Halfway There

Novels for Horse-Lovers

The Tipped Z Ranch books feature fictional stories but real horsemanship.

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The year is half over, which is hard to believe for all sorts of reasons. So far we’re on track for our 150 hours in the saddle goal. As of the end of the day today, I’m at exactly 75 hours.

A couple years ago I started keeping track of my time spent riding. I wish I’d started doing this a long time ago, because it is so interesting to see how much time I’m really putting in. I use a time-tracking app to log my time and it can generate some reports. Here’s what my first six months of riding looked like in 2011:


And here’s 2012 so far:


So my rides have been both more frequent and longer, which is good to see.

This week the boys got an extended vacation. It has been hot and work has been crazy, so we didn’t go to the barn all week.


We woke up to rain. We waited for the storm to pass, then managed a quick ride on the strip before the heat got unbearable. It was super humid, though, and there was almost no wind. The bugs were driving the horses crazy.

I rode Steen, and things were ok. He was in a weird mood. It was like he was sluggish on the surface with a whole lot of nervous energy just underneath. He would ignore my light asks for things, then when I came in harder he’d turn inside out and over-react.

This shot is actually from last weekend…

After working on a number of things without making much progress, I reverted to trotting figure eights. Steen would go great through 75% of each circle, but each time we came into the straightaway before switching directions, he’d starting pouring on speed and getting heavy on his forehand. We worked on it for a few minutes with no improvement, at which point I felt like I had to keep at it until we got a decent figure-eight.

It took ten solid minutes before we made it through a figure-eight at a consistent speed without him getting chargey on me. We were both drenched with sweat by the time we stopped. By then we’d been on 45 minutes and Laredo and Brian were wiped out as well. We hopped off and called it a day.

Ride Time: 0:45


We were at the barn by 9:00, and a cloud bank rolled in right when we got the horses tied and started tacking. There was a stiff, cool breeze and it felt glorious.

I rode Laredo and things went pretty well. He’s starting to gain some confidence, and he’s actually steering off the legs quite well most of the time. He’s still inclined to drag his head, particularly when he gets discouraged or tired, but it’s becoming less frequent and when he does do it, it’s not affecting his forward momentum like it was.

I spent the ride trying to stay off his mouth. We worked on walking straight lines and circles. There were some other boarders out riding around the fields, and sometimes they’d pop into view in the distance. Laredo always wanted to stand and stare at them with this happened. We’ve been working on constructive ways to get his attention back when he focuses on other things. He’s getting very good at disengaging the hindquarters, and usually asking him for a couple steps under was enough to get his mind back on me.

We measured Laredo after he got his feet trimmed last Sunday, and he’s grown almost an inch in the two months we’ve had him. He’s also put on a fair bit of length, fat and muscle. He still feels downhill to me right when I climb on, but not quite as much as he used to. I do think the heat and all his growing combine to make him tire easily. By the end of our ride today, he was seeming pretty worn out, even though all we did was walk.

However, he’s more and more inclined to engage on the ground. As soon as I hopped off his back to take some photos of Brian, he was sniffing at my hair and trying to mess with the camera. When I went to back him off a few steps, he grabbed my mecate in his lips.

It surprises me when he does things that are so clearly playful and juvenile. I still can’t quite believe how different Laredo is from the hypothetical 3/yr old that existed in my head when we were horse shopping. He’s pretty fun to hang out with.

Ride Time: 0:55
Horseback hours YTD: 75:00

Woh! Hey, look at you reading this entire post!

That's a bit of an accomplishment in our attention-deficient age. Kinda makes me wonder if you like to read things that are even longer than blog posts? Like ... books?

If so, you're definitely our kind of person. Which means you might enjoy a horse-centic read? Click here to read a free sample of, A Man Who Rides: a novel about horsemanship and love.

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Our trails committee started the Trail Time programs several years ago. I also belong to the AQHA ride program. So have been logging my hours for years. After I started using a GPS, I also started logging miles. You should see my spreadsheet. I am a bit embarrassed but I love the charts and compares. So glad you shared yours, too.