summer firsts ~ 3 of 3

Padame's first visit went so well that plans were made before she left for her home to haul her back to our place, right before her last show. This time, changes would include riding all together. Then leaving her to be ridden alone in the arena, before all heading out together for her first trail ride.

Mother Nature's thunder storms prevented us from trail riding, but other firsts were experienced with all three horses.

It occurred to us that we have never ridden our horses in our arena with the garage doors opened. Not intentional, doors are just usually closed by the time we ride to keep bugs & heat/cold out. Add to that, Brad parked the tractor at the far end of the open door facing the arena.

There are always tractors with arena rakes eagerly waiting to rake between classes. The tractor raised ears. 
All three horses took several good looks at the tractor, before realizing it wasn't a concern.

We have also never ridden in our arena when it was raining, or thundering for that matter. Or with other horses.

I haven't ridden with multiple horses anywhere, since we moved our horses home in 2018. Our horses haven't either. I was a little nervous at first (where does that come from?!) but Koda was a very good boy and the anxious feeling melted away as fast as it appeared.

Koda, Padame and Nemo in the distance

(16 seconds)

You may notice Koda chomping, he does that when bored etc

Our ride together was SO enjoyable!! At one point I looked over at Brad who was sitting still completely relaxed on Nemo, gazing at Koda and I. He had a huge genuine smile on his face, including his eyes. His whole face expressed pure happiness. One of those surreal moments, that words cannot describe. It made my heart swell.

We all took a break from riding and walked to the house between the raindrops for a late lunch. I had warm homemade quiches waiting for us. One crab, bacon, cheese with red pepper & leeks from our garden and the other was ham, bacon, broccoli, cheese & leek. YUM!! Served with sweet watermelon.

Padame was ridden a short time afterwards, before making the hour trip home. They plan to come back to our place to trail ride in the Fall. 


summer firsts ~ 2 of 3

Our original thought with our first trailer in visitor was that we would all enjoy riding together. Reminiscent of many past years at our trainers place. She trained Koda, Nemo and then Cierra. You may recall, Koda & Nemo lived their for years while they were between homes. Instead, this visit was all about Padame. She needed our help, and we were happy to provide exposure for Brad's girl.

The goal was to duplicate some concerns that became apparent at a couple shows. 
Brad and I (and my large stuffed Rudy reindeer) became spectators.

We appeared and reappeared. Up high, down low, at gates, together, apart, at doors, at entrances, in windows etc. It was exhausting lol! We brought chairs into the arena and pretended to be judges. Hats on, hats off.

Everything was about change.

Padame wanted to avoid the judges that plopped chairs in the arena during her first official schooling trail pattern. Many horses take issue with judges. I don't blame them. Judges are scary and having them suddenly sitting inside mid arena is weird.

We dragged our feet, opened doors, waved our arms and were noisy in general. We turned the music off and everything got quiet. Absolutely everyone who comes to our place mentions how quiet it is. Horses hear everything, and quiet itself is a distraction.

Brad also rode Padame. I haven't watched them ride for a long time. Thought he might look big on his reining bred girl, but he doesn't. In fact they look great together! Yes, I am biased.

(13 seconds)

(15 seconds)

I made sure to have my camera ready to fire up in the arena, with my fav action lens (70-200). These photos are more my style. I had no idea I was going to be asked to take conformation photos prior (link above). Hopefully I redeem myself lol. I haven't shot much in our arena. It was fun practicing angles, and seeking changing light ~ in action!!

extended trot

We all took a late lunch break. Brad grilled. Horsey conversation was enjoyed, over a yummy meal. Afterwards, Padame went back to the arena for round two for a much shorter ride. Typical for the show world. Ride, ride ride and then ride a little more. Padame did great. Our trainer was very thankful and felt Padame really learned a lot.

To be continued. "summer firsts ~ 3 of 3" Padame visits a second time.


summer firsts ~ 1 of 3

It has been a quiet Summer, filled with love, joy and all things nature. I have been spending less & less time on the computer and more & more time living in the moment.

Our horseback rides are still far & few between, but when we do ride it is wonderful! 

We rode 3X in July. I blogged about our first ride and second ride earlier in the month. Weather and life got in the way and we didn't trail ride again until the end of July. The bugs were bad, and we haven't ventured out on our ranch since. 

horse prints in the Enchanted Forest make me smile

We are experiencing the buggiest season since we moved here. No clue why. Perhaps because we have had a lot of off/on rain. All needed moisture and therefore welcome. I really don't mind rain in general, but I do mind relentless flying pests.

I never thought I would chose riding in an indoor arena, over riding outside in the summer. 


We have watched our grandkids more often this Summer. In the past, they have helped bring horses in and feed them etc. They were SUPER excited to ride our horses for the first time!! Sorry, I decided not to share photos of the kids online. Our grands are 7, 5 and 2. Brad trusts Cierra the most, so they all rode her. First with grandpa Brad sharing a saddle, and then alone in hand. They all loved it, especially the five year old who was grinning from ear to ear.

It was the first time Cierra had kids on her back. She did great! Harmony is the only horse with any kid experience, and probably not this young. I was worried watching the littles perched up so high. They are all very tiny humans for their age. I wasn't sure if the two year old would suddenly start bawling. She didn't and they all want to ride again. I said "maybe later" to riding the last time they were here overnight and asked. We planned on letting them ride Nemo the following day (the horse they requested) but the kids had birthday party plans and got picked up shortly after breakfast. 

I have buddy stirrups on order. Having balance support, will make this grandma worry a little less. Hopefully they arrive sooner than later. We will be caring for our grands again soon. It may not be me in the saddle, but it is still enjoyable horse time for all. 

Caring for our herd and sharing them, has been very special.


At the end of July we had our first visitor trailer in:

(distorted phone photo)

Recognize this girl? It's Padame! She needs exposure away from home, so she came here :)

I haven't seen her in person in well over a year. It hasn't worked out for me to attend her training shows this season. There is one show left. If I go, I may write a future post about her training show/s.

I was sure our herd would come thundering up from the lower pasture when the trailer pulled in, but they didn't. In fact they cared less, until we took Padame's Palomino registration photos in the yard. Then it was all eyes on the new girl.

Prior to that, Nemo was very interested in reconnecting with our trainer. He totally remembered her. It was so sweet to watch them nuzzling. Nemo turned into a big mushpot. One of the things I love about our trainer is how much she genuinely cares about animals. She loves them and treats them like they are her own. It was really nice to see her again.

Below are the registration photos that were chosen. Excuse the busy background. I was told it didn't matter. I truly dislike taking conformation photos, but hey ~ she got accepted. I learned Palomino people have ALOT of rules about color & conformation. 

You may notice Padame is still a smaller horse. She continues looking/growing a year behind her actual age. However she has a great mind, and that is what really matters.

To be continued. "summer firsts ~ 2 of 3" will have more photos & a couple short video clips of Padame's arena time.


so many skies

Last night, I sat upon my moms bench. Like I do most every day/night. A place of great reflection and appreciation of things I love.

the clouds caught my attention
(7:48 pm)

Clouds fascinate me.

I love watching them travel and morph. My favorite are the lofty powder puff kind.

The clouds are different north of the river. They are closer. I don't care what anybody says, I know what I see.

You can almost reach out and touch the clouds. Almost.

I frequently say, we are a little closer to heaven.

As the day settled into early evening, I knew I was in for a treat. 

(7:57 pm)

Don't blink. The sky is ever changing.

a slightly different photo than above
(7:57 pm)

There is a new song and artist on the radio that resonates with me. So Many Skies by Caroline Jones featuring Matthew Ramsey (Old Dominion lead singer) with Zac Brown playing some amazing guitar. SO much talent intertwined with a powerful lyric.

A love song, about destiny and appreciation.

If this is all too mushy for you, than perhaps you will enjoy the last few sunset clouds marching off to whereversville.

Don't see the curiosity?
(8:36 pm)

How about now?
(8:34 pm)

Fred Bear
(8:36 pm)

Before the end of the sunset, I went out on our deck for a wider view. Wow.

backlit clouds, facing south

My phone turned the powder puff clouds a fake orange. They were actually a brilliant glowing light yellowish white.

(8:35 pm)

I sat on our deck, and turned my thoughts back towards the West. Mesmerized by the evolving rays. Brad was watching TV inside the house, while I watched a spectacular show outside our house.

(7:58 pm)

(8:00 pm)

I wonder who was beamed up?
(8:01 pm)

(8:06 pm)

"God I'm so lucky I've seen so many skies. Turning all shades of sunset and sunrise..."


same but different

It would be nice to go on trail rides and see different scenery again. I think eventually we will get back to trailering to various parks and enjoying grand new experiences. Exploring is one of my favorite parts of trail riding! Of course if you've traveled to new trail locations, then you know not all new experiences are grand. 

Traveling takes a lot of time and planning.

I have the last version (2007?) of a WI equine trail hard copy book. I marked equine friendly parks I wanted us to ride. We rode some places and many others we have yet to explore. I never would have known about some of the fabulous trails we have ridden in the past without my book. Including the often featured Kickapoo Valley Reserve. My fav local-ish trails away from home. My book is very dated, but still a valuable resource. I wish they still published and updated a WI equine trail book.

In this digital search era, trail locations can be found scattered all over the internet. Yet unique places can be hard to find. Trail updates/conditions are even harder to come by. Facebook trail riding groups only help so much. Who wants to ride an over exposed trail system, with full parking and loud riders at every turn. Not me. I like the trails less traveled. The hidden gems.

This brings me full-circle back to riding our ranch. We don't have the gorgeous mountain views we cherished riding out West, but we do have privacy. 

There is a lot we have yet to experience and enjoy right outside our door.

Koda & Nemo

Our last plan was to repeat the exact ride we did last weekend, with a different horse combo. However, no ride is exactly the same. 

You have to ride the trail you come across today.

Similar to the horse saying that we are all familiar with, ride the horse you have today.


Brad chose to ride Nemo. He was such a good boy, especially since it has been a while. 

After a short outdoor arena warmup, we headed out across a couple smaller fields onto a larger field. One border is open, the other three are the road, neighbors back yard and the area I call "where the wild things are".

Sure enough we spotted a deer in the latter area, and stopped to watch it watch us. Meanwhile a car appeared out of the corner of my eye. Koda startled a bit at the sudden car, not sure about Nemo. They were out of my field of sight. Brad asked if I knew who the car/driver was, because they were waving like crazy. Turns out it was a good non-horsey friend of ours, who had the sense to not honk and just wave.

She tried to call me, I didn’t answer. Then sent me this text shortly after "aww you guys look so cute on your horsey ride". Somehow I doubt that, but I suppose it’s not a common sight. There are a fair amount of horses living in this general area. However, I rarely see people riding. 

We rode on and took a path through the woods by the butterfly garden.

Suddenly a large swarm of deer flies attacked both horses!! Creating panic.

Koda was shaking his head so ferociously his Fabio mane was standing on end at times. It flopped up over and all around. I tried to help swat them away and noticed Brad doing the same with Nemo. Not effective. We got the H.E.double toothpick outta there. Our ride was cut short.

It felt great to just ride back to the barn, and not be stuck on some trail dealing with the undesirable, and then have to trailer a long way home.

Every situation is a lesson in itself.

All is well that ends well.

Very thankful our horses had fly masks on. A person could have tried to outrun the deer flies, but that is not something I want to teach Koda.

Flight when things get a little rough is not a good idea IMO. Depends on the degree of danger. If we ever do take off running to escape something, it needs to be for an extreme reason and my idea/cue.

Our ranch trail rides will eventually become much like my dog walks. 

I am okay with same, but different.


starting july out right

We said no to watching a 4th of July parade from a friends house, going to a neighbors pool party and also decided to skip the big fireworks on the river.

No is a hard word to say, but I am learning.

All the above sounds fun, but our long holiday weekend plans were s
imple. We wanted to get a few more things done on our ranch, and spend time with our horses. Quiet and relaxing. 

We accomplished the latter, by doing this:

a hot hazy longer trail ride

After a short baking session warmup in the outdoor arena, we headed out for a ride. The plan was to ride the perimeter of our large field. The one that borders the road, and goes along the back of our closest neighbors house.

There was a steady warm breeze, bugs were not bad. 

Koda & Cierra were being so good and seemed interested in exploring the new views. We skipped the pine trails that need branch trimming, and continued riding around the next big field.

When we were within Nemo's sight, he began running, bucking and prancing around. Calling out to us from a distance.

It is never fun to ride near that level of ramped up energy. 

We kept our distance & rode through the lower wooded part of our property. 

enjoying shade in the enchanted forest

There are two choices to get back to the barn, turn around and re-ride the fields or ride along the pasture. The idea was to make a loop, so we headed towards the new southern path that borders the pasture. Out of Nemo's eyesight, or so we thought. We got to the middle of the pasture path, when I heard Brad say "uh oh". 

Nemo was galloping up the hill toward us. He had spotted Brad & Cierra.

Great. Nothing like being between a rock and a hard place. Or in this case, between a hot wire and trees. It was a little unsettling. Like every challenge you come upon on the trail, you have to make a decision and stick to it. I got as close to the trees as I could, and stopped. Until Nemo stopped.

Nemo was a long arm lengths away, when Koda started to pick up on his energy.

Koda was a good boy and chose to listen to me, as we picked up our walk. It helped that Nemo reeled his energy in, after we started talking to him. He walked along with us as far as the pasture allowed.

Harmony could have cared less. I am sure Nemo's separation concern will diminish the more we ride out, and next to the pastures. I found out after the ride, the wire was not hot.

Our focus quickly changed from Nemo to a big floppy branch that made it impossible to ride though. Brad dismounted and held the branch back so we could all get through.

Brad & Cierra

This gave Koda a chance to lead us down a wooded path, back to the barn.

We ended our trail ride sweaty and happy. 

We are starting July out right. 


seeing yellow

With photography, it is always a good idea to turn around. How do you know if the view is more interesting if you don't look? Sunsets are a good example. Try it some time during a colorful one, and you will see for yourself. Many times an eastern sky is just as stunning as the west, or more so. I call it "surround sound color".

Our skies have been rather blase' lately, but I got a colorful surprise when I turned around and walked our paths in reverse yesterday. I approached an area I call "cactus cove" and what do my wandering eyes see? They were seeing yellow!! A lot of yellow. How on earth did I miss this:

cacti buds close up tight overnight

Is it possible walking in reverse made that big of a difference? Maybe I am looking, but not really seeing.

wider view of cactus cove

Brad mentioned he saw some cactus blooms last week in another area, and forgot to mention it. We enjoying seeing their bright yellow for 2-3 weeks, depending on the weather. Looks like a favorable year for our native cacti. 

so many buds on one plant!

See the Japanese Beetle above? They showed up this week and are also on my sunflowers, calla lilies, and day lilies. I am back to constant bug drowning patrol, ugh!!! I see them flying around my veggie garden too. Boo hoo!

28 seconds of one of many cacti patches

the buds fascinate me

technically they are called "areoles" 

my best effort at a closeup, while swatting mosquitos


going with the flow

Summer is slipping by at a rapid pace.

Our weather is not normal this season. Hay continues growing and going to seed quickly. Area corn is growing higher than I've ever seen it. The bugs are 
pesky and take the fun out of everything. Big flies, little flies, gnats, mosquitos ~ we have them all. In quantity. I think this is the worst bug year to date. We also have had a lot of strong wind, from all directions. Wind cools us off and gives us bug relief, yet rapidly dries up the land. Everything takes a beating.

You gotta go with the flow.

I purchase a head net in a feeble effort to enjoy (?) walking the dogs during bug season. It isn't as fun when you can't stop to look at anything in the woods. You have to walk on fast forward, or get eaten alive.

Blogger Val wears a head net when needed, so do other outdoorsy friends. They are inexpensive and easy to carry along. I can't say I love mine, but I can say I have been able to keep walking the dogs daily. I look like an idiot, good thing dogs don't care. They are just happy to stretch their legs and sniff.

my net

Last week was all about finishing hay, so we didn't ride. If you ever wonder why hay costs so much, there are an incredible amount of days, steps and hours that go into making bales. All weather dependent.

fluffy hay

We had a bumper first crop of hay. Brad mentioned one of our small fields max yield to date was 6 large square bales. This cutting we got 17.

equipment malfunction makes everything take longer

78 bales gone, all gone!!

Very productive for our small property.

(93 bales if you count a couple small fields we rent)

This week we tried riding in the outdoor arena, but it was too buggy. Even with the wind. Under the fans we went. I never thought I would appreciate riding inside during warmer months, but I love it!! So grateful for our big sandbox, we wouldn't be riding otherwise. 

We've ridden 8 times this month (yes, I am counting) and only two rides were completely outside. We tried many other days. Far from the amount of riding we would like to do, but better than recent years.

Ma! A little help here

When you rub your fly mask off somewhere in the pasture, you temporarily get to wear old pieced together stuff. Like ears cut off torn fly masks. I fixed a different mask and saved Koda until his good one was found.

I will look forward to trail riding in Fall. Sooner if the bugs slow down. However, trees on our existing trails still need to be trimmed before that can happen at horse height. Never a lack of things to do.

We continue making progress shaping our land this year. Mostly Brad. He finished moving the south pasture fence!! We will be able to walk/ride a loop that includes the south side of our property now. I tried it out with the dogs this morning.

upper half

horses were so surprised

lower half

Our area usually gets fog in early Spring or later in August. It is still June, at least for today. 

yesterday morning, after some fog cleared

We look forward to a quiet longer holiday weekend.

With whatever summer weather.


shades of brown

Horse people see more than shades of brown. They see shades of Bay, Sorrel/Chestnut and Smokey Black.

I'll just rest while I wait my turn

 and scratch my itchy neck

I see you taking photos of us

team work

It is good to have friends, in any shade.