Farewell to Bear

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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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...

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A Slow Spring

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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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.

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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...

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The Trees and The Wind

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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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...

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Sunny Days

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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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...

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Feet and Tails

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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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....

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Oliver Overview

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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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...

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Aiden Assessment

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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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 ...

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The Triple Double

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Today, we rode three horses each. I rode Aiden, Tate, and Steen. Brian rode Oliver, Laredo, and Bear.

We had a great day with both Oliver and Aiden. Oliver was the big surprise. His attitude was hugely changed today. His pushy, restless inclinations was almost entirely gone. He lead nicely, stood quietly for tacking and grooming, and was pretty darn great under saddle.

Aiden was really good too. He lead nicely in from the pasture, and our groundwork was good. I had an easier time moving his forequarters from the ground. His big issue today was he wanted to come towards me when I asked him to change directions. Also, when I first introduced the flag (I hadn't used it with him before) he was pretty freaked out at first. Once he got up the courage to sniff it, though, he got over it pretty quickly. Pretty soon, I could touch him all over with it.

Both Bri...

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A Little Video

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Today I had to work all day, even though it was nearly 60 degrees out for the first time this year.

I can't complain, really. The flexibility of my job is the reason I was able to pick up two new horses on Tuesday, then give a presentation at the university yesterday followed by an immediate trip to the barn. But today was my comeuppance. I did take a moment to pull a brief video of Oliver and Aiden off my phone. Otherwise, I had to put thoughts of horses aside.



Fortunately, next week is spring break for Brian, and I intend to work reduced hours. So we should be able to get a lot of horse time in.

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