web of wonder

Nature's wonder has eluded me this warm season, unless we are talking storms. The steady dose of volatile June weather we've been enjoying (?) has kept me out of our woods for the most part. I have barely used my camera. Bringing horse in/out and vegetable gardening are done in rushed swatting spurts. 

Summer is officially my least favorite season.

Consequently, more time is spent indoors appreciating cooler air. With too much time to ponder. What is my purpose? Damned if I know. 

I try not to spend too much time in my head. Letting thoughts circles, and circle AND circle.

Thank goodness there are breaks between storms. One was just long enough to enjoy a family reunion on my Mother-in-Law's side, at a park. After 18-ish years, everyone is noticeably aging. 

A few bike rides along the river have been enjoyed. Moving faster than the speed of mosquito helps avoid the blood suckers.

Dogs walks are infrequent and very short. Our older Lab is black, a flying pest magnet. I spotted a web glistening in morning light. It inspired me to make a second trip (via putt-putt) and dust off my dormant camera. 


I also made a quick stop at my Butterfly Garden. Glad it is being enjoyed.

closed wing Viceroy (those spots!)

open wing Viceroy

Our weather isn't all bad, but it sure makes a person wonder.


peaceful pastures

Hello Blogger friends! Long time no type. I hope you are all enjoying your respective Springin' into Summer. It has been quiet here at Hidden Cactus Ranch.

In April, w
e took a chance and introduced Koda and Hope without barriers. The first indoor meeting was so non-eventful they have been turned out together with Harmony ever since.


Instant love, even with a mouth full of hair
(21 secs)

Hope says "I am a big girl now!"

We are thankful to not be doing half day turn-outs. Swapping one boy out for the other is a thing of the past. Someone was always in the barn alone. Letting us know they were less than happy, although both boys were good sports in general. It wasn't fun for us either. Cleaning stalls dragged on all day and it is hard to go most anywhere.

Nemo and Koda are still not pastured together and at this point never will be. I still find it very odd after being inseparable for so many years. They are stalled next to each other, but we plan to move one of them.

Cierra continues to be possessive with Hope, so she is Nemo's pasture mate. Our horses really all want to be together. At times they operate as a herd, even with a fence between them. 

Harmony, Hope and Koda are very happy sharing a pasture. Their herd interactions are funny to watch. They do most everything together and seem to have zero issues. I couldn't tell you who rules, but I can tell you who is the fastest. Hope by a landslide. She outruns everyone. That girl is fast! She also continues being sweet and level-headed. Hope seems to have calmed Koda down. Significantly.

Peaceful pastures are pure bliss. So are rainbows.

view of our barn from the house deck

wide angle

(my old phone didn't pick the second one up very well)

Be well, until next time.


Midwest Horse Fair ~ 2 of 2

If you missed it, here is the link for the first half of Midwest Horse Fair.


This PRCA event was our first time attending a rodeo this decade. Two nights of rodeo at MWHF always sell out. We either get tickets early, or simply don't go. This also applies to attending music events. At this stage of my life, nose bleed seats just don't appeal to me. 

The rodeo at fair was something else this year. Freshest calves we have ever witnessed! They literally were like jumping beans. Non-stop bouncing off the ground. I wonder what they fed them to make them strong, big and fast. With a dose of crazy. One calf repeatedly tried to kick a cowboys face off. Some ended up running towards the Tie Down horses, instead of away. Expressions were priceless. The cowboys wrassled, got tangled up, fell backwards, tucked-n-rolled and tried their very best. In the end, the four legged animals won most of the time.

I tried to get a few key photos from my seat. We were sitting behind/next to part of a drill team that performed at the Friday Night rodeo. I learned a few things. Fun chatting with the spicy one sitting next to me, when she wasn't going in/out of our aisle 50X (insert eye roll).

Onto the photos! 

10 horse all gelding Belgian pyramid hitch

I not so secretly want to drive a single or pair of drafts. The lead Belgian was so proud and confident!

The Fox Hound group was fun to watch again. The red jacket rider is a distinguished experienced lead. This lady has led for decades.

calling in the hounds (with a whistle) 

The well-known award winning rodeo clown John Harrison and announcer Kelly Kenney were entertaining as always.

double trouble

Harrison's rodeo act with his horse Peanut was just as cute as the first time I saw it.

the horse was playing dead

trying to get his horse to stand up

I only took a couple shots of the cowboys, mostly because of our seating situation. We were plenty close to the arena, but most of the shoots/my shots were blocked. Totally okay. Rodeo shooting is just for fun.

I thoroughly enjoy watching the fearless talented pick up riders and mounts. They are life savers.

sadly this bull rider got hurt (stomped on)

I am a big fan of the acts. The endless hours these folks must put in to showcase their talents.

Liberty Cunningham

This young roman rider is only 13 years old. I cannot imagine the confidence it takes to trick ride in a sold out arena. At any age.

The main entertainment act was a highly award winning Roper & Trick Riding husband wife team (Rider & Bethany Kiesner). I had the most camera fun trying to catch this acts non-stop action.

Some entertainers use spotlights, which is ideal for photos. Otherwise rodeo shots have very busy backgrounds. Here is just a small fraction of the duo's snappin-n-jumping-riding act:

closing out with the stars of the rodeo, horses


Well, that's a wrap. I hope your eyeballs didn't fall out. In conclusion, I really enjoyed attending fair again this year. I will go as long as I am able. There is something to be said for hanging around like minded people and watching the incredible talent presented. Not to mention the gorgeous equine!!


Midwest Horse Fair ~ 1 of 2

Another year, another horse fair. This year we attended two out of three (part) days. It was too nice outside the last day (a Sunday) to be stuck inside watching other people accomplish things. Have to admit, it was a tough decision. We would have really enjoyed watching Sunday's Top Hand Finals.


Midwest Horse Fair (MWHF) was once again mobbed on Friday. Crazy mobbed! Where do all these people flock from?! Parking required copious amounts of patience, even for those of us locals well schooled in all things MWHF.

Friday is known for being "horse people" day. It has always been our get it before it's gone shopping day. We walk the entire mega center's double sided aisles before purchasing. Reminds me of herding cows...moooo-ve! You can't, unless others move first. This is our shopping MO unless an item is unique. Like the hat below. It was the last one. Such a happy find!

Hidden Cactus Ranch apparel

I've been looking for a baseball cap that A) fits my big square-ish head and B) isn't promoting some random business (aka free hats) usually related to construction. My hat is a bit lot more distressed than I would like, but the novelty cap fits perfectly ~and~ was made custom onsite to us!! Yipee! Proof, it is the little things in life. The back mesh is soft and form fitting. Did I mention it fits my noggin perfectly?!! You have no idea how rare this is for me. I've already got a different style hat (that also fits great) picked out to personalize and order. It was out of stock. This gives me incentive to finish our looong overdue ranch logo. It could happen.

I am happy to have made a great connection (Whispering Pines, their website isn't up yet) for personalizing human and horse stuff!! Making in-person connections is one favorite thing about fair. We also found a local person from our former home town who cleans and repairs horse blankets etc and a couple stall shavings contacts to consider. We are looking for better solutions. 

Of course we did more than shop. We watched a bit of stallion review. Below was one of the handsome young guys. I love feathers!! In my dreams. I bet this boy takes long baths and ton of grooming.

Gorgeous Gypsy Vanner "The Postman"

A talented black Andalusian stud was fun to watch, especially while 
dancing. Here is a short clip of his stallion review:

RA Maximo (1.19 mins)

We also watched part of an Ray Ainsworth "Communicating Better With Your Horse" clinic. It was pretty good. He talked about "Changing the attitude before you change the behavior" while working with some Mustangs in hand. It included trailer loading introduction. At one point Ray made a loud crazy ass amplified non-stop noise, while backing the inattentive horse alllll the way across the arena. It seemed a bit extreme, but it did work. It resulted in the horse being very tuned into him. Even when he asked the crowd to clap.

We skipped walking up and down the barn aisles to see the different breeds. We have EHV floating around our county, and surrounding ones. Better safe than sorry.

Saturday was a cold day and fair was not nearly as busy. It worked in our favor. We got another great parking spot, without requiring patience.

I picked out a new saddle pad for riding Nemo in my saddle. His hair is something else. Very VERY fine. He requires his own stuff. Cierra/Koda/Harmony can share brushes etc. Jury is out on Hope. I think she will also require her own tack and brushes. 

More scenes from fair:

Fox Hound presentation (11 secs)

We tried to watch another one of Ray's clinics on Saturday. It was hard to hear and even see what he was doing. There were other announcers in the pavillion along with a non-stop screaming toddler in the stroller next to Brad. Making it impossible to enjoy. Our whole seating section was less than happy. Needless to say we didn't stick around long.

Later on, a Mounted Shooting presenter caught our eye. She was entertaining and easy to hear/see. Sometimes unplanned clinics are the best. Staying at the Von Holten's 100 year old ranch would be so much fun!! Below is a clip of Brandy Van Holten shooting off her mule JoJo. Of course seeing a mule made me think of Blogger Val :) 

Mounted Shooting (19 secs)

I lugged my mid-range lens to the Saturday night PRCA rodeo. I'm planning to share some pics and observations on MWHF post 2 of 2. Don't hold your breath ;) Trying to cram all things fair into one long post just didn't work.

Also swirling around my head are looong overdue horse updates. I
t is a busy time of year and the outdoors are calling my name. I've read some of your wonderful blog updates. Be well and continue enjoying your Spring-y lives!! 


Padame's turn

Here I am, typing from the Equine Hospital. Waiting to find out what is going on with Padame. She has been experiencing on again/off again lameness. Most recently at her second show of the season, in Minnesota. Padame came up lame the night before we were heading up to watch. She did not show.

We were here for Koda's lameness MRI, less than a year ago. Now it's Padame's turn. The hospital folks are very nice, but I reeeally do not want to become a regular!! Cost aside it is hard on the horses, and us. It takes an entire day. 

The MRI will reveal key information, including the possibility there are no injuries. Lameness yo-yo-ing is anybodies best guess otherwise. Obviously I hope there is nothing "wrong" with Padame. An MRI may seem extreme, but we know others in the show circuit who have spent years patching the unknown. In the end, it is more cost and more so a frustrating loss of time. Something you can't get back. We hope to target the care Padame needs and keep her sound.

wondering where she is

Padame is so dark & shiny

Our daughter (Harmony's mom) took a half day off work to cover animal care at home for us. 

We tried to distract ourselves on this beautiful 72+F sunny day. After lunch we walked the boardwalk and enjoyed lake views. Frequently checking the time.

Now we sit. We read. We pace. We check. It is hard not to worry as closing time approaches and Padame is still not back in her temporary stall. Similar to what we experienced with Koda.

She was finally returned to her stall! We met with the MRI vet, and at first glance nothing appeared to be wrong. Good news. After the MRI scans get reviewed by a specialist, the MRI vet and our vet will discuss findings and come up with a plan of action.

another loop and attempt at loading

Padame was less than willing to load up in our trailer. She has ridden in it before, but is used to a large slant load and having company. Poor girl. We all made it home without incident. I bet Padame slept good last night.


return to winter

Wisconsin decided to return to Winter, so I did too. Sharing photos from earlier this snow season. As always, click to enlarge and see detail.

January 2024

Our recent weather event lasted 2.5 days. By this afternoon we were already melting-n-soaking up the much needed moisture. Sunnier days are coming!

Hope wants everyone to know she really dislikes being wet. Dontchaknow, water drops tickle. She would really like it if we let her rub herself dry on us. She might enjoy being towel dried. Or even blow dried. With a hair drier. It was required during my lesson years at the place Harmony came from. Way back in the day. You got in trouble if you put your horse away wet. Those were some late nights! Wishing Winter coats would hurry up and dry.

We haven't given Hope a bath, yet. We aren't big on baths, but if you are going to be a show horse bath days are guaranteed. Mother Nature has done a good job with "feeling wet" training!

Hope at 9 months


more than photos

We do more with Hope than take photos of her. Throughout the months, we have continued working on daily handling and desensitizing. For various reasons, in various ways. Safety is at the top of our list. For her, for us and for those who help with her care. 

We felt Hope needed some fine tuning on putting her rear legs down nicer etc. Our Farrier recently had back surgery. We want all our horses to be really easy for him to trim. Not just pretty good. Because we asked, he suggested using a rope to lift and desensitize her legs further. Not just our hands. He mentioned we are probably lifting/picking her legs the same way every time, and he does it different. Good point. Leg placement/adjustment is also part of showing conformation. Everything should be done with ease.

We never did end up using the rope lifting suggestion. We do (still) make sure to change up how and where we lift her feet. Ropes of course are wonderful and useful for a lot of different training. Hope doesn't seem to take issue with wiggly ropes. In fact she likes some ropes a little too much. As with most youngsters, she frequently tries to put lead ropes in her mouth. This is something we continue working on. 

Our vet was out for Spring shots and said "she is still looking fancy". He 
was really impressed with Hope, more so with how she acted. In preparation for shots, Brad worked on desensitizing. He started using prickly brushes and progressed to poking her with a small screw driver that was sharp, but not too sharp. It worked! She didn't even move when the vet did a blood draw. Hope taped at 574 lbs.


If interested, here are some clips of Hope learning (day one):

moving hip away from pressure
2/13/24 (11 secs)

other direction (11 secs)

rope desensitizing (6 secs)

start to lunging (22 secs)

My skilled hubby recently whipped up a bridge. A good first step to upcoming trailer training. The very next day a swinging gate appeared in our arena. It will be useful for his show practice. They no longer allow rope gates in Ranch classes. 

I watched him walk Hope through the gate the first time with little to no resistance. She briefly paused, then walked through both directions. I don't have any visuals. I think I was holding my breath in anticipation of what might happen. I told Brad that Hope is going to make him look like a world class trainer lol. He is doing a really good job with little Miss Hope!

new arena obstacles

second evening session
3/25/24 (20 secs)

other direction (17 secs)

All the training continues. Including morning walk-a-bouts. Walking off bridge, paying attention, standing still, me leading etc. The following day Hope met the dreaded tarp. I walked into the arena in the morning to find Tank helping out. Apparently, this was a big improvement over her first reaction 
(backing up) to the tarp.

3/26/24 am

On the other hand, Brad's cat Purr was not as helpful. She decided to play with the tarp, diving under it etc. Great for unexpected trail training, but it was a little too much to start off with lol.

3/26/24 pm

I kicked the animals out of the arena and helped. We ended the first day with Hope putting her two front feet on the tarp, standing still. She willingly walks across the tarp for both of us now, and stands on it. I can tell she is not 100% sure about the weird slippery crunchy randomly lit thing that moves.

We can't leave the tarp out, because my other horse likes to pick it up and shake it all over. Hence the white patch of tape. Some peoples horses never grow up. Sigh. I wonder what Hope would think about Koda and a flying tarp. We will leave that lesson for another day.


springy thoughts

Spring is such an interesting time in the world of nature. In more ways than one. We never really know what weather will show up. It seems most of us are getting a mixed bag. In our respective corners of the world. 

We had spotty snow for a couple days. A bit of on again/off again snowflakes. I enjoy snow more during Winter months. Rainy weather is the name of this weeks weather game. Making it harder to enjoy the woods with four legged friends. Nothing a towels can't mend. So far we've been walking between the raindrops. 

3 amigos wanting to sniff around the woods

Grand dogs Jameson, Remi, and our guy who always has a full Tank of 

sharing a good smell

a common start to our walks (8 secs)

tic, tac, toe, three dogs in a row

same trail as above, a couple days later

Tank was pouting and had to catch up lol.

Tank has large stick challenges (10 secs)

 and small pieces of prized wood, that are never eaten

(Tank places, stares and dares to move

On the plant frontier, my garlic has been up for weeks. I am growing four varieties this year! From cloves shared and traded among friends. Raised bed gardening was a game changer.

the promise of flower seedlings

It won't be long and I will also start veggie seeds indoors. Some seeds saved from last years prized plants, others purchased. We like to try growing a new thing or two each year. This year we are trying to grow potatoes again. They will do better in our sandy soil, than they did in our clay. They will be grown in the ground.

hanging on

Nature offers so many things to ponder. Messages? Like the leaf above. It landed in a pine tree and even the strongest winds have not knocked it down. After passing it day after day, I stopped to snap a photo and think about it. Haa ha! My 4 year old granddaughter (a 5th generation Aurora!!) current favorite saying is "let me think about it". She is wise beyond her years.


My old metal wire frog used to sit on a large rock, watching over our pond. Now he sits on a stump all year and watches over my mom's memorial area. It might get a water feature. Someday. 

Remembrance Crocus in the photo foreground are starting to bloom. Although closed up that day, due to cooler weather. Brown ground will give way to green. My moms crabapple tree will blossom. The trio of lit Winter trees that flank her bench will go into storage, and be replaced with planters. Plants I started from seed will flourish in them, and be butterfly approved.

The promise of Spring.