keeping up with the plan

It has been almost two weeks since we began using our new outdoor arena, and we are loving it!!! Brad & I are spending more time around the barn, and more importantly with our horses. 

On our second arena day, Nemo got worked. Lunging, listening and switching gaits. Similar to Koda, who headed to the arena after Nemo's debut. 


Tank and our cat Leo (who thinks he is a dog)
at the new hangout

Tank has a habit of curling one paw

Leo is such a sweet guy

Nemo did good, a little lookie with excess energy at times. 

traveling Nemo

circling Koda

Koda is getting worked more often, for several reasons. He needs exercise, and more reminding. So he doesn't behave like this:

Koda can be more challenging. Most of the time he is easy going:

Last week we got another wave of high humid temps, and switched arena work to early mornings. It was a lot cooler with less bugs. Brad is a morning person, worked great for him. Me not so much with my morning fog, good thing I was only assisting.

We had a great weekend getting more things done in the barn, and with the horses. Imagine my surprise when I brought Koda out to the arena, and saw Brad already riding Nemo on his third time out! He was a rock star, and Brad did okay too lol. It won't be long before Koda also gets ridden.

It also makes my heart happy to see Cierra & Brad enjoying peaceful riding time. He has worked sooo hard for all of us to be together, and they are having great rides. It is wonderful having her home!!

We have yet to take Harmony to the arena. Waiting to see if her girl is going to come out and work with her, otherwise we will. Harmony really wants to see where everyone is going, and continues calling out when others disappear. Especially Nemo. 

Harmony and Nemo
(August 25)


start at the very beginning

Where do you (re) start a horse that hasn't been worked in over two years? Well, you start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. When you read you begin with a-b-c. When you sing you begin with do-re-mi...oh, sorry. I am suppose to be blogging, not singing.

Now that our outdoor arena is done, we can begin the long road of getting back to where we left off. With hopes of going beyond, and living the dream of peacefully riding on our very own land. I wonder what that feels like?? Not having to haul anywhere, or deal with drama. The feeling of riding together with my horse, without fear. Is that even possible?!! That is one tall order for this girl. Time will tell.

Altho I have the knowledge and ability to restart Koda, and have several times (with much less time off) I asked Brad to work with him first. Koda is a tester, always has been and always will be. I don't need my nerves shattered and my shoulder injured to the point of needing surgery. Brad is much better with horses than I am, and more than willing to get all our horses going again.

For now, I am a spectator and assistant. Who tries, but sometimes fails at keeping comments to themselves. Either Koda is not used to Brad's lunging (which he isn't) has selective hearing, or slipped waaay back. I know every thing Koda learned and knows is in there somewhere, and will come back.

Between the heat, bugs and every other distraction of life it took a while for us to get working with our horses. We started using the arena August 17:

Koda was the first horse in the new outdoor

(Tank is not that lanky shape, my phone distorted the pic)

walking the perimeter in-hand

Koda did okay. He kept balking at something. I think a reflection shining off some metal junk our neighbors to the south have stacked near the property line. He wasn't listening very well when Brad lunged him, and would randomly bust out. Koda certainly wasn't horrible, but needs works. Consistently.

We can hear the horses calling from the pasture (most likely Mr. Nemo) but can't see them. This will be a change from their usual routine for sure. It is so good for them! 

Cierra was up next.
Brad just hopped on her, and away they went.

So hot, humid, dry and dusty.

It made me so happy to see him riding Cierra, at home! Below are a couple short video clips of their first ride, at home!! Yep, I said it twice, and I will say it again - at home!!!

Brads current plan is to work two horses a couple times a week before/after work, and once or twice on the weekend. We are still in the midst of multi large projects, with yucky summer weather - but off to a great start!! 


the making of an outdoor arena

Our outdoor arena came together by first choosing a location, arena style and size. The logical most level spot was one field strip over from the barn, keeping hay field impact and proximity to the barn in mind. It is a short walk to get to the outdoor arena, across a small wooded strip. We settled on a rustic looking brown wooden post arena, called Ponderosa Fence. The posts have rounded tops for safety & water shed. Our arena is 100' x 200' with rounded corners, and 4 brown steel metal side railings. There are two gates, with easy open top latches. A four foot (Brad wanted 6', but they don't make them for this fencing) and a larger sixteen foot gate on the far end for machinery.

Brad built our arena 97% himself, by choice. I offered to help, so did our son, daughter and even our neighbor. He wanted to work on his own, and I get it. It is a one time build, as in we have never and plan to never build another one. Unless you count snapping together panels. Sometimes it is just easier to do things yourself. 

With decisions made, Brad measured and then worked with a co-worker to draw out an initial arena plan. He mowed our arena-to-be, over and over. It stayed a mowed grassy area for what seemed like forever, while we waited for supplies to arrive. Brad just kept a-mowing it. 

Our outdoor arena took a little longer than expected. It was manufactured by Priefert in Texas, and as you know the pandemic has slowed everything down. It was a happy day at our place when it finally arrived! 

sooo many pieces!

The manufacturer made some minor adjustments to our preliminary plan, and sent us final building plans and eventually materials. That is when the fun started! Our neighbor/co-worker plotted out the arena using a fancy schmancy gizmo, and his son helped pound in stakes.

The base "brains" figures & sends exact coordinate signals

Checking coordinates

I was fascinated by the orange prism (above) that receives a laser beam from the base unit.

our mowed arena being surveyed
(neighbors barn in distance)

Pounding stake, after stake

Now it was time for the hard(er) work to start!! Brad worked on the arena every chance he could, through a very hot humid August July. 

end posts went in first

Brad drilled post holes with a bobcat attachment

The wooden posts came pre-drilled

double checking height

securing posts with dry bagged concrete

Tank supervising as Brad fills water buckets

watering the posts, so they don't grow anywhere

One finished pole, and many to go (56 total posts) 

drilling away

making progress

Gates are up, getting closer

Tank and I helped pick up

One good thing about living in sand country, we didn't have to haul any sand in. We had the arena rototilled, and whala our outdoor arena was completed and ready to use early August!!


Cierra's homecoming - part 2 of 2

After the girls got re-introduced, Nemo was turned out. It was so uneventful I literally only took one photo.

Nemo & Cierra

It wasn't long before it was Koda's turn to join the herd, he ran to Cierra.

Cierra & Koda

That's when the herd dynamics ramped up. No captions. The ears and action within a minutes time, tell the story.

The chase broke up by the time they reached the top of the dry lot. Nemo & Harmony went out to the pasture by Brad. Cierra & Koda went into the shed to intensely groom each other. I couldn't see them, but I could sure hear them! Apparently they wanted some privacy lol. 

For many days, Koda & Cierra groomed and groomed each other.
Eventually it slowed to a more normal amount. (iphone pic from second day)

I had forgotten how much Cierra & Koda love each other. 

When our boys lived at the trainers, they would enjoy full day daily turnout in various pastures. By request, Cierra would join Nemo & Koda after she was ridden and on days off. Sometimes a fourth horse would join our herd. However, since the boys came home Cierra has been turned out on "show horse rotation" alone in one of two smaller side-by-side pastures. There are always horses nearby, but I am guessing Cierra hasn't actually touched another horse for over two years.

deer came out of the woods to see the excitement in the upper pasture

The rest of the reunion was quiet, with an occasional squeal from Cierra. 

Koda, Nemo, Harmony and Cierra

Nemo spent a few days trying to keep Harmony away from Cierra & Koda, but then dynamics changed. Harmony was welcomed, and Cierra - well she ended up with several bite marks. They were surface scratches, until the day she got bit a second time on the same spot. It took layers of skin off. It is healing nicely, hoping it won't scar.  We don't know for sure, but guessing the bites were from Nemo.

There was one day Nemo was chasing Cierra relentlessly, it landed him in his stall. I don't think she was listening to him. The other two move wherever Nemo wants them. I am happy to say after three weeks, it appears things have completely settled and our little herd has re-bonded.


Cierra's homecoming - part 1 of 2

I tried not to be nervous and let my mind run wild with what-if's, really I did. I blogged about my anticipation of Cierra coming home. Writing things down always helps me process, plus I want to remember. All of it. There were a few key times when the emotions of finally being able to have our four horses together again bubbled up. If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know why. For the most part, I found myself filled with awe and appreciation. In a nut shell, Cierra's integration went smooth and easy-peasy. In photos, it went like this:

Who is THAT??!!
  (you can see the hot humid haze, taken with iphone)

Cierra entering her new home for the first time.
She has front shipping boots on. (iphone)

Harmony, Nemo and Koda stayed in the pasture for a few hours after Cierra arrived. There was a bit of calling back-n-forth. To me it sounded something like "haaay, it's me Cierra" followed by response from the pasture "where have you been, we've missed you". Of course, who knows what the horses were actually relaying to each other. 

We brought the pastured horses in a little early so Cierra would have company. She is stalled next to Nemo. She squealed & knocked the panels once, but otherwise it was non-eventful. I think it was helpful these two had all night to reconnect before group turnout.

Cierra & Nemo (iphone)

Cierra's room has a view (iphone)

In the morning, I was on our deck ready to capture the horses reunion. It was a very hot humid day. I was surprised the order Brad had the horses meet. First he turned Harmony out, then took Cierra in hand and walked around the pasture...

Cierra & Brad

Harmony notices she has company

Cierra is such a good girl to not react

Harmony "got big" & ran circles around them
I was beginning to wonder about Brad's choices

Cierra listened to Brad the entire time

Brad & Cierra calmly walked, with Harmony loose

Harmony following waaay too close

She ran allll over the place

Harmony finally calmed down, and joined Brad & Cierra

Cierra & Harmony meet with supervision

Brad released Cierra, and walked away

My favorite moment (photo above) of our horse reunion made my eyes water. The photo will most likely hang on our wall. Not because it is a stellar photo, but because of what it signifies. 

Harmony ran to the gate when she heard Brad bringing Nemo out

Cierra also came running

Part two of Cierra's homecoming (where she meets the boys) will be posted soon!