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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Soggy Ground

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We've been getting more rain here. Unfortunately, rain means a soggy outdoor arena, and to preserve the grass out there, barn rules tell us to ride indoors when it is wet. I left work on Wednesday feeling a little bummed about this. The indoor arena is not bad - it is just smaller, dustier, less scenic and less... outside. However, during my drive I came up with a way to make it less boring. When I got to the barn, I brushed Steen, picked his feet, and led him into the arena. After a bit of ground-work, I put his bridle on, and hopped on bareback.

I hadn't ridden bareback in quite a while, and so it was a very nice change. The one thing I still haven't managed to recreate here in Iowa is the freedom of riding I used to enjoy in Tucson. Wednesday's ride wasn't quite as good as heading out my parent's gate to enjoy the wealth of trails at my immediate disposal, but i...

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Friday Evening at the Barn

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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After we both spent the day at work, Brian and I decided to head out the barn for a little evening ride. Due to Steen's continued shoulder infection, I have been out to treat it every day this week, and since I've been out there every day anyway, why not ride, right? The result of a whole week of daily work has definitely made a change in Steen. He is completely mellow on all the ground and grooming stuff now, and he has made definite progress relaxing under saddle. I have been making a point not to ask too much of him when I'm riding so he can be less nervous, and also to spend more time on his back doing various silly things while he stands still to help him learn he doesn't always have to move his feet. Read more

Grain, Clover, Trims, Wormings and Rides

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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On Saturday I picked up some grain on my way to the barn so I can start feeding some to Steen in hopes of helping him bulk up just a little more before it starts to get cold. Steen seems pretty happy about this decision too. I arrived at the stable with my spoils, fetched Steen from the pasture, got him inside and immediately started to worry. He's been intermittently doing this thing where he'll just spit out huge mouthfuls of water, or drool like a bloodhound. On Saturday, the quantity of water coming from his mouth was so great that it alarmed me considerably, and I started to envision terrible scenarios involving extreme dehydration...

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