Hello Winter

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Well, winter has set it in earnest now. We got hit with some truly crazy cold earlier this month. Between that and coming to the end of our most active year with the horses ever, both Brian and I are finding ourselves a little less motivated to get out and ride many times a week. On top of that, Steen got a cough that had me worried for a while, so I wasn’t really riding him much. It seems he has an early case of heaves. Which is a bummer. During the fall, we get a lot of crop dust in our pastures, and there is a gravel road that loops past our barn, too, that kicks up a lot of dust. There were a lot of irritants in the air for a while.

A couple other horses around the barn have heaves. While the bad news is that it’s not curable, the good news is it seems to be fairly easy to manage, particularly if you catch it early. He had the cough for a couple weeks before I caught on to what it most likely was. Then I tried him on an oral herbal remedy that seems to help some horses but didn’t help much for him. Finally, one afternoon he was breathing hard and heavy just coming in from the pasture and the cough was pretty bad. We gave him 5ccs of Dexamethasone. That seemed to clear up the cough instantly, and it hasn’t come back. His breathing has seemed normal since. So hopefully I can treat more effectively and sooner if symptoms show up again.

One night we went out to give him the cough powder and were going to go out to dinner after, so I had on non-barn clothes. I realized Steen and I both dress for harsh weather in the same style.

Polar vortex? Bring it on.

Beyond that, everyone is good. Steen and I have been pretending to be a roundpen lately when Brian and Nevada have been working on walking circles. I’ve been walking Steen around them in a larger circle, so I’m kind of a barrier, an encouragement to go forward, and a little hint about when the stop is going to come all in one. Mostly, Nevada is doing really well, but riding a young horse in the hackamore is definitely a pretty different beast than riding a young horse in the snaffle. There seems to be a lot less margin for error, and it can be harder to get to the feet. Fortunately, we’re not in a hurry and it’s all about learning for all of us. We’re confined to the indoor arena for a few months now anyway, so finding fun ways to work on her confidence and understanding is all we’re after.

She’s got the “relax” part down.

Between riding less and being a bit concerned about Steen, Aiden has been getting more time with K than me lately. She does really well with him, but we have been seeing his overall anxiety level increase a bit in recent weeks. A couple of days I had him in and he was borderline antsy. Antsy Aiden is kind of interesting because (with me, anyway) he doesn’t actually move or act out. He just stares around a lot with his head high and eyes wide. He’ll do everything I ask, but the moment I stop asking for things, he goes back to looking around and worrying.

Last week and weekend I wanted to focus on him a little more and try to get him back to feeling settled and relaxed. I worked with him a few days in a row, doing quite a bit of groundwork the first day in particular to get him focused on me and more confident before I got on. By the last day, I could tell he was in a different place mentally just leading him in. That whole day, he was back to just being utterly placid and chill. So hopefully we can keep him there now.

It’s actually really interesting to see how Aiden behaves with K in comparison to how he behaves with me. I think he gets more support from me than I fully realized. The biggest problem that comes up with him and K is he just loses confidence and gets a little flustered, and tries to go somewhere he feels safer. He does this at a slow walk, so it’s not a huge issue. K isn’t always quite quick enough to block him right away, but she is great at hanging in there until she gets him back where she was trying to go. Also it helps her work on her problem solving skills. But it’s just interesting because when I’m on Aiden he never gets a gate magnet or a barn magnet or any other kind of feeling that he has an underlying opinion about where he’d like to be going.

K on Aiden. Brian in teacher mode.

In other news, I got older again. As I prefer to do, I spent my birthday hanging out with my husband and our horses. Since Brian was with me, I didn’t have to resort to a birthday selfie this year.

Horseback Hours YTD: 217:40

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