Steen in the Two-Rein

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
It's been a little while since I rode Steen in the two-rein, and I feel like I've addressed a lot of the weaknesses riding in it last brought to light for me. On Tuesdays, I have my lessons with my student, J. She's been riding with me for close to a year now, but we've had some big breaks during that time. Lately, she's been coming out consistently again. I've had her riding Laredo, and she's really clicking with him. It's actually pretty fantastic to see your student and the horse you've trained getting along so well. Last week, J had her best lesson by a wide margin, and her progress got me thinking about my progress. Usually during her lessons, I pretty much just sit on Steen and watch, occasionally using him to demonstrate some maneuver or other. It occurred to me that one of the things Steen needs in terms of us settling into the two-rein is time. He just needs to get used to...

Read more

Getting to Know Aiden

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Now that Brian and I have four horses again, we're settling into a rhythm. We've divided our guys into 'strings' for the time being. I'm going to be working with Steen and Aiden for a chunk of time, while Brian is primarily in charge of Laredo and Oliver. I rode Aiden for the first time since his abscess the weekend before last. We did a light ride in the indoor arena, and things felt pretty good. Then he ended up getting a week off. This last weekend, though, it was time to get back to work in earnest. I rode him both Saturday and Sunday. Overall, things went quite well. Now that he's accustomed to his environment and not in pain, Aiden is proving to be even more laid back than we thought. In fact, this weekend with the sun and the exercise, he was actually a little low energy. Both Oliver and Aiden are interesting in that most of the time they are pretty good about yielding...

Read more

Farewell to Bear

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
It's been hard to bring myself to write this post, so I have been putting it off. We recently came to a difficult decision. Bear has moved on to a new home. He is now in the hands of the good people at Miracles in Motion - the therapeutic riding program where I volunteered some years ago. This change is the result of a year and a half of monitoring Bear's health and happiness. While it seems he thrives in light work, too much or inconsistent riding leaves him a little off. It's not a focused kind of problem - not a particular sore spot or definable issue. It's more of a general overall, mild distress that seems to crop up and leave, then reappear at irregular intervals. It's easy for us to over-work him. A ride that is fine for him one week will leave him uncomfortable the next. Or, sometimes, he'll get a week off and come in seeming down and uncomfortable. We were struggling wi...

Read more

A Slow Spring

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
It's been a really busy 10 days or so. For the first week after draining Aiden's abscess, we unwrapped, soaked, flushed, and rewrapped it every day. That was a lot, because it meant going to the barn every night, even if Brian and I both worked long days. Plus, this (naturally) coincided with Brian being out of town overnight for work, me working extra hours to wrap up and launch two large projects, and me catching a cold. After five days or so, we moved Aiden from the stall to the side pen. On Tuesday, we removed the wrap entirely and put him back in the side pen. Fortunately, the ground out there is dry. He'll get dusty, but the healing wound shouldn't get packed with mud or manure or anything very nasty. He's stopped favoring the foot entirely, and it seems to be well into the mending process. Hopefully we don't see any backsliding.

Foxtails and an Abscess

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
It seems to be a pattern that we end up calling the vet shortly after getting a new horse. This time around is turned out to be no exception. As we mentioned, Aiden was a little off on the right hind when farrier saw him on Wednesday. We checked in with him on Thursday and Friday, and he seemed to be doing better. But then on Saturday, Brian's parents came for a visit. They were curious to meet our new horses, so they drove over from Chicago to spend Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning with us. We schemed about getting all four of us on horseback at once. Except, yeah, that didn't happen. We got to the barn, and I immediately noticed that the bale full of foxtails had not been replaced. Worse, the other bale was almost gone. The herd does avoid the foxtail bales if they have a choice, but when there's nothing else to eat, they'll eat the bad hay. We went into the past...

Read more

The Trees and The Wind

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
On Friday, we had another nice day at the barn, except Steen was still showing symptoms that there might be foxtails in the hay again. I looked at the new bale they'd put out to replace the last one that had foxtails, and found it chalk full of the offending weed. I talked to the barn manager, and hoped that was that. Brian had his lesson, so after an hour indoors during which he rode Oliver and I rode Laredo, we decided to head out to the tree pasture for the first time this year. I rode Steen. Brian gave his lesson while riding Laredo, and his student rode Bear. I mostly did my own thing. Steen was happy to be out. When we left Brian and his student behind and headed down to the far end of the lot, he was happy to go but not at all jazzed up. I've been thinking a lot lately about my weaknesses as a rider (I always think about this a lot, but new horses give you new perspective...

Read more

Sunny Days

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Today we finally had some warm weather. Technically, we just barely made it into the 50s, but the sun was warm and the air was dry. It felt great. Aiden is getting some more time off to gain weight and heal his foot. Happily, he's seeming really nicely settled into the herd now, and appears to have taken my instructions to eat as much as possible to heart.
  Everyone else got a ride today. We started the day with Oliver and Laredo. I spent about 10 minutes collecting Oliver video, and edited it down to one minute of highlights:  
He's already way, way happier about...

Read more

Feet and Tails

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Yesterday, Aiden got the day off. When Brian rode him on Monday, he seemed fatigued, and also stamped his feet when the cinch came up. We've been riding these guys really light, but there's no getting around the fact that neither one of them has worn a saddle for years. Brian did a light ride on Oliver followed by a ride on Bear. I rode Steen and Laredo. Today, though, it was time for the farrier to come. One thing that is great about these guys is they remain ultra friendly. After having to teach our last couple of horses how to be caught, I must admit it's pretty pleasant not to have embark on that journey with these two. They are always happy to see you. Today, they were in separate areas of the pasture when we went out to get them. This is the first time that's happened. Aiden was tucked up against the windblock between Tate and a new horse whose name I can't remember....

Read more

Oliver Overview

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Today, I rode Oliver for the first time since the test ride at their old home. My impression of Oliver that first day was that he was pretty darn solid, and that has been borne out by what we've seen since we got him down to our barn. Oliver is a pretty interesting horse. (I know, I know. Aren't they all?) Although the first day Brian worked with him he was super pushy and needed a lot of reminding to stay out of your space, once the lesson clicked, it has stayed put. The last few days he's been quieter during tacking and grooming than Aiden (who has a tendency to strain around a little try keep an eye on what's happening around him). Oliver is happy to chill. He's not dead to his environment, he's just relaxed. My groundwork with Oliver didn't feel like work at all. He was following a feel, stepping in both directions, disengaging, backing, all of it off light asks with the air...

Read more

Aiden Assessment

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
We've had Aiden and Oliver for just over a week now, and things continue to go well. For the first several days, I worked with Aiden and Brian worked with Oliver. Aiden has a sweet temperament with a slight inclination towards anxiety. His initial pushiness and tendency to want to walk on top of you have not resurfaced since the first day. He enjoys facepets and has an endearing habit of nickering when he sees you coming. Our groundwork has made consistent progress. I can now move all of his feet with a light ask, disengage front and hind, and have him walk off in both directions without causing him any worry. It's a little harder for him to disengage in one direction than the other, but we're practicing and he's already gotten a little smoother. Although not spooky, Aiden can get anxious about environmental factors. Most particularly, other horses coming into the arena have ...

Read more