Hello Winter

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Well, winter has set it in earnest now. We got hit with some truly crazy cold earlier this month. Between that and coming to the end of our most active year with the horses ever, both Brian and I are finding ourselves a little less motivated to get out and ride many times a week. On top of that, Steen got a cough that had me worried for a while, so I wasn't really riding him much. It seems he has an early case of heaves. Which is a bummer. During the fall, we get a lot of crop dust in our pastures, and there is a gravel road that loops past our barn, too, that kicks up a lot of dust. There were a lot of irritants in the air for a while. A couple other horses around the barn have heaves. While the bad news is that it's not curable, the good news is it seems to be fairly easy to manage, particularly if you catch it early. He had the cough for a couple weeks before I caught on to what...

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On a Borrowed Horse

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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A couple weeks ago, I had a really interesting opportunity. Back when we had both Oliver and Aiden for sale, a woman, M, came and looked at Aiden. She had gotten excited when she saw our photos because she recognized our gear and suspected we rode in the same style she does. She has an older mare who is blind in one eye and had some hard times in terms of health before she bought her. She was looking for a younger horse. M told us she's been taking lessons with Barb Gerbitz for a year. Barb Gerbitz lives in Illinois, and she follows the same horsemanship philosophy we do. (Except she's actually a professional and is way more accomplished/experienced than we are.) M said Barb puts on clinics and does lessons around the area. She suggested we come to one some time. Seeing as how we don't have a truck...

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Hackamore Aiden

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It's a little hard to believe, but we've had Aiden for seven months now. In that time, he's transitioned from a scrawny, shaggy, wormy creature who would sooner walk over the top of you than listen to you, into a sweet, plump, soft guy who is respectful and quiet in most circumstances.
Not skinny anymore, but still intent on gaining weight.
Because of the way the number and type of horses we had over the summer played out, I've done most of the work with Aiden. Now that Oliver is gone and Brian is busy with Nevada and Laredo, this is going to continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm finding I like Aid...

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Warm October

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We've had an uncharacteristically balmy fall. While the horses did come off the pasture a couple weeks ago, we have yet to have a hard freeze. This is pretty unusual for this late in the season. I won't complain about the mild temps. Unfortunately, work always really picks up for me this time of year, too, which inevitably translates to less barn time. On top of that, Steen had a little phase where his energy level seemed low and he seemed a tad off in general. I had some blood work done on him and everything came back normal, so I'm not sure how to explain it. We also had teeth and fall vaccinations and other general 'horse maintenance' type stuff taken care of. Everyone is doing well in terms of overall health. After her recent trim, Nevada was so relaxed it was kind of comical:

Sunset Gallops

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Lately I've been having this strange experience of feeling like I only have one horse. This isn't true, of course. But we've worked out a deal with Brian's student, K, and she's riding Aiden three times a week, twice on her own, once in a lesson with Brian. This is great for her as she's wanted to get more riding in but isn't quite ready to go ahead and purchase her own horse. And really, Aiden is so solid and settled in by now, he doesn't need the kind of training or conditioning we were focused on getting him when he first arrived. So while I'm still riding Aiden once a week or so just to make sure he stays in working order for K, he's not a focus for me at this point.

Parting with Oliver

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I don't know what happened to September. One moment it was just starting. All of a sudden its nearly over. It's continued to be a good month with the horses. We have Brian's student coming out to ride Aiden a couple extra times a week on her own. They are getting along really well. Since that's been making us less keen to sell him, we decided to list Oliver for sale as well. We've never had two horses for sale at once before, and it was a bit interesting in terms of seeing who got more interest and for what reason. We had one person come look at Aiden a few weeks ago. While that seemed promising during the test ride, it didn't lead to a sale. Mid week this week we had a couple people passing through Iowa City ride both of them. They had a super ride and asked us if we'd give them a package deal, to which we said yes. We spent one strange evening thinking Oliver and Aiden might both...

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Big September

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It is September 7. So far, this month, I have spent 10.5 hours in the saddle. This is probably a new short-term record for me. I'm not sure I've ever started a month off with such a bang. Mostly, I blame the weather. It's been absolutely gorgeous out. We've had perfect temps, just enough rain to keep the grasses growing, and nights cooling down enough so the horses get a good break. This weekend, Brian and I decided to put a priority on pushing our boundaries. We ride in a lot of different places, but with riding multiple horses most barn trips now, we've gotten a bit out of the habit of going out past the immediate surroundings of the barn's arenas, pastures, and the nearby strip. This weekend we decided we'd tack on a little exploration of the waterways around nearby fields to every ride.

A Few Weeks in the Two-Rein

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We're having a really lovely late summer. Really, the whole summer has been surprisingly nice, but the last few weeks have been particularly gorgeous. Accordingly, we are logging lots and lots of barn hours. With King gone and Nevada getting a little break, Brian and I have reverted to our previous breakdown of mounts. I'm riding Steen and Aiden. He's riding Laredo and Oliver. (This choice is mostly due to the fact that my saddle fits Aiden better and his fits Oliver better.) All the horses are doing well, but the most exciting thing going on for me is that I've finally made a total transition into the two-rein with Steen. I dabbled with the set-up on and off for quite a few months, but every time I rode in it it made me aware of things that were missing or not quite right with my communication in hackamore. We'd go back to the hackamore to work on the deficiencies. Finally, ...

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Oliver, Aiden, and Playing Cow

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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A lot of the time I find it difficult to get out to the barn on Friday afternoon. After a long week, it seems easier to just stay home and read a book. When I succeed at motivating myself to get out there, I often do it by giving myself permission to just have a super easy ride on Steen. Today, though, I rode Aiden. I mostly did it because it's been a hot week and it's supposed to be a hot weekend, and Steen suffers in the heat a little. I know we'll ride all the horses both days this weekend, and I figured three consecutive rides would be more useful to put on Aiden. Brian was having similar thoughts about his string, so we ended up doing our Friday ride on Aiden and Oliver. The outdoor arena at our barn is currently undergoing some renovations. Mainly, it is being converted from grass to sand/dirt. This is nice as it was not mowed regularly before, and the grass was patchy and...

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King Goes Home

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It's hard to believe the way the summer has flown by. Our two months with King ran out on Saturday, and his people came and picked him up. Working with King was a very interesting experience. In recent years, we've been working almost entirely with stock horses. In the past I spent quite a bit of time with Arabians and a mustang and a few other high spirited horses, but I'd never worked with a horse of a cooler tempered breed. King, being half Fresian, half Tennessee Walker, was different both physically and mentally than the horses I've grown most used to. While he doesn't have any bonafied Walker gaits, his locomotion is not like a stock horse's. His hind end is on the scrawny side while his front end is huge and stocky. His neck is big and powerful. His head is massive. This combination makes him really, really inclined to be heavy on the forehand.