And Then There Were Three

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Steen is very much on the mend, so today was the first day Robin and I did a double ride since sometime in September.  It was a beautiful, sunny, fall day and just perfect to be out at the barn.

I rode Bear first.

He was good from the get go.  I’m not sure what it is exactly, but we have been having the greatest time together these past few weeks.  Today was no different.

I knew I would not be riding him very long, so we warmed up (it takes him a little longer on the cool days) by strolling up and down the strip and the drainage.  Then when he felt good we did a little trotting.  I was hoping the soybean field would be free again, as we’ve been getting some great long trots in it, but they tilled it up and plowed some fertilizer in, so we were limited to the strip and the drainage.  But that was OK.  We would trot all they way down the drainage, turn around, and then lope back up to the strip, turn right and lope all the way to the end.  The first time things were going so nicely we even did a few extra circles up top.

I know I have had some nice, long lopes on Bear indoors, but this might have been one of the longest point to point lopes we’ve done.  It was really fun, and great for both of us to settle into it.  We took it easy for a few minutes and then did it again.  The second one was even more comfortable than the first.  I’ll have to keep it in our normal rotation of things to work on.

We took a short break and switched horses.  Robin was kind enough to let me ride Laredo with her brand new mecate.  It feels as nice it looks.

Laredo and I mostly took it easy.  After his few weeks off from the sore shoulder, and then Robin spending most of the time riding him, we haven’t had many good rides together.  Today he felt like the horse I got used to in the early fall.  He was tired, but he was also very willing to listen to me.

We had one exciting moment when we were coming back up the strip. Things had been going great, and I just wanted him to trot back up the top.  He gave me a nice stride or two and then launched into a flat and fast lope.  This is very, very un-Laredo-like, and my first instinct was to pull him into a circle.  But he was cruising fast, and I didn’t want to startle him and possibly knock him over, so I just let go and figured he would peter out near the top.  On the way up he tripped hard on his front end, and I almost thought he would go to his knees, or at least drop to the trot, but he recovered and kept running as fast as he was before.

Once we got near Robin and Steen I asked for a stop and he was happy to oblige.  Robin was complimenting me on Laredo’s great energy, and I said that it was something of a surprise.  Then she noticed my mecate was hanging off his right side, and it is usually on the left.  There were some strong winds from the south today, and I’m guessing when we started to trot back up the wind blew the end of the mecate over his butt and hit him.

On Robin’s ride she had a little trouble getting him to go, and a tiny pop from her mecate got him into a nice lope.  So he must have just felt this and thought he better get running.  Funny guy.  But I’m glad I let him go, I don’t want to squash any forward momentum from a horse who is already inclined to be lazy.

The last week of rides have been good for him.  He is more relaxed when we’re tacking him up and more attentive to us undersaddle and on the ground. He is also starting to get some of his fitness back.  For a few weeks he lost a little muscle mass and developed quite the hay belly.

In other news, I hit my 150 yearly hours goal today.  After last years 109 hours, this felt like a big, but doable, goal.  It has truly been a great year, though, because I had no problem hitting it.

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