And Then There Were Six

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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When we originally started talking about Brian getting a young horse, we thought we'd do it in the fall -- after we'd found either Aiden or Oliver (or both) new homes. But then we found a horse we really wanted. So we bought her and thought we'd just leave her with the breeder until the fall. Except then King arrived, and having five horses is kind of awkward for two people. A few other things happened too, and it got to the point that it just made sense to bring Brian's new filly, Nevada, home. She arrived on Thursday, and her introduction to the herd went well. As usual, Jester the Shetland Pony adopted her immediately. It's nice that he's always so keen to show new horses the ropes.
So, we had a lot to do this weekend. I've be...

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Hello to King

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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A few weeks ago, we went to visit Bear at the therapeutic riding center. We found him hanging out in a pasture with a horse named King, who we were told was often kept with only one or two companions because he had a tendency to run the show in a herd environment. Being the curious people we are, we asked more questions about King. We learned he is 10 years old, which made him the youngest horse with the program. He was also the only horse on the premises they don't actually use for classes. Reason being, he's reputedly a bit hard to handle. I approached King, and he was happy enough to accept some pets. I asked about his breeding, and we learned he's half Fresian, half Tennessee Walker. We learned a little about how he'd ended up there, but soon enough the conversation moved to other things. King did come up between Brian and I once or twice in the following days. We talked ...

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The First 100

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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2014 is the 4th year I've kept track of how much time I spend riding. In retrospect, I rather wish I'd kept records when I was younger. I've been riding for about 22 years. It was just weekly lessons until I got my first horse in 1994. After that, I definitely rode a lot. What I don't know is how much 'a lot' really was to me back then. However, my unscientific memory notwithstanding, I believe I can safely say I'm riding more now than I ever have before. Maybe even a lot more. And, sheer hours aside, I am definitely getting more done with horses than I ever have in the past. What's interesting is how what feels normal can change. In 2011, my goal was to spend 100 hours horseback. That year I logged 109 hours. It was a stretch, and I was thrilled. This year, I'm already at 101. Here's how those hours break down across horses:

Writing the Letter ‘A’

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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I had a pretty interesting lesson with my student last week. J is making great progress lately. She's clicking well with Laredo, and also she's now been riding with me long enough that at least a percentage of what we do has become habitual. This means we're able to leave some of the basics and work on some new things lately. Last week, I decided to reintroduce working a horse in a circle on the ground. I had tried this with J quite some time ago, but it had not gone well. I'd put it aside and focused instead on just teaching J to ask for the front and hind separately, back the horse out of her space, and (of course) lead with quality. Those things were challenge enough to start with. But I thought we were ready to move back to circles, so I did my demonstration. With Steen standing in front of me, I held my get-down in my hand and pointed. He stepped over and away from me, to b...

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Sick Week

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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It figures that just as the weather turns awesome I would catch a cold. I spent the week pretty much not functional. On Friday, I finally dragged myself out to the barn and rode Steen during Brian's lesson. Which mostly means I sat there watching while Brian taught.
Brian's student, K, rode Oliver. We thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how he did with someone who is more of a beginner. Brian's student is one of the gentlest, softest people I have ever seen on a horse -- to the point that sometimes he has to tell her repeatedly that she needs to come in a little more firmly. And she's usually riding Steen, who is one of the most responsive horses around. Oliver is also super soft, so it seemed li...

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More Youngsters

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We spent Saturday with more young ones - this time of the human variety. Brian's sister came to visit, bringing along her husband and their two children. Their son is three and a half, and their daughter is just one. We, of course, had to take them out to meet the horses. We had beautiful weather, and the horses were out on the grass. Steen and Laredo were happy to come in and get some extra attention. It's funny. With Bear gone and Steen coming 14 this year, he's starting to seem like the old guy of the group. Fortunately, he and Laredo are both quiet enough to be very safe around the kiddos. We said hi to Oliver and Aiden in the pasture, but we didn't bring them in.
The pony rides went well. I rode around with Gaby in front ...

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Another Girl

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Today, we bought a horse. Yes. Another one. It was kind of an accident. The plan was to just go visit the breeder we got Laredo from, and see what he had in terms of unstarted two-years-olds. The plan was we'd look them over and hang out with them a little, and then maybe go back in the fall and pick one out. I guess we should have known better. Things did not go according to plan. This morning we purchased this little girl:
When we sent Bear to Miracles in Motion, we thought Brian might click with either Oliver or Aiden and take one of them into the role of his primary horse. But while they're both really super ni...

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The Summer Groove

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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Summer seems to be finally here in earnest. I got out to the barn multiple times during the week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.) Which was good because it means Aiden didn't get the whole week off.
 No, of course I am not looking at my phone while sitting on a horse I've owned less than two months with the reins draped over the horn. Who would do such a thing?
This weekend we rode all our horses both days. Saturday I had a really great ride on Aiden. We went out to the tree pasture for the first time. Brian and I have been watching a video series produced by the Eclectic Horseman called Read more

A Good Gallop

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We spent the weekend out of town. We went with Brian's fabulous parents to the Kentucky Derby. In spite of the rather mixed feelings I have about the horse racing industry, it was definitely a fun weekend. Today, I headed out to the barn alone in the afternoon. I found a very filthy Steen.  His feet were basically pure mud blocks. I spent a long time grooming him, and had to spray his legs off with the hose to even get him passably clean. I was pretty tired, and wasn't sure I had the mental focus to work on anything super demanding and specific. So I took Steen out into the big pasture and we just moved around a lot. We trotted and cantered all over the hills and along the fencelines. I worked on an exercise Martin Black likes, which is basically just cantering in a really big circle while trying to keep the horse's nose tipped in and their back and jaw soft. Steen was in a r...

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My Summer String

Novels for Horse-Lovers

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

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We've been in a pretty good rhythm with the horses. Work's been busy for me, so I haven't been getting out a lot during the week, but we've been getting really great weekend rides. I've been focusing on Steen and Aiden. Aiden seems sound now, so I've been working on just getting into a good groove with the basics. He continues to be super friendly, and every ride we have a few more things working for us. I'm getting more and more comfortable on him.
Today, I felt like I finally had the back end totally in hand for the first time. It's taken some work with both Aiden and Oliver to get them consistently stepping under behind without dribbling forward or squirting to the side. Today I managed to get Aiden to step over behind without ...

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