Finding new tricks

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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When we first moved the horses last year, I was very pleased to find that Steen was bombproof at the new place. He was happy to truck around the unfamiliar spaces and up for anything I threw at him. This was after I'd scarcely even seen him for six weeks due to COVID. He had good energy and was happy to listen. We had some really great riding for quite some time. But something started to shift as the year progressed. By the end of the summer I realized Steen was experiencing some intermittent pain. On my vet's recommendation, I started him on meds to help with mild arthritis. But around this time he suddenly became spooky and jumpy. I would swing into the saddle and it would feel like he was ready to explode from the first step. He never did anything huge. But he had a handful of big spooks and he ran off with me one time. He hadn't felt so unpredictable in years. I couldn't fig...

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A New Project

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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In 2020, just about every major aspect of our lives changed in some dramatic way. And that made the year feel weirdly static. Forward wasn't really on the table. We were just trying to get back to a place of stability. Moving our small herd to a piece of land that had never previous housed horses was a lot of work. It was good work, but it was both physically demanding and logistically complex. We wanted to make the best use of the space. This meant striking a balance between the impact horses have on their surroundings and making sure the horses themselves had what they would need to stay healthy and happy. There were adventures in buying hay, designing and building feeders, and learning how much turnout our  little pasture could support. Mistakes were made. But we were actually feeling quite prepared by the time winter rolled in. The cold months were a little more quiet in terms ...

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A Different Sort of Transition

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Well, we're 2.5 months into 2021. Last year when I set the very modest goal of enjoying our horses, I did not realize how big a challenge that would end up being. The derecho meant we were moving (twice) and house-shopping in the midst of a pandemic. It was hard to make the horses a priority most of the time. The apartment we lived in for fours months while we were trying to get our life back in order was less than ten minutes away from the farm where our horses now live.  It was also a basement unit with almost no view of the outside. It had an apartment overhead that housed four college students. To say it was not a totally relaxing environment will suffice. As a result, we found ourselves escaping to the outdoors every chance we got. And we were lucky that we had a long, mild fall.

Nobody's Getting ...

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What Doesn’t Kill You

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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2020. What else is there to say? It's been a year of change for everyone. In our case, we adjusted decently well to the new restrictions put in place by the pandemic and threw ourselves head first into the work of building a new space for the horses on our friends' land. As of early August, we had four happy horses and an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year. Then August 10 happened.

Hello, Derecho

Personally, I've had enough of learning about new extreme weather events via the expedient yet traumatic experience of living through them. In the case of the day in question, a derecho hit Iowa. I had never heard of a derecho. I certainly didn't know one was coming. I happened to break out of my usual routine and spend the morning with the horses. Then I drove home, stopped at a fruit stand to buy a melon in response to a random impulse, and got back to the house we'd ...

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A Big Change

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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2020 has been full of surprises for a lot of people. And we are no exception. Living through a pandemic is an intense experience. Like nearly everyone not on the front lines, I find myself bouncing between horror and gratitude, fear and boredom, frustration and uncertainty. I have felt impotence over my inability to influence the course of this disaster even while appreciating the clarity with which I can suddenly see my own life and priorities. Bottom line: We are lucky. Although we've seen big shifts, we are okay.  Brian isn't going to his office for now, but his job still exists. My business has experienced some upheaval, but it's still alive. We don't have family in the area, so we're not struggling as much with social distancing measures as some people. Our lives don't actually feel all that different, day to day. But we've had one huge change, and it's to do with the horse...

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Horse Life Goals for 2020

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I'm completely aware dates are arbitrary numbers we humans have assigned to chunks of times the better to parse them. There is no real significance in the turning of a decade. I'm also completely aware, though, that my mindset has a huge impact on my life. And so I'm not above using meaningless milestones to my own advantage. Last year was a tough year. For me, it began with the flu, followed by complications. I was back on my feet for little more than a month. Then I got into some poison ivy. Up until recently, I thought poison ivy was a lot like cactus. You definitely don't want to touch it. If you fall into it, it sucks. But it's not really a big deal. You pluck the thorns out. You're sore for a while. You move on. Turns out poison ivy can get way, way worse than that. In my case, I got some toxin into a scratch on my foot. This led to a full blown systemic reaction of ...

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What about Nevada?

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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As a few of you have have noted, my post about Fitz's arrival left the question of Nevada rather up in the air. That's because the guy who dropped off Fitz actually offered to buy Nevada. He and his brothers train and ride performance horses. They have a stud and a small breeding program. Nevada came up during what I thought would be a simple hand-off of the new horse. But it turned out the guy liked her looks and her attitude and her papers. He was prepared to take her off our hands less than five minutes after I mentioned her in passing. Brian was at work at the time. We hadn't even made up our minds about what to do since learning Nevada was really and truly lame. So I dithered and said we'd think about it. In the week that followed, we proceeded to collect a few more opinions on the nature of Nevada's lameness. We thought it over. We also dug up some old videos and realized Nev...

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Finding a Catalyst

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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A week ago today I got a text from Brian. I read it and immediately got up from my desk. I left my office, changed my clothes, hopped into the car, and drove out to the barn. The cloudy sky was spitting when I arrived.  I moved some horses to make access to the pasture gate easier. Just as I made it back to the indoor arena, the drizzle shifted to something more significant. I sat inside while it poured. After about ten minutes, the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and a truck and trailer pulled into the driveway. I walked outside to receive our new horse. That would be this guy:

The inevitable twist

It's been a busy five weeks since my last post. Some things have changed. First, we spent a couple weeks rea...

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Nine Rides in a Row

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It's funny how sometimes a change that feels tough can work out for the best. It turns out selling Laredo was one of the better horse-related decisions we've made in a good long while. Though letting him go felt so sad and so hard at the time, the results, so far, have been positive. First, there was the getting him ready phase. He was already pretty dialed in with everything when we listed him for sale. Nevertheless, we spent the month between when his ad went live and the day he left riding him more days than not. That was fun, and it brought him up to a level of polish that was easy to enjoy.  Knowing the end was near made the whole thing a little bittersweet. But it also made me think back on our early days with the kid as a 3-year-old. From here, it's really easy to appreciate how far we've all come since those days. [caption id="attachment_8763" align="alignnone" width="95...

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The Kid Lands in Paradise

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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When we bought Laredo in 2012, the plan was to keep him for a couple of  years, get him going nicely, and find him a good home when we he was ready. He was our first foray into "project horse" territory. In retrospect we had more to learn about working with young horses than we knew at the time. But Laredo was great from day one. He was patient as we fumbled through figuring out how to help him learn. He was tolerant of our mistakes and we all made progress in a more or less linear fashion. [caption id="attachment_4101" align="alignnone" width="720"] The day Laredo arrived -- not quite three years old.[/caption] Before we knew it, we'd had Laredo for a few years. Bear was retired to Miracles in Motion. We'd bought and sold ...

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