Being Firm to Be Soft

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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The last month or so, Brian has been using Steen as a lesson horse. This is a little odd for me, because mostly I have not been around during his lessons. There is something distinctly strange about staying home while Brian heads off to the barn to hang out with someone else while that someone else rides my horse. Brian's student is not a total beginner, but she's had quite a few years away from riding. And even when she was riding before, she didn't ride like we do. So she's got a pretty steep learning curve ahead of her right now. She seems to be learning fast, but usually after Steen gets used in a lesson, the next time I get on him, there is a little bit of a need for me to recalibrate him. Of course, I haven't wanted to be too hard on him, since he's good enough to carry a rider who is not that great at communicating yet and be safe for her, even if he doesn't always know what...

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A New Foundation

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Today, for the first time in quite a while, I rode Zoey. Being around her is pretty different these days. I walked up to her in the pasture, and she dropped her head so I could slip the halter on. We went in and turned her and Bear out in the indoor. She's starting to get the idea that this is 'play time,' during which she can kick up a bit and blow off steam if she has any. She and Bear ran around a little, then I haltered her again. She stands quietly for grooming now. She doesn't mind dogs or strange people or doors opening and closing. She did get just a little tense when Brian swung the saddle on (my side is still sore, so he's continuing to play 'groom' for me) but I took her into the arena and did a little groundwork, and she calmed right back down. Then I swung on.

Breaking Records

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Typically for us, January is a month of not much riding. It's always cold. The new year always seems to come with a rush of work. It seems like a good time to hunker down with a throw blanket and a cup of tea. But today Brian and I both felt we could use an afternoon out with our equines. I rode Steen, he rode Zoey. One of my goals for 2014 and Steen is to work on the canter. Overall, his canter has improved dramatically in the last six months or so. We have more balance and control, more precise maneuverability. Today there were a  bunch of random objects around the arena. I worked on dodging around them at the canter. Steen was really great. We threaded between the large ball and the arena wall, picked a path around someone on foot giving a lesson and the mounting block, and loped circles of all different shapes and sizes. Going into a bend, he will soften and wait for my indicat...

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The First Two Weeks

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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So far, 2014 has been... interesting. We've had crazy weather -- temps lower than I really realized they could get in regions where things live, followed by warm stretches that have the horses sweating through their fuzzy coats. And my injuries from my tumble with Steen have been really slow to heal. Really slow. And so, I have not ridden a ton this year. But I've ridden some. Last weekend I rode Laredo. This weekend I rode Steen two days in a row. The effects of the bad bale appear to finally be behind us, and all our horses are doing pretty well. Steen, in particular, is making me happy. After his couple of weeks of slightly jittery behavior (all related to the bad bale, I think) he's calmed right back down, and Brian has even been using him as a lesson horse for his new student. Steen is also holding his weight really well this winter.

The Great Saddle Saga of 2013 (aka: two McCalls for sale)

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
It's been an interesting year in the tack department. I haven't blogged about all the details because it's been a lot of trial and error and things have felt a tad ridiculous at times. But now that we've got things pretty much figured out, I will share all in case what we learned proves useful for someone else. :) Last winter we bought my current saddle (a 15.5" McCall Trail Wade on semi HQ bars).
When we did this, we thought we'd be done with saddle buying for a while. But then Brian started feeling like his 16" seat was too big. When we bought his saddle, we went with a 16"...

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The Goals Post

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It is officially 2014, which means my saddle hours count has reset. I've been trying to decide what my ride time goal for the year should be. It's a bit tricky, because while I'd like the ride more, there is the reality that I am not a professional horseback rider. I am a web developer and I own a small business and that takes... well... time. So, I'm going to shoot for 200 hours in the saddle again, with the caveat that I want to hit that goal by early December. I do not want to be scrambling towards the finish line again. In other news, Brian has returned to blogging. His blog got a redesign. And while he hasn't been blogging, it hasn't been due to lack of involvement with the horses. He has, in fact, clobbered me in terms of saddle hours three years running now. Here is a chart ...

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2013 Recap

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Today is the last day of 2013, and I will not be spending any of it on horseback. So that means we get to do the official tally.
Total saddle time in 2013
200 hours, 10 minutes
Talk about barely squeaking over the finish line. This is the first year I came so close to falling short of my goal. Of course, it was also a big goal. But still. Tripping at the finish line would have been a bummer (even if it happened because all four of our horses were sick from bad hay). Because setting goals and working towards them means gathering data, and also because I am a nerd, I have created three fun charts comparing various information from my last three years on horseback (I never kept track of this sort of thing before 2011).