Sunburn Season: aka Paint Horse Problems

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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The first time Steen got a really terrible sunburn was in 2012. It was a surprise to me at that point that a horse could even get a sunburn in areas where they actually had hair. Although I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and my sister's Appaloosa has always had a tendency to burn the pink skin around his eyes and on his sheath, it wasn't until owning a Paint in Iowa that I learned how serious a sunburn can be. Steen is a tobiano. According to my highly unscientific measurements, he is 46%* white. The white hair is pure white. Underneath the white hair is pink skin. Although those white markings are literally part of what he was bred for, they're also surprisingly problematic. Steen has more skin issues than any of our other horses.

Turns out, white skin is vulnerable

The ...

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Piper Goes Home

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It goes without saying that we get attached to our horses. In the past, when we've taken in projects with the intention of giving a horse a tune-up or filling in some gaps in their education, we've always managed to complete that process in a year or less. That's a short enough time that while we would become quite fond of those horses, they never felt integrated in our lives the way our 'keepers' do.
[caption id="attachment_7993" align="alignnone" width="612"] "Hi I'm Piper and I have the mane of envy."[/caption]
That was supposed to happen with Piper. She was supposed to be a horse we kept only briefly—just long enough to lay a foundation of groundwork and the basics of work unde...

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Our Bit vs Bitless Philosophy

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Somewhat regularly, people comment on our hackamores in the context of the bit vs bitless debate. These comments range from curious to mystified to laudatory. They usually boil down to, "I can't believe you can / are you sure you're safe doing? / it's so nice you can accomplish ... X, Y, or Z without a bit." These comments always surprise me. They surprise me because they remind me how much the way I think about the tools I use to communicate with my horses has changed over the years. Because I, too, used to look at people riding, notice a piece of equipment, and think that tool had something to do with the way the horse was moving or behaving. I fell into that wormhole myself plenty of times: the one where I thought this bit could solve that problem.

It's true, I love the hackamore

It can't be denied we mostly ride our horses in the hackamore these days. The hackamor...

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Why I’m breaking up with Instagram

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Instagram intrigued me from the very start. Long before I had a smartphone (or any desire for one) the one thing I felt I was missing was being able to see and share little square snapshots. When I finally caught up with the modern world and got a phone with a touchscreen, one of the first things I did was install Insta. And for a long time, I really enjoyed it. I posted. I liked. I sought out people to follow. I quietly did not follow people who did not produce content I found interesting. My Instagram feed became something Twitter and Facebook could never be. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was full of stuff I actually cared about, and nothing more. Well, that's all over now. Instagram has  aggressively rolled out ads and a "feature" called Recommended for You. These two changes have hideously altered my Instagram experience. I feel like a horde of drunken frat ...

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Things to do when it’s too hot to ride your horse

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Summer is here! Here in Iowa, it felt pretty late in coming. Worse, the honeymoon is already over. The sun is out. Temps are rising. Some days it's just too hot to consider climbing atop a warm, sweaty animal.

How hot is too hot to ride?

First things first. Generally speaking, you should be very careful with your horse if you add the temperature and humidity readings together and the total is 140 or higher. Also take into consideration your horse's fitness level, how long you ride, and how hard you ride. Older and younger horses are more vulnerable and need more recovery time. We've discovered that one of the most important factors is actually not the days, but the nights. Are temps dropping when the sun goes down? If so, your horse will cool down at night as well. Here in Iowa, we can get strings of days with no break in the heat. If nights are staying ...

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Palate Cleanser

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Between moving this  blog from Google's servers onto my own WordPress install and (somewhat ironically, I suppose) working through the process of backing up thousands of my old photos in my Google account, lately I am inundated with photos of the past. It is weird to see old shots of myself on Steen where both of us look significantly younger than we do now. This is possible because I've had him for a decade now.  Like, literally, in just a few weeks Steen and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary. That is nuts. I don't feel old enough to have owned a horse I purchased after college for that long. I don't feel old enough to not actually look young anymore. [caption id="attachment_7665" align="alignnone" width="950"]Read more

The Great Outdoors

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I definitely appreciate that having an indoor arena to ride in all winter is a luxury. But I have to say, for some reason, this year the indoor rides have been uninspiring. I think it's partly just personal malaise, and partly that Steen is so broke by this point, but riding in small circles is hard to keep interesting. It's not always bad. A couple of weeks ago, Brian and I arrived to find the arena freshly groomed. We celebrated by looping our reins around our horns and laying down a circle each, one on either side of the arena. Then we started mirroring each other and doing figure-eights with both halves. It was kind of ridiculously fun to be able to see the exact tracks we put down and challenge ourselves to be precise. But the arena is not usually freshly groomed. It's sometimes crowded. Pretty much always cold. Which was why it was so exciting when we got to ride outside, ...

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Please excuse our dust

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I've been totally delinquent about blogging in recent years. I'm not sure why. One theory is that the way we've been learning has changed. It's hard to describe, exactly, but it's like we've left behind our period of beginner gains where it felt like every ride was revelatory in some way. We're still learning. A ton. But the gains are harder to quantify and harder to write about. I had a period of time where I felt everything I tried to say was taken and twisted into something I never meant. And this eventually made me reluctant to even post. Another theory is that blogging in general has become a bit old-school. Instagram and Facebook have largely replaced long-form style posting of personal content on a private domain. Yet another possibility is life has been pretty steady lately. With less change, there's less news. Posting about the same stuff over and over can start to feel...

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2018, Interrupted

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We started the year with our traditional big road trip to Arizona and Texas. Coming back, we were determined to get into a better swing of things with the barn. And we have. Several times. And life has conspired to throw our consistency out the window again in every case. First it was the weather. Then it was other life weirdness. Most recently, we got sick for the first time in over three years. But it's okay. Winter is always difficult, between cold and conditions that sometimes make it impossible for us to even get to the barn. Despite all that, I've ridden all four of horses this year, including a couple rides on Nevada and a handful on Piper. And since I've been silent on this blog fo...

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Same Old

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Well, here we are in September. I guess we're just reaching a point in life where things don't change as much or as often as they once did. Esti is two now, and pretty well settled in. Brian's job is good. Work is steady for me. Life goes on. Which is mostly good as, generally speaking, our life is pretty darn fabulous. But as far as the horses go, we're still a bit stuck. However, things don't feel as gloomy as they did last year.

Laredo

Back at the beginning of the year, we decided to sell Laredo. Then after dragging our heels on that for several months, we realized we really didn't want to. Since then we've had some success managing his cough. Brian's been riding him and things have been going well. He's just such a fabulous, solid guy at this point, we're loathe to let him go. He got a cut on his nose a few weeks ago that was right under where the hackamore sits, so ...

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