving the ranch. The horses got swarmed by pockets of mosquito's, not fun for any of us. Koda was thrashing his head from side to side so bad that he actually yanked one of my reins right out of my hand. I wasn't very happy that he didn't whoa, and continued being an antsy-pants while spinning in a one rein stop fashion...I know he was understandably in a frenzy from the bugs, but still...whoa means WHOA!! We finished our ride in the much less buggy outdoor arena on the ranch, and called it good.

After going out for a quick bite at one of our favorite local bar eateries, it was campfire time!


The paddocks are right outside our cabin. It feels like the horses are all but sitting at the campfire with us. We love, love, love our campfire time!! 

where siesta's happen

Listening to the soft sounds of our horses munching hay, fire crackling, evening chirping, and the clear expansive star filled dotted sky....sigh...it's SO relaxing, and puts everything into perspective.

smoke follows beauty ;)

We tacked up and headed back out on the trail in the morning. This time it was Nemo that was clearly miserable, his head tossing was hard to manage. Poor guy. Nemo's allergies hit full force as soon as we left the ranch. We didn't get much further then the day before, and turned back around. Wondering if we should load up and take the horses back home? or just not ride?? We decided instead to see if we could get a hold of some medicine, and when/if it calmed Nemo's allergies down - then we would try trail riding again. 

We played telephone tag-n-text with our daughter, who works at our clinic, who got a hold of our vet, who called the local vet the ranch owners use for their horses, then we called, she called, they called - all to help Nemo be more comfortable, and make a difference. Altho everyone was super helpful and responded asap, this all took hours - including our little adventure we had picking up the medicine. Finding the north woods vet proved to be harder then we thought. No thanks to our phone GPS. At one point the GPS told us to get out and walk the rest of the way to our destination (not kidding!!) in the middle of nowhere...say what?!? We called the local vet, and found out we had another 30 miles or so to go. That would have been one heck of a looong walk! Needless to say we turned off the dumb@ss GPS. Guess we should have accepted the directions we were originally offered back at the ranch!

We gave the allergy medicine a chance to work overnight, and savored a nice dinner at one of our favorite supper clubs on the lake. I had my usual, walleye & scallops ~ mmmm! Of course we also enjoyed another p.m. & a.m. relaxing campfire, shared with our horses!

Brad's iphoto with caption that he sent to a few friends

"6:00am, horses eating breakfast, fire going,
 sitting back with a cup of coffee with my best friend.
Wish everyday started like this."

At first we were somewhat disappointed that we had barely ridden through the forest on this trip, but Nemo's comfort was more important. We truly enjoy being up north. It's not all about the ride...our trips are so much more then that to us.


On our last full day we headed out on the trail, going the opposite direction. It's got more hardwoods, so we figured it might be less problematic for Nemo's allergies. There was only one way to find out if he was better - and whala - the allergy med's worked! It felt good to be back trail riding in the depth's of the serene forest! 

The cooler weather made for less bug activity, so it was enjoyable. Altho Koda had gotten a taste of turning around from the prior attempted rides, and gave me some challenges. We worked through them, without dismounting. Some were easier then others, each scenario was resolved differently. Thankfully there were only a handful of "I don't want to go that way" and eventually he quit the sudden spin to change directions. 

Koda was on forward march the entire 3.5 hour ride. Needless to say we lead most of the way, and at times worked on rating his speed. Sometimes we do a little trotting on the stretches, but otherwise we walk the winding trails and soak it all in.

being one with the pines

sauntering through a sea of green

On leaving day, we opted not to ride. Some years we pack everything up before heading out for one last ride, and some years we don't. The boys were sooo relaxed, and comfy in their sandy paddocks... 


...so much that Koda attracted another camper who stood watching him lying flat out on his side sleeping for the longest time, and took pictures of him. 

It's wonderful to see that even the horses settle in and enjoy our trips. Everything moves at a slower pace in the north woods. Not that the local folks don't work hard, because they most certainly do. But when surrounded by vast nature, eventually relaxation sets in - if you let it. 

We had a wonderful trip, and wouldn't change a thing (minus mosquitos). It all serves a much larger purpose.

beauty is in the eye of the beholder


pasture time ~ 5 of 5

After seeing all horses playing together in the pasture, and each of Cierra, Nemo, and Koda's featured posts, this series closes out with a few quieter pasture times.

feels sooo good to be back together

unspoken words exchanged

what is THAT on your head?

visiting with neighbors

I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine

pasture time together is the best

I hope you've enjoyed viewing the photos as much as I've enjoyed taking and sharing them! Shooting pics of our horses in the pasture after we ride on the weekends has become an enjoyable part of our summer routine. 

Pausing, to soak in, what we so fortunately have as a special part of our lives... 

In other words, I've got more pictures to share! However I've got other things to talk about first, before those memories start fading. I will continue to intermittently post some collective pasture photos of our horses, while I've got 'em. How's that for incentive to blog? It's working for me! Go on, give it a try. Capture some memories, and let us share in your joy.


pasture time ~ 4 of 5

It's time to share some photos of Koda in the pasture! Action photos of him can be seen in post one, with all the horses playing. Because, well...while Koda can bust-a-move, it's a lot of effort and being the horse that he is, he favors other more relaxing pasture pleasures, namely grazing. Therefore he is the easiest horse to photograph, and is quite photogenic. Koda is also our goofball, a friendly lovable guy, that has kept us smiling throughout the years! 

lovvves to bury his face

enjoying a good roll on a hot day

always a curious guy

While exploring the swampy pasture area with me, he paused.
It literally made me say "oh, wow" out loud.
The picture doesn't do it justice, some things you just can't capture.
In part, this visit was a turning point back to togetherness...

watcha doing?


pasture time ~ 3 of 5

After post one of all three horses playing, and featuring Cierra in post two, it's Nemo's turn! The hardest horse we have to photograph, but also one of the funnest with those expressive appy eyes that are always on us. Horse dynamics are never lacking when the big guy is in the pasture, he is our alpha horse and caretaker of all. 

Nemo is smart, sensitive and very special - he's my hubby's million dollar heart horse. Not sure who loves who more, but they are fun to watch together! Nemo is our rock when we are out on the trail, 9 times out of 10 he is the horse that get's us through the sticky spots.

Nemo comes a'running

gotta keep moving
it's a big job keeping track of everybody

on the fly

prancing between his girl, and the neighbor boy

a softer side


pasture time ~ 2 of 5

Pasture time post one featured all three horses playingThis post the focus is on Cierra. She has grown into a beautiful mare, and still has her sweet lovable personality. It is so fun to watch her self induced running with her tail flagged and long mane blowing in the breeze! 

creating her own fun

looking for Koda & Nemo

making another round

she's a big girl now

coming over to visit

Thanks for spending some pasture time with us! Next post in the series features Nemo.


pasture time ~ 1 of 5

Spending more time with our horses makes me feel more connected to them. Plain and simple.

Maybe it's humanizing them, but I think they feel similar in their horse way. So much more one can do with horses when enjoying warmer weather. There is less need to rush, and longer days. Our rides aren't necessarily lengthier, but there are added things to do in hand. For example; hosing off or hand grazing - and when all the extra warm weather stuff is done, there is even more joy to be felt in watching horses interact in the pasture! Similar can be done in the winter as well, but beautiful weather lures one to linger - and pull out the camera!

Koda & Nemo are pretty nonchalant about being turned out. When Cierra gets added into the mix, there is sure to be some fun interaction in the pasture! Not only is she a girl but she's young and energetic, not to mention an instigator. Since Cierra is in training she doesn't get turned out as much as the boys, and is always happy to join them. She loves to stretch her legs, and that girl can run ~ fast! Cierra easily out runs Koda and Nemo.

She does her best to get the boys to play, it's way more fun if you have someone to join you. This is typical of what we see when we turn Cierra out with Nemo & Koda:

off we go

follow me

joining the fun

Cierra instigates

she gets pasture neighbors to play too

the far end of their pasture is a favorite play area

more horses more fun

they always keep an eye on us

enjoying pasture time together

Since she is the "belle of the ball" my next post will feature some shots of Ms. Cierra enjoying the pasture, followed by one each for the boys, and closing the series with quieter pasture times. Looking forward to catching up. Hope you and your horses are enjoying the warmer weather!!