Human Calming Signals: I Want my Horse to be Fearless.

  So, you want a horse that doesn’t spook? Don’t we all? Great, you wanna look for something over 25 years old. Not a bad idea to plug cotton in his ears and put blinders on his bridle. Not what you had in mind? Then a railbird has a suggestion. “You know horses can read … Read more

A Message from Heaven (for my professional friends)

I am a woman who possesses an interesting range of enviable skills. Getting surgery is not on the list. One month ago, I broke my wrist. Later, an old friend said she thought with all I did, my bones would be strong. I told her they were. I had to use my full body weight … Read more

Training Tip: Improving Your Eye

Sometimes we look back at how we kept horses as kids, and it seemed so simple then. None of them had any of the complex problems that we deal with today. But it isn’t possible that all of these issues materialized after I got my first horse after leaving home. Horses didn’t wait to invent … Read more

Affirmative Training is Fine, But What-if…

  A few years back, a pretty well-known trainer made a statement about using force with horses. Flat out, the craziest thing I’d ever heard. The short version was if you wanted to lollygag around your pasture, and ride like a girl, fine… but if you competed, you had to win and that meant dominating … Read more

Calming Signals: What Are You Really Afraid Of?

What are you afraid of? Maybe this question. Take a breath and check your shoulders. Are they down where they belong? Move your jaw and tilt your head. Walk an arc. It’s OK, give yourself any calming signal you want. It’s how horses and humans self-soothe and return to the present. Now, can we have … Read more

Nube: We Cheat at Trailer Training

Nube was a beanpole of a yearling. If he and Ernest weren’t trying to get me bucked off a horse… if he wasn’t eating his body weight in hay every hour… if he wasn’t listening to the Grandfather Horse tell stories about me… if he wasn’t sleeping with donkeys… sometimes Nube came to work with … Read more

1,354th Friday Morning and Not Bucked Off

  No, I’m not dreaming of a career as a hand model. My hands have looked like an elderly mechanic’s since I was a Goldsmith in my 20s. Scars, big joints, and apparently, the drought here includes hand lotion. It’s just that they told me in the emergency room to keep an eye on my … Read more

Worried About Everything? Protection From the Unexpected

“Want to go on a trail ride with me? The last time I was out, my friend’s horse slid into a ravine and broke her wrist. Bring a helmet, okay? Have you checked your girth lately? They wear out and mine is frayed but it’s fine. I know three horses who have died by lightning … Read more

Nube: An Iberian Stall Toy for the Donkeys

In the first months after coming to our farm, it was a simple schedule for Nube:  wrestle, eat, sleep, repeat. The horses were kind, but it was mutually agreed they could do without Nube’s adolescent fart games.  It was great news because fart games are the bread and butter of donkey life. I’d given the … Read more

How to Measure the Heart of a Horse

Have you experienced this? Someone says something that is a throw-away comment, not meant to be anything, they toss it not intending any harm. I mean it, kind people having a thoughtful conversation, and one of them says the new horse is close to perfect and she likes him a lot, but she somehow does … Read more

“How do I stop my horse from doing this?”

“How do I stop my horse from doing this?” An oversimplified version of the most common question a horse trainer is asked. The question comes with a backstory, a theory, and a recitation of everything they have tried. The first resistance is small, we might think it’s a cute affectation even, but if we don’t … Read more

Letting Go of Shame and Blame. Do It for Your Horse.

How many times a week do I tell a client some version of “When we know better, we do better”? It’s a Maya Angelou quote, we all know it. It has no big words, we understand it. And yet we cling to the past. We smear shame, guilt, and remorse all over ourselves as if … Read more

Nube: When He Came Home

I was forty-nine years old with gray hair, calloused banged-up fingers, and chronic lameness in my left foot. He was two months old, brave, sensitive, and wildly athletic. He cantered at liberty throwing flying changes for the fun of it. I loved dressage, especially riding changes that skipped with energy and lightness. We were the … Read more

What To Do When You’ve Tried Everything

“I tried everything,” my client says. This isn’t something that I hear once in a long while. It’s a time-honored tradition, consistently stated. Sometimes, there is a time deadline but mostly it happens on an ordinary day. My client says it, so I’ll know what they have been thorough before contacting me. It’s implied, almost … Read more

Problem Solved: Space to Breathe.

I’m walking next to you and I’m talking loudly. I am so close that you feel the heat of my words on your skin. My right shoulder is pressed into yours and I have hold of your face. There’s a stick in my other hand. I am not walking evenly, one stride longer than the … Read more

Nube: How We Met

I was forty- nine years old, and my upcoming birthday was hanging in the air like a pair of stretched-out waist-high cotton underwear. My Grandfather Horse was on stall rest with a career-ending injury, never to be rideable again. At least my other horse, Dodger, was sound and fifteen. I didn’t know I’d lose him … Read more

Affirmative Training: The Opposite of Dominance Isn’t What You’d Think

Sitting in a horse pen is the easiest thing in the world. I might even like to cook if I could do it in a horse pen. I am dead certain a root canal would be better out there. We all love the sound of hay being chewed and we even like the sound of … Read more

Calming Signals: Adjusting the Volume of Quiet

It’s been quiet here. Winter is good for that and we haven’t had a day above freezing in a while. Fewer people are out driving and no tractors or lawnmowers are chewing things up. It’s too cold for the dogs to supervise from the yard. They are literary dogs anyway, much happier sleeping on dog … Read more