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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Don’t Go on a Diet

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I recently read an article that advised readers not to diet. The piece argued that while most diets work in the short term, people who lose weight typically fail to keep it off for more than three years. The article cited studies that suggest gaining and losing weight is more harmful than just being overweight in the first place. The take-home message was to avoid dieting altogether. This strikes me as good advice at the core, but horrible advice on the surface. And the problem is all in the way the word "diet" is treated. What's funny is it's impossible to be alive without being on a diet. The term is simply a blanket way of speaking about the things we eat, or don't eat. The ...

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Rides Three and Four

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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All the horses got trimmed before we left for Texas, and our farrier confirmed what I thought - that Piper has really nice feet. She also behaved well for him, which was awesome because she was pretty uncertain with her feet when she came to us. I had worked on it a lot, but I wasn't sure she'd be totally cool with the trim. She was tense at first and got a little wobbly a couple of times, but I just kept petting her neck when she was still, and applying super tiny blocks to the halter when she started to teeter. She never tried to take a foot away. By the last foot, she was relaxed. On Friday after she had a week off due to our travels, I did a lot of groundwork with Piper in the outdoor arena. It was a new environment for us, and I pushed her a little harder than I have before. One thing I was thinking after the Buck clinic is while you don't want to deliberately trouble a horse,...

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Texas and Buck Brannaman and Springtime

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Last Saturday, Brian and I drove to Texas. His parents have moved to the Dallas area, and it was high time we got down there to visit. While this did mean we were away from our horses for a while, happily Buck was nearby. On Monday, we kidnapped Brian's mother and all of us audited a day of his Horsemanship II class in Farmersville, Texas. It had been a while since we'd seen Buck in person. It was massively educational, as always. Unfortunately Buck was riding in shade while we were sitting in sun, and was always pretty far away. And I only had my phone. So I didn't get any good photos.
I got a lot of other good stuff, though. While a lot of what we hear at clinics is repetition at this point, there are ...

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In the Snaffle

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Although in general I'm finding myself feeling an increasing preference for the hackamore, I decided to start Piper in the snaffle. My main reason for this is I don't know how long we'll keep her. From a versatility perspective, the snaffle is more practical. Also, since we're not thinking of her as a horse we will keep permanently, the extra time it takes to train a horse when they're started in the hackamore was a consideration. I decided this a while ago, but it wasn't until today that I actually put a bit in Piper's mouth for the first time. I did this after we'd already done a lot of groundwork, and I'd climbed into the saddle once but hadn't asked her to go anywhere. Piper took the bit easily enough. Then she did the thing all horses do when they feel a bit for the first time. She spent quite a few minutes trying to drop it out of her mouth. I waited until she got used to ...

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Started

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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In spite of having a pretty lame February in terms of getting out to the barn, I did, at least, accomplish one good thing recently. Namely, on Sunday, I got on Piper's back for the first time. Things with Piper have been going incredibly smoothly. She is a super fast learner. I don't know if it's her or me, or if we are just kind of a good combination, but it seems like all it takes is one lesson, and then she knows something. On Saturday I tied and tacked her up by the lockers for the first time, and although she does tend to want to follow me off when I leave her, she's starting to get the idea about standing tied. Last weekend when I turned her out with the saddle, I drove her around until she got into a canter. That day she finally did some bucks and hops to explore if she could get the saddle off. I was actually glad to see that. It seems like I'd rather have a horse come u...

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