Grounded

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Today I decided not to ride, but to take Steen to the outdoor arena and do some of the ground-work exercises I had so much success with before in the indoor arena. I think we had a very productive session. Although he started out agitated just like yesterday, after a while he achieved at least an intermittent state of relaxation. We worked on walking, trotting, stopping, standing, backing, and a little bit of tying too. I had a nice time, and he seemed to as well.

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Changes, Small and Large

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Yesterday I fetched Steen from the new pasture. He seemed very happy and relaxed when I walked up, not grazing, just standing there in knee-high grass. He didn't make any fuss about following me in. I have figured out in the last week or so that part of his occasional balkiness had to do with the muddy down-ward slope he was often standing at the top of (the day the herd stampeded towards me I observed they all took the long way around to avoid the area Steen never wanted to follow me through.) Between the nice, level, dry and much shorter path to the barn and the fact that Jimmy can now go in the side pasture instead of the area that adjoins the barn and thus isn't a stressful barrier between us and the aisle, we made it to the barn with Steen in a calmer state than he's ever been before. This reflected in his willingness to stand better while I groomed and tacked him up.
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The Evening Scene

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Yesterday I had a very busy day. I left home around 6:30 to cover the morning feed at the stable where I work, which I'd never done before so it was slow and included several moments of irritation. Then I returned to the house, changed quickly and left again to work at the gallery until 4:00. After that I came home and had tea with Brian, then headed out to the stable where I keep Steen around 5:20.

I have already observed that the later I am there, the higher my chances are of running into the other boarders. When I arrived, Heather (a girl about my age who does saddle-seat) was in the barn talking to Cathi (the woman who owns the place). I said hello, and was immediately greeted and regaled with some funny barn stories and offered a beer (which I declined).

Then I went and got Steen. He was very fidgety and very muddy, so grooming was not the greatest e...

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Three

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Today Brian came with to the stable to hang out with Steen some more. He practiced leading Steen around the arena at both the walk and trot. They both did quite well, and it was very fun to get to stand back and watch Steen move. He's just so pretty. Well, let's be honest, they both are. ;)

Then we tacked Steen up and I rode for a short while, working on walk, trot and another short lope. Then Brian and Steen did a few more turns on foot, and we called it a day.

Steen certainly does seem to like Brian a lot, so hopefully before long Brian will be riding him too.

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A Lope

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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The weather forecast predicted rain in the afternoon, so I headed for the stable this morning. Naturally, it started raining when I was about a quarter of a mile away. Luckily, this doesn't matter since I can do everything I need to do inside, including riding, though I really hope to start using the outdoor arena soon.

Things definitely didn't go as well today as they have been as far as standing quietly goes. We had a very scary trip to the barn owing to the dog that is tied up by the door we usually go in and out of and the gigantic thoroughbred that is now pastured up against the barn. I'm not sure if those few minutes of stress were the whole cause of the problem or if the day off caused some back-sliding, but Steen was more inclined to pull his restless stunts today than he has been in a while. So, I spent quite a while intermittently grooming and then taking a ...

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Leaps and Bounds

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Fortunately, only figurative ones.

Yesterday was another good ride. I went out in the morning before work and Steen was still mostly clean in the spots I'd manged to get mud-free yesterday, so grooming wasn't too much of a challenge. I tacked him up but left the bridle off this time and attached my 12 extra feet of rope to his rope-halter to use as reins. Then went to the arena. As I suspected, he was significantly more responsive without the bit in his mouth - much more willing to stop and generally more relaxed. So, clearly I need a new bit and headstall combination for him. For now, I can just ride him in the rope-halter, but that's not a permanent solution if trail-riding in unknown territory is in my future.

The ride was good - we did a lot more trotting and worked one the idea that the trot is the same speed even if we are in one of the "scary" parts ...

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Trots

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Today when I arrived at the barn there was someone else riding in the arena. Of course, other people who board there have every right to ride in the arena, but this meant I couldn't tack Steen up in the corner like I've been doing. So, instead I took him to the area near the tack-room that has cross-ties, where most people groom and tack up their horses. I clipped Steen's halter to only one of the cross-ties, which is made out of a very heavy-duty elastic, and proceeded to groom him. This went well, because when he pulled on the cross-tie the elastic just stretched out for a while before growing taut. This seemed to calm him rather than making him think, "Oh my god, I'm tied up."

He was very muddy, as we've had more rain, so grooming took a long time, but he didn't get too fidgety, stood calmly for the saddle, accepted the bit without comment and then followed me to th...

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Tuesday Blues

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It's a beautiful Tuesday, but I had to spend the afternoon with horses other than Steen - the ones I get paid to hang out with. It probably doesn't hurt to give him a day off now and then anyway...

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Giddy Up

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Today when I got to the barn I put my saddle and pad in the arena near where I've been working on teaching Steen to stand, telling myself that whether or not I used them today, he needed to get used to having them around. Then I went out to the pasture to get my horse. He was off on the other side of the field again, but when I looked up from unlatching the gate I saw him and a number of other horses were moving towards me. Then the rest of the herd started in my direction as well, and then one who had almost gotten left behind started trotting after the rest, which made the ones in front start to lope and the next thing I knew the entire herd came stampeding to the gate, Steen among them. So, I'm not sure if Steen initiated the movement or not, but it was nice not to have to go get him.

I put Steen's halter on and led him to the barn. He only paused once in the "probl...

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One Step Forward

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

Tipped Z - 3 Covers Learn More
Today, I will admit, I didn't entirely feel like going out to the stable. I was a bit groggy this afternoon and more interested in a nap then two 20 minute drives sandwiched around a frustrating session with a poorly behaved horse. But, I know the more time I can spend with Steen right now the better, so I roused myself and headed out.

The horses were in a grassy pasture again. Steen watched me as I approached, but didn't come to the gate for me. I had to go to him. He didn't make any attempt to get away once I reached him, and willingly let me halter him. Then, however, after following me a few steps back towards the barn, he didn't want to go any further.

Well, I've been reading a lot about natural horsemanship lately, and have come to the conclusion that there is a little bit of a paradox involved in the whole philosophy. On the one hand, they stress do...

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