winter year end update

Hello, hellooo, hellooo...the lack of presence on my blog this past quarter was not intentional nor for any particular reason. It just happened. Before we close out the year, here is a winter (less) update...with mostly iphone pics. The boys are usually back inside by the time we get to the barn, and it's just too dark inside to use my good camera without a flash (won't use one with horses). Besides the lack of snow, here is what's been happening lately:

At the end of November, Koda was cleared to ride. We began slower then recommended and increased to 15-20 minutes of walking. I've just begun to add in brief trotting this past week. I'm happy to say I've been the only one riding him, and more so that he has been a really good boy throughout the process! I'm sure his testy Appy-tude will surface as more is asked of him, if so it's then that I'll seek help. We have a long long way to go during the healing process, but we are off to a good start.

My favorite view, even if just surrounded by sand

Koda is not cleared to go back in the big pasture with Nemo & Cierra (too many shenanigans) and instead hangs out during the day with a middle aged mare friend named Liz, in a smaller more level pasture. There is a small section of shared fencing between the two pastures, and our horses can see each other. We are fortunate our trainer & the two gals that work for her are so caring.

Nemo in far left pasture, Koda in right
Our panel paddock is still up inside the pasture, just incase.

Brad alternates between riding Nemo, and riding Cierra while working towards his goal of showing her in Ranch Classes. Here she is during a quick "stretch your legs" turnout in the indoor on Nemo's riding day (excuse the too big borrowed halter). 

Cierra, stretching her legs

Nemo & Brad
with Belle kitty, she was hoping to ride

It's been really quiet riding at our barn so far this winter. Most days it's us, and this spotted guy. He greets us and always makes us smile.

Happy loves to greet our truck,
 if only he could fit through the cat door!

Playing ball with Brad
Happy loves him best, second only to his owner

Speaking of happy, not only am I happy to be back in the saddle with my boy - I am actually using my new saddle! Nothing like waiting over a year for something special to arrive, and then not being able to use it for endless months... 

However it was worth the wait, absolutely love it! The roomier seat (per their recommendation) was an adjustment, but feels right now. I sit centered, and my legs hang in the right place. Of course I haven't loped in it yet, that's the real test. I may not be doing as much of that anyways. My sore left foot (yes, I match my horse) mentioned in my last blog update, turned out to be a ruptured tendon across the bottom of my arch and a split tendon up the side of my ankle. No more impact activities for me :( I have to be careful with any activity in general. It's life altering, but I'll get used to it. Don't have much choice. Surgery is not recommended. We all have our less then desirable things to deal with, as aging reveals. A saddle that fits right is even more important now. Thank goodness I have a forever one now! There are a few more saddle pics on my photo website if you are interested. 

If your eyelids haven't closed and you are still reading along, thank you so much for being part of this blog. Wishing all my blogger friends a wonderful end to the year and an even better beginning to a New Year. Best wishes for Good Health and Happy Trails in the year to come!!!


Merry Christmas from me to you

Wishing you peace, health & happiness throughout this holiday season!

My Handmade 2015 Card

The cover photo is Harmony, I took it a few years ago,
 when we actually had snow....the bottom is the inside stamped message.
I may be out of sight, but you are not out of mind.

Looking forward to catching up with everyone in the new year, if not sooner.

Be well & have a very Merry Christmas!!


Fall update

It's time for a Fall update...

A few weeks ago, Koda had a set-back when we tried swapping out his older mare pasture companion for Nemo. For days the boys ignored each other in the small front pasture. It wasn't long before they decided to kick their heels up, like old times. Consequently, Koda was pulled out of the pasture. Our visit shortly after revealed that Koda's stride was off again, but this time on the other front foot. Not sure why, perhaps from compensating for his weaker foot. After talking to the vet, we put him on bute and stall rest for a few days, and then he went back to small paddock turn out. 

We already had a follow-up vet appointment set, and while you could see Koda was still somewhat off, he had bounced back significantly in a short time. The hoof test revealed no soreness on the right, and still some on the original injured left side. We did the last recommended third Shockwave Treatment on the left, and began the turn-out process all over again. Small paddock for two weeks, small pasture with older mare for four weeks. In six weeks, if he stays sound, the vet said we can begin light riding. Time will tell.

I'm not sure at what point Nemo gets added back into his life, and if Koda ever gets to go back to the big pasture (where I think the injury occurred). In my mind he needs to be able to run pain free in a pasture, before he can be ridden. I'll find out more when the time comes to discuss his progress further. It's all one big yo-yo guessing game...but there is still hope that one day this will be behind us.


With Brad's encouragement, I've started going with him to the barn and briefly ground working Koda. I've also begun riding Nemo again. My husband is being very patient, and I love him even more for it. 

Koda is proving Brad right. It appears he wants to be my horse. His eyes softly seek me, even when he is suppose to be paying attention to other things. I wouldn't believe him, but I have seen (and felt) it over and over. Koda is a thinker, and is expressive. Doesn't change anything, his "classroom clown" personality remains the same. It is who he is. But what it does, is make me want to try harder and be stronger - for all of us. 

It's nice to see things falling back into place, albeit painfully slow. Regaining my confidence on the ground and having things feel normal (whatever that is) again will be a long time coming. It's extremely humbling. 


Our Fall trail trip to the north woods came & went, horseless. We hit the start of peak colors, and they were beautiful, but the north woods are just not the same without our horses. 

Did I mention I came up with a sore left foot back in September? You know what they say, there are parallels to one's animals. I was logging in some serious hours this summer walking in a conservancy with my neighbor, that's no longer happening. I even had to scale back on my beloved yoga. I'll turn into a big ugly ogre if I can't be active (just ask my hubby) so I'm practicing on accepting life's never ending modifications...


get out of jail card

The first Shockwave Treatment appears to have been effective! It was a unanimous conclusion among the four of us that had gathered for Koda's follow-up appointment. The vet, our trainer, Brad and myself agreed that Koda had improved since he received the treatment. He was sound to the left, and had just a tiny hint of lameness visible when going towards the right. You really had to look hard to see anything off.

Koda got his "get out of jail card" and proceeded to "go". In this case "go" is full pasture turnout. The increased potential for re-injury is scary. You can't wrap them up in bubble wrap, they do what comes natural. We were at a good point to try full pasture turnout, so we did.

A second Shockwave Treatment was given, and the next morning Koda was turned out to pasture. One week later, things are still going good.

Instead of turning Koda out with Nemo in their regular big pasture, he is being turned out with a docile middle age mare in a pasture about a third of the size. It's a good intermediate step. A step that I think us humans needed, more then the horse. 

Nemo is an Alpha, and his favorite horse to put in order is his brother. Altho they are stalled at night next to each other, they haven't been turned out together the entire summer. Keeping them separate during this step was probably a wise choice.  

Our next appointment is scheduled for three weeks. We will reevaluate Koda, possibly do a third Shockwave Treatment and make a longer term care plan. 
I'm curious to see what that will be, and how this evolves...

Photo credit: Brad


the right direction

Koda continues doing well after his first Shockwave Treatment. He has officially progressed from 15 minutes of hand walking 2X a day, to half day turnout in a small paddock. We all agreed the round pen wouldn't be ideal, for many reasons. Since there were no other smaller options, Brad & I hauled in some of our panels. We got permission to set up a portable paddock in the grass, just for KodaLast weekend was the first time since early June that Koda went outside without being attached to a human.  

Between snorting at anything and everything that didn't move, we had a bit of photo fun on the last day (hopefully!?!) of routine hand walking...

Koda moves slowly

My guy has to keep him on the go

Spotting the cranes in the field

Koda tries to act on it, but get's redirected

A little lunging at the walk,
with light rope entertainment

"Do you see what I have to put up with?"

"First the rope tricks, now he is hiding..."

"Peekaboo, seriously..."

"Thank goodness, we are done walking"

"Did I forget to mention, he sings too"

Koda loves every minute of attention, and pokes at the phone for Brad to turn the music on if he forgets. Apparently Koda has a favorite song that sometimes comes on near the end of their walks, the five minute extended version of the Brothers Osborne song "Stay a Little Longer". I love that song too! Koda knows as long as the music is playing, he get's to be outside. I'm very grateful for the extra care not only Brad, but the gals at our barn have given Koda. They both created a music playlist to walk him. I'm sure he loves music now! The effects of his injury are far from over, but I feel like we are heading in the right direction. 

First time in the temporary paddock.
It's next to the outdoor arena,
within view of his regular pasture & mates.


the hope and the healing

After spending the lions share of yesterday at a horse show, I am reminded of all things horse. The good, the bad and the ugly. Watching everything from effortless beauty to real struggles, even from the most experienced handlers - along with the usual undesirable stuff. The kindness and camaraderie out shined any negative, along with the cuteness that was to be found. Just like in real life, for those that choose to embrace it.

I melted with hope, when a tired Cierra greeted me by resting her pretty head in my hand. Her eyes got heavy and slooowly closed, falling asleep in my hands while I softly stroked her face...such a sweet mare. It set the tone for the rest of my show experience. I'm really glad I went. It was a reminder of what I miss most. Not the show, the horse interactions.

While I am an optimist, I am also a realist. Getting back to a horse life that feels semi-normal (whatever that is) isn't going to be easy. The only way I know to start, is by doing. Of course physical healing has to happen too. Koda's shockwave appointment is today. I'm hopeful it will help. I know it can't hurt (other then our pocketbook). I miss my beautiful boy...

Before I left the show I stopped by Cierra's stall to say goodbye. She quit eating her grain, lifted her head and held her muzzle close, for me to kiss. Horses have a special way with healing. I choose to embrace it.


Koda update

Koda's update can be given with two words: still lame. For more detail, read on. 

After four more long weeks, he was re-evaluated by a different vet from the same clinic. The conclusion was that Koda has improved, but not enough. The recommendation is to continue stall rest and hand walking. It is working, albeit slowly.

I found it interesting the vet mentioned this is the "year of lameness". Apparently they are treating a significantly higher then average number of horses in this area, makes a person wonder why. 

Sending a big shout out and thanks to Lorie from C-ingspots blog for sharing her clinic experience of an alternate treatment, Shockwave. I found out our vet clinic also offers Shockwave Treatment, and asked about the effectiveness specific to Koda's injury. This vet recommends it and feels it has a high probability of being effective vs the original vet, who felt it (or other alternate methods) wouldn't effectively reach the injured area.

Without an MRI, we don't know exactly where the soft tissue injury is - which makes healing Koda somewhat of a guessing game. We decided to go with the higher odds recommendation that most soft tissue foot injuries are on the outer surface, fully knowing Shockwave might not be effective for Koda. 

He is scheduled for his first treatment next week, then re-evaluated in three weeks before the tentative recommended second treatment (3 or 4 treatments are deemed better). Yep that makes four more weeks, which seems to be a reoccurring theme. As of today my lameness tracker puts us at 20 weeks from the start, and close to 10 weeks of stall rest...add these four upcoming weeks, and then a pending second treatment, and...

I'm beginning to think my original concern with not doing an MRI might be a valid one...at the end of this lameness ordeal (there will be an end, right??) we will have spent just as much $, wasted a ton of time, and made things worse for all of us - especially Koda. 

We didn't opt for the MRI mostly because of the cost, and it isn't always a guaranteed revealed answer. In addition, some of the treatment for this type of lameness is the same regardless of the specific tissue injured. It likely would have been a more informative route to go, but we live by our choices.

The only thing that really matters is that Koda comes out of this sound. Perhaps then, the rest of the healing can begin...

long road


where the wild things run

Who remembers these vintage rocking horses?

My kids rode this one back-n-forth, over & over, until the horse's nose and tail would all but touch the floor of our porch!!

It was a garage sale treasure find, back in the day when I couldn't afford much of anything. I had been searching for one. Wish I knew how old it was....the only mark I can find on it looks like three small initials molded on the horses belly.

I had planned on someday making the horse part into a garden display with a carriage of some sort, but I can't bring myself to take the rocking horse apart. It's solid, springs & all.

Of course they still make versions of these rocking horses, but this one is special to us. Just look at him, running free in the hay field...

...waiting for the next child to saddle up and dream of where the wild things run.


keeping it real

After close to three weeks, I went to the barn for the first time to see Koda. The steamy, leftover wet weather kept us inside for the most part. It was uneventful, and quiet. I just observed, no handling. Wasn't sure what to expect. It's been so long since I've been there, everything felt odd.

Brad is doing a great job with Koda and coming up with ways to keep things interesting for both of their sake. It's incredibly boring otherwise. Can't imagine what Koda is going through with his dull stalled life. I'm worried about more then his mind, his physique is bulging in places I've never seen before. Guess that happens when you stand around doing nothing 23.5 hours a day, 7 days a week. Food has been adjusted accordingly, he still has to eat and keep his system moving.

Koda's personality hasn't changed, but he looked a bit depressed to me and had to be encouraged to keep pace. Brad got a couple raised ears in key spots, otherwise Koda obliged with what was being asked of him. Of course he is more animated when walked outside, where he usually enjoys his un-jailed time. 

Absolutely love that Brad is mixing things up & giving Koda things to think about! Can't get too active tho, Koda needs to be kept walking calm. Here is a short video of their indoor session walk yesterday...

and some love for a job well done...

Brad & Koda

After that it was outside for a snack, then Nemo & Cierra's time to get a little love too.


changing of the guards

You know those days when you arrive at the barn and everything is off kilter? You can see it the minute you pull in the driveway, and you can certainly feel it when you walk in the barn. 

Hay was being delivered on a semi, tractors were unloading, staff was working double time, feeding was late, horses displaced in the arena & round pen, high energy scattered everywhere. Even the kid lesson horse being walked in from the pasture was set off by the commotion. That should have been my clue, but I didn't feel part of the chaos and carried on with my usual daily lame care routine. Groom, wash rear/legs, walk...and then it happened. I've known all along this whole stall rest thing would be our demise, just based on Koda's personality & our history, but never once in a million years did I think it would be in hand.

I chose to do our 15 minute walk in the outdoor arena, so we would be out of the way. Not one sign of "it" creeping in, or I would have waited to walk Koda. Everything in our routine so far felt normal, honestly wasn't the least bit concerned. We got mid-arena, and everything that happened after that replays in my head (over and over) like a slow motion movie...

Nemo & Charlie (turn out buddy) were about to be brought in. Their pasture borders the far end of the outdoor arena. Charlie was taken out first and instantly got himself in trouble. Koda's ears went on high alert. I reminded Koda he was with me, and tried to continue our daily walk. Nemo started racing the fence and frantically calling out. It was then that we turned around to head out of the arena. Thinking it was best to walk Koda back to his stall and wait for things to settle down. Wish I knew what Nemo was screaming saying behind us...whatever it was, sent Koda into panic.

I wasn't sure if he was going to run me over as we walked out of the arena, at that point I was no longer calm. Koda was about to blow, and he did. Thankfully he waited until we got through the gate. He pulled away fast and hard, rearing up, feet paddling at me, trying to get away, going backwards, as I hung on trying to stop him from taking off and injuring himself further. This happened not once, but twice, all in a nano second. I tried getting him to calm down & graze (yah, right). At this stunned point, I was shaken and knew Koda wasn't coming back to me anytime soon. I could see & feel him thinking about his next evasive move. He wanted to be with Nemo and away from the scary things, including me. My instinct was to face him towards the arena fence to try and calm his elevated madness (no I didn't trap him, I was giving him a boundary).

At that point Charlie had been put away, and I asked the kind employee for help. She saw the whole thing and brought a lead with chain, saying "wow, that was pretty bad"...no arguments there. I asked if she felt okay putting Koda away, my nerves were completely shot. She does his morning walks and led a confused, prancing high off the ground, Koda back to his stall.

What the H just happened? I've never seen Koda act like that, not even as a yearling...

I began putting away my tack, shell shocked, stripped finger dripping blood, as our trainer approached. Let's just say we had words, the kind that don't help. In many ways I know she is right. But if he has to be walked with a chain, in my eyes there is a problem. I refuse to tiptoe around my horse. I know he is an animal. I know he is stalled. I know the surrounding energy was off the charts. I know I got scared. I also know there are always options. Don't tell me there aren't. Unfortunately we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and he is 40 minutes away (one way).

After seven years of trials & tribulations, we failed as a team. Again. I'm extremely disappointed (and sad) Koda didn't trust me enough to get him/us out of a sticky situation. We've slid down muddy hillsides, ridden them sideways, crossed raging rivers, leaped boulders etc...there isn't a single thing I would have done different. Therefore, I'm done. Of course I am also disappointed that I allowed myself to feel scared, but uncontrolled energy scares me. It's my reality. And this my friends, brought on the changing of the guards. I feel I am not the best person for Koda at this time, possibly ever. Most of the time we are fine, but it's simply not worth the risk. I don't want him to re-injure himself (or me) so I've stopped walking him. Pathetic, but true.

Not sure what the future holds. I firmly believe if you can't handle a horse on the ground, you best not be getting on it's back. If your thinking it, replacing Koda wouldn't solve anything. He is a great horse, and part of our permanent family. Seriously considering throwing in the towel. Some things are just not meant to be. It's been tough since the changing of the guards, doing lotsa soul searching...

My sweet hubby didn't hesitate to step up to help with Koda's daily needs and while I'm very thankful, I feel terrible. It's a gigantic time commitment. At Koda's five week vet recheck, Brad said he was clearly still lame at a trot (in hand). Four more weeks of stall rest before another recheck... 

Incase you are wondering, Koda is now being walked with a lead chain. Know that I'm not against them perse, they are definitely a safety tool when used properly. It's just such a shame, the whole damn thing. This is going to be a long drawn out process for everyone, especially Koda. Poor baby :(

my beautiful boy


grazing daze

Driving 40 minutes (one way) every day this summer to help care for my horse, wasn't part of my plan. We are three weeks in to his stall rest, and to put it mildly, it is B-o-r-i-n-g! With a capitol B. Koda seems to remain in good spirits, me not so much.

I'm thankful his stall is dead center of the busiest aisle in the barn, so he has distractions & neighbors. They walk him every morning and I groom, walk, and graze him every night. The only thing that seems to bother him is his stomach, requiring partial baths as needed. Let's just say I learned a new use for vaseline.

We started Koda on probiotics and are working on figuring out how to further adjust his dietary needs to his new sedentary lifestyle. The probiotic doesn't seem to be working very well on it's own. We may end up trying some other random remedy's I've heard to date, everything from senior feed, psyllium, kaopectate, yogurt, beet pulp, and someone even suggested aloe vera gel. I got the call this morning to pick up some psyllium from the vet to add to Koda's regime. 

Standing around in a stall with no riding or running isn't helping this big barrel horses situation. He is getting fluffier by the day. Koda is a horse that does best with regular activity, both with his physique and his mind. Me too. I can't even imagine what we will be like under saddle when healed...sadly sooo far away. I do hope there is a bright side to this situation.

With so much idle time spent just standing around, finding interesting things to pass the time is a stretch. Our grazing daze includes...

watching previous pasture mates, Nemo & Charlie 
adjusting to a different barn schedule then everyone else
searching for red clover, Koda's favorite
grazing with four legged friends
grazing with family 
watching Nemo ride
trying to enjoy the long daze


koda update & horseless trip highlights

We stopped at the barn before heading out for our horseless trail trip to check on Koda. He came galloping up to greet us! Clearly the bute made him feel better, which in turn made me feel better. Funny how that works. You could still see him resort to limping at times, his lameness was far from gone. Knowing Koda was doing much better, made leaving easier.

We enjoyed our shortened horseless trip, but I would be lying if I said there wasn't a second that we didn't miss having Koda & Nemo with us. Nothing like staring at empty paddocks outside your cabin window. The void was most felt during our campfire time. We reeeally missed sitting at the fire with our boys! Hearing their soft chewing, knickers, and even the clanging hay bags. It's one of the things we love most about our horse trips north.

Fun was had with some of the usual non-horse stuff, and we enjoyed a few new adventures. We came across this little fellow during a morning walk, and helped him across the road to safety.

Hiking to Bagley Rapids was a trip highlight. It reminded me of our Colorado years. Horses can't access the spots we climbed to be in the midst of the rapids...there are no words for how much I love being one with nature!! 

We also found another lookout in the area, with a pretty lake view. There was one pile of evidence indicating horses have access. Not sure which trail the horses take to get to it, certainly not the one we hiked. The view pales in comparison to the southern lookout we usually trail ride up to.  Maybe it just looks higher & better from a horses back? I'm terrible at iphone photos, especially selfies...but at least we have a good laugh trying!

The WI Cowboy Dressage group arrived the day before we headed out. It was nice to meet a few of those folks. I've wanted to get back to doing Cowboy Dressage forever, especially since it became a formalized thing. Of course that would require having a horse to ride. Which leads me to Koda's update...

The vet blocked Koda's sore left foot yesterday, it confirmed soft tissue lameness (not caused by early navicular). His limping disappeared and nothing surface in his other (right) leg. So stall rest it is, 4-6 week until reevaluation. Fully knowing complete healing will take much longer. Other vet recommended care includes:

- Hand walking 2X a day (15 minutes-ish each, per day)
- Stop bute (unless he comes up super lame again)
- No re-shoeing (more comfortable barefoot)
- Regular trimming continued
- H
old off on Osphos (navicular shot) for now

I fully agree with all of the above. Too many things given/done at the same time and a person can't possibly know what is working and what isn't. In the interim, I plan to educate myself more on all of the above, spend a lot of time in hand with my boy, try to find some level of connection under saddle with Nemo...and just be thankful things aren't worse.

Koda & I will be spending a lot of time
hand grazing this summer


may flew by ~ an update

Apparently I'm tongue tied again. I didn't share a single thing in May, and yet much has happened in my equine life. The best way to attempt to catch up is a misc update. Here we go, in no particular order:

I'm 0-2 for photographing horse shows so far this season 
Cierra didn't show at the first one, due to the EHV virus. Attending horses came directly from a previous show with confirmed case (s). Several of the area barns stayed home and did not risk of exposure.

Our trainer showed her in Ranch Classes at the second show, and made valuable strides. Placing right behind the big guns. Brad's goal was to learn a lot, and he did. He studied the competitions, and rode her a lot during practice hours. Brad traveled north to the show and I traveled south, to help my daughter with our first newborn grand baby. Six days is the longest Brad & I have ever been apart...let's just say we honed our texting skills & are happy to be back together.

Koda is lame again
He healed over time from the first signs that surfaced at the end of March, and was completely sound at all gaits for three weeks of our regular arena riding. I thought we were out of the woods. Silly me. When I came back from traveling, it took two steps out of the pasture for me to know he was off again. X-rays revealed early stages of Navicular, altho this visible reoccurring lameness is most likely from his previous soft tissue bruising. I decided to forgo the $2,000-ish MRI to confirm which one of the two evils was the culprit. I had front padded plates put on him for now to relieve pressure. He is already somewhat better. 

Our vet participated in an Osphos study for Navicular with favorable results, and Koda is tentatively scheduled for a treatment. I must admit I am a little apprehensive about anything new. Time and (re) evaluating will reveal more layers of answers as we move forward. He is expected to be able to continue with our regular programming. We sure do a consistent job of living the adage "one step forward, two steps back"...

Nemo's allergies are raging
We also returned from our travels to find poor Mr. Nemo in full blown allergy mode. He is back on seasonal Dex, which is taking longer to work this year. It's a bad allergy season. For the first time he is sporting a double fly mask. Nemo was feeling better, I rode him last week. But this weekend he is miserable again, poor guy. 

Our first trail trip of the season will be horseless

It appears like it's going to be "one of those years" when we don't get to enjoy the trails much with our beloved horses. Yes, we do have two other rideable horses in our family. However Cierra is in training. She can certainly enjoy local trails, but it's not fair to whisk her away for extended trips. I wouldn't be comfortable riding our daughters horse Harmony on the trail. I've not trail ridden her, but guess she spooks at everything. Not to mention it's been eons since I've even ridden her in an arena. She's a bit too edgy for me. 

RIP Emma 
The new foal at our barn is gone too soon, due to colic. Felt so bad for her momma. I've never seen a horse so sad. I loved on Dolly while at the barn, sweet mare. I didn't manage to photograph her big spunky pretty baby while she bounced around in the field the past couple weeks. A good reminder to click before it's gone.

Going nowhere fast
Our wishful quest to move to a place where our horses can live with us is going nowhere fast. The options looked promising at the end of March, and then they fell flat. There is nothing even on the market that fits us. Acreage is either too far away, non existent, or out of our price range. Guess we won't be living with our horses any time soon. Sigh. I'm okay waiting for the stars to align, and they will. In the meantime we'll keep saving pennies.

Aurora Williamson Photography is on Facebook
I tried not to do it, really I did. Social Media for businesses was part of my job for years. Personally I don't like the Facebook platform, there I said it. However, some things are best not avoided. Like closing a business website and "replacing" it with Facebook - it's not remotely the same people!!! Saving that rant for another day. You are welcome :)

The Google gods count every stinkin' online thing, when done well. Speaking of doing things well, I've got a lot of never ending online work left to do!! I don't mind Facebook for businesses, but the personal side of it is soooo fake. On the other hand, I really like Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest for the different flavors they offer. I would forgo a personal page on Facebook, but you can't have one page type without the other. With all that said, join me on my new business page!! I mostly share pretty pictures (mine & others) along with inspirational thoughts. Think positive my friends!


roll out the barrel

Days have turned into weeks, and my saddle time continues at the speed of walk. I think my sore back is finally calmed down enough to begin progressive riding?! I know it will be limited at best, as I still find myself bracing. My stiffness promptly results in a "what's your problem" look from my horse. We've lost so much ground. Sigh. Every time we restart, which seems to happen a lot to us, the connection comes back faster. Right? At least that's my hope.

For a change of pace, we rode in the pasture last night. While Brad & Nemo loped a storm up, we plodded along enjoying the sights and sounds. Up and over, around - but not through the low lying area filled with thick black horse sucking mud. It was a beautiful night to be outside riding!

My hubby, the adventurer, was up to no good and looking for a challenge. Something to do out of the norm. Apparently the first pasture ride of the season wasn't enough. Koda spotted their find first, and wanted to investigate. Brad had pulled a plastic white barrel out of the brush, that the wind had misplaced. By the time we got to them, Nemo was doing a good job of trying to roll it. Which is interesting, because he has never liked rolling exercise balls. I guess barrels are different.

Koda was all ears and wanted to try rolling it too. We quickly discovered the barrel was doing more spinning then rolling. Between the four of us, we managed to get the barrel rolled out to mid-pasture. We decided it was time to call it quits when Koda tried stepping on it...what was he thinking? He's a trick pony?? Wish I had packed my phone cam to capture this rollin' kinda fun! A good reminder, that it's not all about technique or goals, sometimes ya just gotta roll out the barrel!!

Koda rolling his own barrel


Midwest Horse Fair 2015 ~ 2 of 2

What I strive to infuse in my horsemanship is listed below via tips and progressions that I noted as fast as my (very slow) texting fingers could enter in my handy-dandy new horse fair app. Some of these things I already do, but could do much better, other things were completely new. Have you ever tried laying a horse down? There were approaches with different twists to age old problems, that made me think.

What you can't see with my notes is the impeccable timing and soft handling. It wasn't doing the obstacles that was so impressive, it was the handling. I've never seen horses so in-tuned with their humans, and I've been fortunate to watch some accomplished horsemen at fair. The clinics below are all Jim Anderson's, his demeanor is described in my first fair postFor all these reasons and more, we chose to focus on his clinics this year. I'm thankful for the experience he shared. I may not be riding through a cowboy curtain anytime soon, but anything and everything encountered with a horse is an obstacle. It's useful to learn ways to approach the otherwise unapproachable.

I blocked my clinic note section off, feel free to scroll past for the rest of my review.  


Going over Obstacles: 
• send horse over obstacle vs leading
• have forward over tarp, horses can scare if tarp pulls back
• look for horse to find obstacle
• it's key to spend more time resting on obstacles
• rest should equal working time
• if horse shows resistance, allow them to leave
• put them to work so the obstacle is the release

Working Progression: 1st using a lead rope, 2nd loose loop around neck, 3rd at liberty

A question was asked about how to handle a horse that rushes out of a trailer. Jim suggested trying bridge work before trailer loading, and allow them to leave the trailer. All of the above tips apply to trailer loading.

The beginning of this clinic reinforced the above, but was done under saddle.
• get horse to do lateral release & neck to drop
• horse should be leading with nose not ears, before working obstacles
• when the horse looks away/turns right, put them back to work left (opposite direction)

Desensitizing horses
Jim likes to use tarps, and added in another horse.
• Bunch tarp to make thin
• Start behind shoulder and progressively increase tarp width
• Gradually move up and past shoulder, paying attending to horses comfort
• Progress backwards if they show signs of concern

Going through a Cowboy Curtain
• remove middle strands and gradually add them back in
• he loped as an exercise (not a punishment) and then used the curtain as the release
• always give the horse the option to leave if getting bored
• doing the obstacles should be the horses idea
• try backing up & ask again before going back to exercise

Another question from the audience was asked if he was "directing" the horse to the obstacles for release. Yes, when he lopes he uses 2oz pressure on outside 1/2oz pressure on inside, from his knee down.

• get them to want to hold their feet
• if the horse is worried and wants to move their feet, stop and distract them by moving exercises and then restart where you left off

Working Progression: desensitize standing still, dragging rope in a circle, dragging straight, dallying, tossing

• rope out to side while standing still (side is from cinch out) progress to front of horse
• start dragging with nothing on rope in a circle
• straighten rope so it's following behind
• make sure rope touches butt, both directions
• if horse gets worried about rope while dragging, try going straight or stop and turn facing rope with slack to let them relax
• for dragging things, likes to start with a bunched tarp working closer with more increased active tarp
• if rope goes under tail, move hip to undo rope 
• dallying is next, used a gator & tracked it at back angle/corner. If the horse wants to leave, put it to work/exercise so he finds the gator is the reward
• to start swinging (roped a muck bucket in back of gator) stop gator after toss as reward

Ponying: look for release spot, give pressure when ponied horse is in wrong spot

Laying Horse Down:
• start with head & neck lateral
• sets neck down with pressure cue on top of head
• rope around foot then belly
• tap & lift foot, bend head lateral to ask for crouch and release
• let it be their idea to lay down
• upon rising, he asks for a sit and the horse to wait on us and trust, before getting up

Jim shared that he believes a handler should be able to lay a horse down. Because laying down is the most vulnerable position in the wild. Once achieved, confidence in handler goes through the roof.

• face the fence, side pass, side pass, release & reward
• get impulsion, both sides before loping
• make sure horse is with you, can't be behind you, drive horse up first
• use a fence at 90 degrees, because you can really tell if hinds & front match
• good for lope off, moves hips in a little at 45 degree
• horse should wait for cluck or kiss
• shoulders: look for the reach

Working Progression: walk, trot and lope

• starts head & neck to the inside first, watches for crossover
• head & hip pushed towards direction going (small circle)
• breakdown: hip, then head & neck, walk out and increase
• inside leg off once you have forward
• they should spin on there own

• need to have the back up solid
• pick hands up & add soft legs until they try a little harder/faster (fixes the stop)
• if they stop to one side, fixes by side passing to opposite side

• head up, do lateral neck work
• spin fixes the rollback
• build speed gradually so they stay with you, after consistent at slower speeds

Jim stressed that putting the horse to work is not punishment, they are exercises. There is an exercise to fix everything.

"Good horsemanship is when we relax, they relax" 


A fair review wouldn't be complete without mentioning shopping! 
There are a ton of vendors, and many are repeat. It's a shopaholics dream. Vendors come from all over the US. We get what we need on Friday, try to avoid "cattle herding" on Saturdays, and revisit on Sunday's. Pricing is not created equally, and neither is quality. But there are sooo many, many gems and rare finds. You just gotta look before you buy, but don't wait to long or - poof - it will be gone!!

Our take home goods:
Horseshoers Secret (year supply) for Nemo, fly spray, show sheen, new straw hat (for me!), new stirrups ordered (for Brad), bell boots for Koda, show fan hangers, stitched show halter for Cierra, and much to my hubby's demise and by far the most fun, I got to pick out Cierra's handmade show slinky (& matching tail bag)!!

I'm a sucker for anything metal, and struck a two-fer deal on Sunday - heehee! Doesn't hurt to ask, right?! think I've been watching a little too much American Pickers!?! I'm not a TV person, but that show draws me in. I scored a hanging hummingbird for our yard, and a horse bell for our new future place...because we will find a new place to bring our horses home, eventually...

Our not so goods: The person that was supposedly buying my saddle at fair didn't call, turns out my custom saddle wasn't ready early as hoped (I knew before fair) and the boot wraps we really needed to replace were overpriced everywhere, so we are ordering them online.

Midwest Horse Fair set an attendance record this year of 61,000 (23,000 Friday, 25,000 Saturday, 13,000 Sunday). The local economic impact is estimated at 8.5 million. I'm thrilled the horse industry is being fostered and get's to shine!! In our many travels to/from the truck I saw out of state attendee license plates from New York, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. No doubt there were many other states represented. It's a good time to visit Wisconsin, altho be forewarned our spring weather is a crap shoot!

Basking in the afterglow of all things fair finds us reminiscing about the friends we caught up with, the vendors we look forward to visiting with every year, the woulda shoulda coulda but didn't, the purchases we have/will be putting to good use, and the clinicians who left a lasting impression.