A Week Off

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It hasn't been the greatest stretch as far as me getting to the barn goes. Last Wednesday Jesse and I went out again, but it was pouring down rain, Steen was really wet and really muddy, and the (new and scary) sound of the downpour on the aluminum roof of the indoor arena had him a little worked up - so all we did was groundwork.

After that we got more rain, and then went to Chicago for the weekend, then I caught a cold and so didn't manage to return to the barn until yesterday.

Immediately upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised by three things. First, the outdoor arena was dry enough to ride in. Second, once I reached the mud-lot (the horses are now confined away from the nice pastures for the winter so we can have good grass again in the spring), I saw that Steen had a place around one of the big round-bale feeders, and was calmly eating among eight or so...

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Time Off

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I was out of town for a few days, so after a brief bareback ride on muddy, wet Thursday during which Steen was so relaxed it was almost comical, he got a number of days off.

Tuesday found me back at the barn with my visiting brother in tow. We went down to the pasture and Steen was so happy to see me he actually came a significant distance, around several obstacles and other horses, to say hi. That was gratifying. What's not so gratifying is he seems to have picked up some sort of eye infection in my absence, and had lots of goobers streaked down his face. Other than that, he seemed pretty much his usual self, though even fuzzier than when I left.

We took him inside and he was quite good through the grooming experience. In the indoor arena, we started with groundwork and he was extremely responsive and focused at first. But then some of the barn horses got ...

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Railing

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Monday I went to the barn for a morning ride. As usual, I had the place to myself. Steen and I worked outdoors, since he's been relaxed again lately and I want to ride outside all I can while the weather holds. It was a good ride, though I am starting to demand a little more from Steen, now that he is clearly settling in and furnished with a good understanding of the basics. We warmed up with walking on the rail and cruising, and then upgraded to trotting on the rail. Steen is, and always has been, remarkably bad at this, and in earlier days trying to keep him close all the time (he just has certain areas he'd rather avoid) got him so worked up, it wasn't worth it. But now that his bit fits, his teeth are smooth, and he's not as anxious, I decided it's high time for him to master this very basic proponent of riding. So, we did follow-the-rail at the trot, Clinton Anderson style...

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Farrier/Potluck

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Yesterday the farrier came to the barn to work on feet, and a boarder's son turned two, so we had a grand old foot-trimmin', food-eatin' get-together. I was a little worried that Steen's ruffled nerves over the vet visit would affect his behavior with the farrier since such care-givers operate in the same part of the barn, which is not the part we usually use. But, I needn't have worried. Steen was extremely good, not only standing patiently tied up (sometimes unattended) while we waited for our turn, but never once seeming nervous or feisty while standing for the farrier. Afterwards, I rode him in the indoor arena and he was absolutely perfect. He was relaxed, responsive and focused, in spite of all the activity and commotion in the barn. Of course, it was rather warm yesterday, and there were plenty of other horses around the whole time. Heat does tend to make him sluggish, a...

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Backwards and Forwards

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Although Steen has certainly had his teeth floated before, it seems the experience this time left him slightly traumatized. I didn't really anticipate this, which was perhaps silly of me, but I guess I was so charmed by his perfect behavior for Dutch and Cathy, it didn't even occur to me that the day after getting his teeth worked on might not be the most auspicious option for Brian's first solo ride. I did warn Brian that Steen's mouth might be a tad tender, so to minimize use of the bit, but I provided no forewarning that Steen might be nervous in general, but he was.

So, poor Brian didn't have the greatest experience. Steen was nervous and spooky and not very inclined to listen to Brian, who persevered and got him all groomed and tacked up, but then couldn't get him to hold still after mounting long enough to get his feet in the stirrups. So he got off and did more ...

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Visits, Rides and Vets

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Last week wrapped up with some exciting goings on for Steen. I rode again Thursday morning, outdoors with a saddle. It was a very crisp morning, and there was a good deal of activity around the barn. Steen, however, was perfectly well-behaved, jogging nice and slow on a loose rein the whole time. After our usual warm-ups I worked on the exercise that is supposed to help with his focus and his woah (choose a fence-post, trot to it, don't let the horse turn so it has to stop in front of the fence-post). He didn't really like that at all, but did seem to get more used to it after a little while. I think he's feeling pretty content in his routine right now, which doesn't demand much from him other than relax, hold a gait, and stop when I say. I'm feeling like we're ready to go to the next level, so we'll see how he does as I introduce some more complicated ideas.

However...

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Fall Rides

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
I've gotten in a few good rides this last week or so. Last Friday, Brian and I went to the barn in the evening. Brian is becoming more and more confident around the horses, and I think will soon start going out to ride on his own on Tuesdays and other days I don't have time, which will be good for both him and Steen. Anyway, on Friday everything went very well. Brian did a lot of trotting, and Steen was pretty much relaxed the entire time, with Brian looking very solid in the saddle. After Brian rode, I hopped on for a little while. I loped a bit, and got the most consistent, balanced lope I've ever achieved on Steen. So that was pretty fun. The ride over, we hung out in the outdoor arena, letting Steen graze while we groomed him. The grain I added to his diet is starting to show, and he is losing his too-thin look, which is a big relief. He's also going to get his teeth floa...

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Catch-Up

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Last week was a sparse one as far as horse-time goes, but my mom did get to come out to meet and ride Steen, so that was excellent. They seemed to get along well.


After my week of traveling, visitors, extra-long hours at the gallery and some impromptu night-time socializing, I threw a sleepless night into the mix for good measure. So, when I finally dragged myself out to the barn Saturday afternoon I was feeling pretty worn out. That, combined with the fact that I hadn't even seen Steen since Monday led me to decide to spend the day on groundwork instead of riding. And it was great fun. I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of groundwork. As Steen learns the exercises better, he can do them faster with subtler cues. He pays such good attention to me when we are working, and seems to really have fun waiting to see what I am going to tell him to do next, and tryin...

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More Bareback

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Since the ground was still rather damp today, I went bareback and indoors again. This time I was not alone in the arena, but shared it with another horse and rider. It is always nice when this happens because it is good practice for Steen in the art of paying attention to me when there are other, potentially rather more interesting goings on to pay attention to. As usual, we started out with some ground work, and then we started the ride. We did a lot of walk and trot, and he was trotting in a very relaxed manner right from the start, which was nice. Then the other horse got a different rider, who somehow made the other horse rather agitated. The other horse commenced to do things like lope sideways (very slowly, as he's been trained hard-core western pleasure) and back up for long stretches in spite of the riders efforts to make him go forwards. This horse's agitation was soon ...

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