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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Ranch Dog Tales: Is Dots a Nevada Fuzzy?

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Forgive the digression, but I wanted to go off on a mild tangent about dogs. Ranch dogs, to be exact. Fictional ranch dogs, specifically. These are fake dogs inspired by dogs I have known and dogs I have heard and read about. I'm talking about the dogs in my series of Western love stories. Those novels are set on a ranch in Arizona called the Tipped Z. Each title features dogs to varying degrees. And these dogs are perhaps the number one thing readers ask me about with regards to these books. So far I haven't ever provided a very thorough answer. Due to a recent resurgence in speculation on the topic, I am going to do so now.

Dogs and ranches

Anyone who has ever spent much time on a working ranch knows there are pretty much always dogs around. For me, the ranch I've spent the most time on is located outside Prescott, ...

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Oh hai 2019!

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Well. It's 2019. We are 1.5 months in and wow. It's been a doozy. I think I can safely say I have spent less time with horses in the last eight weeks than at any point since I purchased Steen. The only other time that even comes close to comparing was my honeymoon, when Brian and I spent a month walking across Scotland and then attended my brother's wedding in northern England.  I had zero horse contact during that time. But at least we were having fun.

The dry spell has been painful

So far this year, I have been on the back of a horse exactly two times. Two! This is insane. But first I contracted the flu during our Christmas travels. This progressed into acute bronchitis, which left me able to do very little for about six weeks. On top of that, we had the polar vortex. That was INTENSE. I mean, I know I grew up in a desert and therefore perhaps I am not as resilient to ...

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Bareback Prescription

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Winter has come on hard and fast, which is a bit of a bummer. I was hoping for a long, mild fall. Evidently the Iowa department of weather didn't get that memo. It's been unseasonably cold, wet, and snowy. Worse than that, though, is Steen took a hard kick to the belly. This resulted in a big swollen lump that alarmed me enough I had a vet in to look at it. [caption id="attachment_8219" align="alignnone" width="950"] This was the day I noticed the bump. I climbed on for a very brief ride just to gauge how he was moving and feeling.[/caption] Fortunately, it was probably just shy of being serious. Although it's super tender and has resulted in a bunch of extra drainage accumulating lower down on his belly, he mostly...

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Nagging Legs

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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After Piper left us, we lapsed into a horse lull. Part of it was just the sheer relief of finding her a good home at last. So many years of worrying came so suddenly to an end, and we found ourselves just wanting to lay low for a bit. There were other factors too. The weather in Iowa has been very, very bad. Work always gets busy this time of year. Steen has had his sunburn. But really, if I'm being honest, we were mostly just kind of out of energy for the horses for a little while. To add to our lower-than-usual motivation levels, our recent struggle (if you can call it that) with Steen and Laredo is they are both super duper broke. They are broke to the po...

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