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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The Full Arena

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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This morning Brian and I went to look at a house. It was a small acreage about 20 minutes outside of town. It had an indoor arena and the land was already nicely set up for horses. On paper, it looked kind of amazingly perfect for us. In person, sadly, the house was ... not somewhere we'd want to live. But the land was awesome. For a few minutes we wandered around fantasizing about having our horses in our own back yard. Because of the house visit, we were later getting to the barn than usual. Everything was quiet when we arrived, so I started with Piper. We brought her and Laredo in and turned them out in the arena. Piper is starting to get the idea that this is fun time, not scary time. Laredo was in super play mode, bouncing around and kicking up his heels. He's hilarious when he's like that. Again, I did some liberty work with Piper. Even though I hadn't done more than pet h...

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Arab Time

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Whatever evil cold Brian and I caught has proven to be very hard to kick. Last weekend neither one of us made it out to the horses at all. That's practically unheard of. But finally this week we are both feeling mostly better. We managed a solid ride on Steen and Laredo on Tuesday. Today my student, M, couldn't make it for our Friday lesson, so asked if I would spend some time working with her horse on my own. Also, our barn owner asked if we'd work with one of her horses, who has recently started to get super agitated about certain parts of the arena. So yesterday Brian and I went out and got two horses that aren't ours, both of them Arabians. Both of them were pretty snorty and stiff coming in. The horse I was working with, Loretta, is 15, and I think a lot of her world view is fairly established. Although she's not a skittish horse, she's very high strung. Just about every...

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Piper’s First Saddling

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I'm a couple weeks late with this post. On Saturday the 10th, Brian and I had the barn mostly to ourselves. I brought Piper in and we turned her and Laredo out together. They make a funny pair. Their base coat color is pretty similar. Although he's a red dun, his mane is light, though not as light as hers. He's a bit taller than she is, but mostly he's just much heavier of build. He's got a whole lot more bone, not to mention *ahem ... some excess padding at the moment. After we let the two of them do what they wanted for a few minutes, I did some liberty work with Piper again. She wasn't as quick to come to me as last time, but when she did, she seemed nicely settled. I did some groundwork with her, and she was just nailing everything. When I checked in with leading by a foot, she gave to light pressure instantly. That's several times now this little mare has made huge leaps forwa...

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Already Teaching

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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My groundwork student, M, texted me midweek to let me know her horse was in the equine hospital. I asked her what she wanted to do about her lesson, saying she was welcome to use one of our horses instead of hers if she didn't want to miss. She said what she would like most was to watch me work with Piper. So on Friday, Piper and I had an audience. I've never tried to teach through that sort of scenario before. When I first brought Piper in, there was more activity in the barn than she'd ever experienced before. There was a horse being longed, someone doing chores, and a good deal of extra foot traffic, plus heavy equipment moving around outside. At first, Piper came in very rigid and very, very distracted. It is interesting, talking to people who haven't learned to see as much about horses yet. M commented that Piper seemed very calm. And it's true, Piper, overall, is gentle and q...

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A Few Days In

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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January was so mild, it was easy to start thinking of winter as nearly over. Then February hit with a vengeance. Last weekend we got a huge snow storm, and also I finally caught the cold Brian has been battling for a week. Friday and Saturday I made it to the barn. On Friday I did a little bit of groundwork with Piper, then gave my groundwork lesson, and rode Steen. Saturday, Brian and I both went out. We brought Piper up to the grooming area and started working on teaching her to stand. She did surprisingly well with this, though at times holding still became too much for her, and we had to head back to the arena for a little more groundwork. Before my weekend work with Piper, I ended up reading two Read more