Firsts

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
When we woke up this morning, it was 30 degrees out, which is about what we've come to expect here this spring. So, I let things warm up as much as possible and was pleased to note that the sun was at least shining when I arrived at the barn.

I went to get Steen out of the pasture and again he came straight for the gate when he saw me. When I had some trouble undoing the chains, he tried to help me open them with his upper lip. While this was not effective, it was quite entertaining.

Once I got Steen out of the pasture and began leading him up to the barn, I had an epiphany. It was nice out. Granted, I was wearing at least two layers of clothing on most of my body, but the sun felt warm and pleasant and the breeze didn't have a knife edge on it. So, I decided to let Steen graze in the newly sprouted outdoor arena while I groomed him. He seemed glad of the ...

Read more

Sprung

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Today I arrived at the barn and did something I hadn't done for a while. Instead of going to Steen's stall, I went out to the mud-lot. There I found Steen, rather dirty but seeming quite at home. As soon as he saw me, he left the hay he was eating and came straight to the gate, even though the mud between the bale and the gate was deep and he clearly wasn't too excited about stepping in it. That was very nice, not only because I didn't have to get my boots dirty but also because it was more than a little gratifying on an emotional level. I thought that my relationship with Steen had improved significantly over the last few months, but it was nice to see it so obviously and immediately manifested.

I took him inside and we easily fell back into our pre-stall routine. Other than some general snortiness at the wind and some initial nervousness about the changes, he calmed ...

Read more

Grief

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
A couple of days ago a horse at my barn died of colic. This horse happened to be Steen's best buddy in the stall-horse herd. Yesterday I went out for a ride, and Steen's behavior made me wonder (as I often do) at how closely horse emotion can be related to human emotion. It is obviously clear that horses experience feelings like jealousy, curiosity, fear, and affection. Every horse I've ever interacted with has demonstrated its own complex personality. But one thing I've never much encountered is grief in horses.

I was not thinking about the deceased horse when I arrived at the barn, but shortly after bringing Steen out into the aisle I noitced he was unusually withdrawn and still, often staring blankly into the distance or into the (now empty) stall where his friend used to live. He wasn't nearly as interactive as I've come to expect in recent weeks, not as playful o...

Read more

Dumped

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Well, it happens to all of us from time to time. Yesterday, due to a string of fairly unintelligent choices on my part, I fell off my horse.

It was my first fall indoors, and I must say plopping off into the deep sand of an indoor arena is not bad at all. Also, as ever, falling off bareback is a consistently less painful experience than falling out of a saddle. Perhaps it is because the whole thing happens faster, without clinging and disentangling from stirrups, etc.

Anyway, I blame the whole thing on the spring. Had I not gotten hot, decided to take my jacket off, decided I'd rather not dismount to hang the jacket up on the rail at the edge of the arena and so attempted the maneuver bareback, I'd have never been reaching forward towards Steen's front end, my balance way off to the side and my other hand merely resting on, not even gripping, his mane when he...

Read more

Weathering the Winter

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
My barn average is definitely down the last few weeks. For one thing, I've been working a lot, and for another I've discovered that days where the high is less than 5 degrees, the trip just isn't worth it. Even going bareback doesn't help on such days. It is just too cold to be bearable, much less enjoyable.

Lately my rides have mainly been trying to focus on teaching Steen that getting ridden is no big deal. You would think he'd have figured this out by now, but he still is significantly more restless with a rider on his back than with a person standing next to him. Of course, I haven't used a saddle in months, so I am at least sure his restlessness isn't due to any fit issues. And while he is not bad, he just isn't genuinely relaxed either, and so I'm trying to do rides that mainly include non-demanding forms of walking, trotting and standing.

Of course,...

Read more

A Winter Ride: In Numbers

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
  • degrees above zero when I left the house this morning: 11
  • articles of clothing worn: 17
  • miles from my house to the barn: 15
  • other people at the barn: 0
  • horses loose in the aisle when I arrived: 1
  • seconds it took for the unheated toilet to steal all my saved body warmth: .025
  • utensils used to groom Steen: 6
  • times hands became completely numb and needed to be shoved into armpits to warm up before I could complete the grooming process: 3
  • tails skipped brushing due to extreme coldness of hands: 1
  • pieces of tack used to ride: 1
  • major arteries delightfully close to Steen's nice warm back while riding without a saddle: 2
  • minutes spent riding: 30

Steensick

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Although I spent the holidays in Tucson and did a fair bit of riding both Jak and Rojo, I have definitely noticed that working with other people's horses just isn't nearly as great as working with my own. I missed Steen actively, just about daily, the whole vacation. After about two weeks away, I was quite happy to head to the barn late this morning. In spite of quite a bit of ice around town, the road to the barn was good. I found Cathi and Teri in the barn, and Steen outside, rather upset because some improvements to the stalls meant he was getting a late breakfast. I went outside and let the herd loose, and was amused to see the orderly way everyone filed into the barn (even lining up to wait their turn to get through the door) and into their respective stalls. It never ceases to amaze me how much horses sometimes resemble children.

Steen is looking pretty good. H...

Read more

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Now that I've gotten nicely settled into my winter riding routing (going so far as to change my work schedule so I can ride 3 weekday mornings each week), we are leaving for our winter trip to AZ. I went to the barn on Wednesday, but Steen had availed himself of the thaw on Sunday to roll roll roll in the mud. So he was filthy. I spent most of my time grooming him. Then I turned him out in the indoor arena and tried to get him to move around naturally a bit, but he mostly just wanted to hang out with me. Standing in the cold stall definitely makes him stiff, so I didn't ride that day, just led him around and tried to play some games, which may or may not have been successful.

Wednesday I went out in the morning again. I had 200 lbs of grain to unload, though, and not much time, so I did a very short bareback ride. We did a lot of walking to get him limbered up, and a...

Read more

Winter at the Barn

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
It has definitely taken me a little while to adjust to riding in the winter here. I got very used to my long, leisurely trips out the barn, taking my time with grooming, groundwork, riding and then lounging outside in the green and the sun while Steen grazed. Lately, the temperatures have not been at all conducive to lounging, and after a few times getting seriously chilled while riding, I remembered what I already knew - winter and saddles just don't go together.

So, this week I developed a system. I arrive at the barn, go to my locker, grab my bridle, helmet and bucket of grooming supplies. I then take the bridle to the office and put it on the heater to warm the bit up for Steen's mouth, and then take the bucket to Steen's stall. I let my fuzzy horse out into the aisle, brush him down, pick his hooves and comb his mane and tail. Then I go back for the bit, which is ...

Read more

Holey… Horse?

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
I have been making it out to the barn more consistently again lately, though not as much as I was managing in the summer. For one thing, the cold hurts a little, and for another, vitzy's has actually kind of been booming, which is great in many ways, but does cut into my horse time.

Still, I don't feel as guilty about not showing up as much, since I know that Steen now gets personal human interaction daily, even if it is just in the form of ushering in and out of a stall and feeding.

The weight gain is going quite well. This weekend I took my future mother-in-law out for a couple of rides, and had to drop Steen's cinch down one hole on the latigo to keep the middle ring in the middle. Last week, I had to take the throat latch off his bridle and have a new hole punched because it was tight to the point that it started to pinch h...

Read more