A New Chapter

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I've spent a lot of time with puppies. My family has always had dogs. Those dogs had several litters when I was a kid. In college a good friend of mine got a puppy and we shared custody for the first six months of her life. My sister had a Great Dane before she was done with college. My brother and his wife have a hound/heeler mix. The six months before I moved to Iowa, I lived at home and helped raise my mom and dad's Australian Shepherd. Since then, however, I've had a lot less to do with dogs. There are dogs around the barn, of course, and they are excellent for petting and saying hello to. We've house/puppy sat for friends a few times over the years. There was also the time a stray Border Collie wandered into our yard and we almost kept her. While I love the house w...

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Piper’s Progress

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We've been in a good riding pattern since we got back from South Dakota. It's been fun getting to know K's new horse a little, and the weather has been wonderful. We've changed our ride combos and gone back to riding Steen and Nevada together, then switching to Laredo and Piper. This is mostly because Nevada has continued to be unsettled and a bit explosive lately, and having Steen nearby supports her in a way Piper's presence does not. Piper and I have transitioned to the outdoor arena, which is a much bigger space. It's positioned so it has a view of the stall herd, the feed lot herd, and the pasture herd, plus any activity going on near the barn. I have been looking forward to getting Piper out there since the footing is not as deep and the environment is more stimulating. I thought it would help her feel more inclined to move out.

Spreading the Fever

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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On Wednesday, we had a fun job. Our barn owner asked us to be there when K's new horse arrived so we could oversee her introduction to the herd. We headed out a little early, said hi to all our ponies, then rode Steen and Laredo. Both the guys were great. They were fat and happy after their time off in the big pasture. Steen felt willing and peppy as we dabbled with some of the concepts from the clinic. We had a nice long ride. When we finished up, we closed Steen and Laredo into the winter lot (much to Laredo's chagrin) and brought Piper and Nevada up to the barn. We groomed the girls and hung out until K arrived. She was followed shortly thereafter by a horse trailer.
We put Nevada and Piper out with Steen and Laredo, a...

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Four Days in South Dakota

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It had been a couple of years since Brian and I attended an entire horsemanship clinic. We've been watching videos, reading, and continuing to grow in other ways, but the immersive experience of thinking about nothing but horses for several days running it definitely a special kind of boost. When we saw Buck was going to be in South Dakota, a reasonable 10 hour drive from us and at a time of the year we could both take some time off, we decided to go audit. The clinic consisted of two classes: Foundation Horsemanship in the morning, Horsemanship II in the afternoon. This seemed perfect, as Brian and I each have a green horse we're working with, and also a more advanced one we're trying to bring along. To add to the excitement, during our drive out Brian's student, K, who's been riding with us for quite some time now and leased Aiden for a while, found a horse she was pretty interes...

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Opening Doors

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Recently Bruce Sandifer has taken to posting short videos on Facebook. These are awesome because usually he's just chatting about what's going through his head as he's working with a horse. One of my favorite things about him is he's so willing to express uncertainty, to say he's just trying something out and he doesn't know if it will work. It's always encouraging in a weird way to hear that someone who is so accomplished and has done so much with horses is still feeling his way through all this sometimes.
One day after watching one of his videos, I got on Steen. Steen has been doing better. I haven't had the same dragging feeling during our rides. He's had more consistent energy, which means our rides have been a lot more fun ag...

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Late Spring Update

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We've had a beautiful spring here in Iowa. Not much rain, quite a bit of sun, and lots of really temperate weather. April was a good month with the horses.

Loretta

I've continued to do work both with Loretta alone and with Loretta and her owner together. We are seeing a lot of really good changes. I've learned a lot about working with a horse that isn't mine. For Loretta, the breakthrough came when I worked with her three days in a row. From there, we've been making very steady forward progress. Now that Loretta has an understanding of the basic principles we're working with, it's more and more possible for her owner to be more effective with her. This past Friday, Loretta's owner couldn't make it out. I decided to just include Loretta in our day like she was one of ours. So I brought her and Steen up to the hitching post and got them ready together. Loretta was pretty g...

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Processing Loss

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Yesterday I received sad new. It wasn't unexpected, but it was hard to hear, nonetheless. My aunt, who has been sick for some time, passed away. I got the phone call in the late morning. Though I now live in Iowa, I grew up in Arizona. Most of my family is still there. My aunt had the majority of her loved ones with her in her final days. I was not among them. It is interesting how, at times, technology makes the world feel so small. Then something like this happens and the distance between West and Midwest has never seemed so vast. As soon as I set the phone down, I felt a pull to get in the car. Within half an hour of saying good-bye to my mother, I was at the barn. One other boarder saw me, and perhaps wondered about my red-rimmed eyes. She left only a few minutes after I arrived. I found myself alone with Steen. I have observed before that my horse often seems aware of th...

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All Three Gaits

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It feels like we're finally back in a good groove with the horses. Work is coming out of the first quarter crazies as well. That plus some nice weather have made it a lot easier to get out on horseback with more consistency. Last week we got out twice mid week and rode Piper and Nevada both days. This is awesome as we just need to pile the hours on both of them at this point. I gave my lesson Friday and had a brief ride on Steen. Then over the weekend we rode all four horses both days, as usual.
Things with Piper continue to go well. On Saturday I got her into the canter for the first time. It took a while of working on encouraging her to leave the trot, but once she got into it she was smooth and level and traveled nicely to the oth...

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More Loretta Time

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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My lessons with my groundwork student have continued steadily. On Sunday and today, I also worked with Loretta on my own. Loretta has a pretty bad case of heaves, so in the winter she lives alone in a dry lot. She's often skittish about being approached by people. Sunday was windy, and she got snorty and agitated the moment I approached her pen. I decided to start with some liberty work to see if I could get her to feel less threatened by my presence.
Monday - Before: Not sure if scared or interested.
Starting off, I'd ask her to go by pointing in the direction I wanted her to travel. That didn't work at first, so I'd follow up by driving with my rope. ...

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98 Hours to Go

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I love weekends. Our days go like this: We wake up naturally, and make coffee. I spend a few hours writing. We make breakfast, eat, and head to the barn. We ride two horses each, head home, have tea, and wile the afternoon away reading or doing a workout or whatever else we feel like. It's exactly what I would do with my life every day, if I could pick. This weekend was chilly, and there weren't a lot of people around the barn. We decided to switch things up and ride Steen and Laredo together, which meant having Piper and Nevada in at the same time as well. While both our girls are pretty quiet and overall fairly steady, they are also both still super green. Having a more solid horse in the arena when one of us is riding one of them is nice because it offers extra support. On the other hand, it does limit the support rider a tad. When all of our riding is constrained by our greenes...

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