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Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I love weekends. Our days go like this: We wake up naturally, and make coffee. I spend a few hours writing. We make breakfast, eat, and head to the barn. We ride two horses each, head home, have tea, and wile the afternoon away reading or doing a workout or whatever else we feel like. It’s exactly what I would do with my life every day, if I could pick.

This weekend was chilly, and there weren’t a lot of people around the barn. We decided to switch things up and ride Steen and Laredo together, which meant having Piper and Nevada in at the same time as well. While both our girls are pretty quiet and overall fairly steady, they are also both still super green. Having a more solid horse in the arena when one of us is riding one of them is nice because it offers extra support. On the other hand, it does limit the support rider a tad. When all of our riding is constrained by our greenest horses, we definitely don’t get as much done with our more seasoned mounts.

But riding Nevada and Piper together went fine. Both days, we had some other horses and riders around during our ride on Steen and Laredo, but things had entirely cleared out by the time we brought the girls in. On Saturday, I started with Piper, doing  groundwork as usual. For some reason she was a little off. She wasn’t following my feel at all when I tried to send her in a circle. Once she went, she was trying to stop every three steps or so. I tried to fix this by asking her for some more life, and she only got defensive and wanted to drift away from me. I banged my head against the wall for a while, until my kind and observant husband suggested I might try doing less instead. So I did, and she got less bothered, but her movement on the circle was still not great. We worked at it until she was at least going softly and traveling until I asked her to stop. This was a mystifying change, as this isn’t a problem I’ve ever had with Piper before. Everything else was checking out great, so I decided to just climb on and see how she felt under saddle.

In spite of the sub part groundwork, we had our best ride yet. Early on, she had a bit of a pull towards the arena door. I tried to avoid it for a while, but eventually just let her go down there and then gave her some bumps and blocks when she tried to stop or turn sharply. It took two passes with me being fairly active to keep her going. The third pass, she slowed down but only a little nudge from my calves kept her going. The fourth pass, she didn’t even change pace.

Later in the ride, another boarder arrived and tied her mare up by the tack lockers. This got Piper curious, and I noticed she had some snappier energy to her walk heading towards the top of the arena. I was about to see if I could use that momentum to get her into a trot when she broke into one on her own. I went with her, and we trotted up the wall and came to a soft stop near the top gate. I then moved her on, and got her into the trot a few more times. She’s got this awesome trot – energetic but smooth, and she was really balanced and consistent with her pace.

Sunday, I think she was a little fatigued, but our groundwork was way, way better from the get-go. Gone was her total lack of response to my ask when I sent her in the circle, so I don’t know what had her disrupted the day before. I did our usual stuff, and got on. We walked around a little, but then Piper started getting bothered by the view into the stall barn, as well as something about the lower arena door. She started to feel a little unsettled. I considered various ways to work on the problem, and decided to get off. I took her to both places where she was seeming uncomfortable, did a few minutes of groundwork, and got back on. Once I was on board again, she was considerably more relaxed. The ride went really well from there. More and more, my legs are having meaning. We can walk, turn, back, flex, disengage, and get a soft feel standing, all on a super light touch with reasonable consistently. I got her into the trot a few more times as well, and she was just as smooth and peppy as the day before.

So, I now have a whopping 2.5 hours on board Piper. My goal is to get 100 hours on her this year. We’ll see how long that takes.

Horseback Hours YTD: 28:15

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