Summer Riding

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Robin posted a while ago about how amazing our July weather was.  It didn’t last.  The second half of the month was very hot, and we didn’t get quite as much riding in.  But now August is back to great temps.  We spent some really long days at the barn this weekend.

Saturday’s ride ended up being a lot longer than we anticipated.  When we arrived at the barn, a fellow boarder reminded us our Vet (whose land abuts our barn owner’s land) was hosting his big Eventing competition.  We’ve gone over to watch some of it in the past, but this weekend we wanted to ride more.  So instead we grabbed Bear and Steen and headed out into the fields.

We warmed them up with some walking, trotting, and loping about.  Both were energetic and feeling good.  After a while, we moved over to the edge of the eventing course.  From two different vantage points we could see about half a dozen jumps and a water crossing.

The guys were both quite curious watching the course walkers and golf carts getting everything set up, but they took it all in stride.

Then we heard the hoofbeats of the first horse and rider galloping our way.  Bear’s ears perked up as they came through the trees, cleared a jump, ran through the stream and came to the closest jump to us.  They didn’t hit this one in the ideal way, and the horses legs banged against the wood.  This noise really startled Steen, and before I knew it Bear was spinning away, too.  I got him turned around and things were fine from there on out.  The next rider came and I just petted his neck and let him watch.  I think he was pleased I wasn’t making him do that kind of stuff.

But the second rider basically turned Steen inside out.  He could not handle the running and jumping horses.  Robin had her hands full keeping him from spinning and working his way into the cornfields.  We hadn’t seen him this upset in years.  It was a little disappointing, as we thought he was past these kinds of things.  Guess you never know.

So we spent longer than we anticipated watching the eventers while Robin worked to calm Steen down.  Bear and I mostly hung out, worked on a few things in between riders, and snapped some photos.  I didn’t get too many good ones, but this horse clearing the downhill jump was pretty exciting.

It’s a much steeper downhill than it looks.

By the time we got back to the barn we had been riding for three hours and weren’t really up to grabbing the other two, who we’ve nicknamed The Green Team.  So we called it a day and went home.

Sunday was significantly more relaxing.  We joined two other riders for an easy trail ride.  Steen was a little antsy going out, but ultimately he was great.  And visiting some of the same places where he was freaking out yesterday was probably good for him.

When we returned to the barn Robin kept working with Steen and I grabbed Zoey.  We’ve been having some really great rides together lately.  On Monday I got out and rode her.  It was just the two of us.  Not that momentous, but for some reason we had only ridden her with other horses.  She was great, though.

Today she was a little touchy for saddling again; weird how those things can backslide.  And during groundwork I found she has this tendency to pull away from you while going in a right circle.  To the left she has a wonderful, soft bend to her body.  Going right she is somewhat rigid and constantly pulling against he rope.  I used the flag to simultaneously drive her and encourage a bend.  If she got too stiff Robin suggested I rhythmically disengage her hind end.  After a few minutes we had made some nice improvements.

Under saddle she was a little jittery at the start, but we just got to work and she calmed right down.  She is a funny horse.  She is very sensitive, but unlike Steen, she is not spooky at all.  So what happens is she does not get bothered by things outside of her little personal bubble, but she gets highly reactive to things inside that bubble.  Unfortunately, the rider is part of that bubble.  So she puts in some big dancing steps to get away from our feet and mecates and anything else that encroaches on her.  Bugs, too. 

I guess it is just a product of her personality and her greenness.  She’s 7, but she’s only had about 6 months total riding time in her life.  I try to remind myself of that when we work on whirly-gigs and get a great disengage of the hind end, but when I bring my other leg in to move the front over, she flips out.  That happened twice today, once in each direction.  But we just kept working on it, and I think we came together nicely.  I know Bear and Laredo tend to get a little stuck moving from the hind to the front, so I probably come in with more leg than I should.  So I worked on using very slight pressure with my calf and I assume Zoey just got used to my leg coming in at that time. 

We’ve been working on all things leg related, including side-passing.

The funny thing is, you really never know what is going to bother her.  She is almost always happy and calm and ready to respond, and then all of a sudden she’ll just flip out.  It never happens when she is jittery and anxious.

We’ll be heading out of town for a couple weeks, so both us and the horses will get a vacation.  Zoey has come a long way since we got her, but really, we are hoping for more.  And since it seems like she just needs time, we’ll be looking to get a lot of hours on her when we get back.  Hopefully that, combined with some rest, will let us see even more changes.

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