Mental Maturity in Horses

I’ve never been good at remembering dates, so sometimes I measure my time with horses by when I learned things. Was it when I was still clipping whiskers for shows because we were all told to. Was it when I kept my horses in stalls for my convenience? Was it before I knew about ulcers? … Read more

Unwanted Favors: What’s the Affirmative Response to “No”?

Last month, we were in Texas and I’m still thinking about a near-altercation between two dog owners. I was one of them. And since I’m still thinking about it, I will exorcise it the only way I know. Here goes: Mister Dog and I had been driving all day. We finally got the Rollin’ Rancho … Read more

Why “Ride ’em Through It” Is a Bad Idea

“Sure, your horse is tossing his head and wringing his tail, but you push him on. More leg. Ride ’em through it. More leg!” Or “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Or maybe something simple like, “Ask your horse to walk out.” It could be a trainer saying it, maybe it’s … Read more

What’s Love Got To Do With It? [Horse Version]

We love horses. We love to say it loud and proud. We love the ones we grew up with and the ones in stories that we only dreamed of. Famous horses, of course, but we love the ones our friends own and the ones we drive by. We love them when they are alive and … Read more

A Training Question About Hurrying Horses …and a Grass Fire

I see people in the grocery store thoughtfully reading labels and pondering choices. The Dude Rancher and I look like game show contestants for speed shopping. We buy the same things every week and tag-team the aisles, scurrying down some and skipping others. We always get fresh berries and never any chips. Get the ice … Read more

“Why is Everything With Horses So Hard?”

“Can Competition Horses be Trained Affirmatively?” she asked. I know why she asks. This rider has been trained to think that it’s hard to be good enough, that the work is hard so you have to ask your horse in ways that are hard. She has seen trainers claim that force is justifiable to win, … Read more

The Simple Truth About Complicated Training

It was back around the time the light bulb was invented. My Grandfather Horse was a lanky spooky colt, I was still biting my lip instead of breathing, and my mentor put a western saddle on her stallion and attached her tackle box and pole to go fishing, (but the same thing might happen if … Read more

Affirmative Training: Response Time and a Hail Mary Pass

My client and I were having an online meeting. We’d been working on a systematic process of getting her and Bradley, her gelding, back to riding. It’s a process that I’ve developed that has space for horses and riders to be individuals, and more than traditional training, we focus on listening to calming signals and … Read more

Calming Signals: They Call Me Mister Dog!!!

Sidney Poitier died this year and I mourn him. I was not the only girl who swooned over him in To Sir With Love but the performance that galvanized my opinion of him was In the Heat of the Night, with his famous line, “They Call Me Mister Tibbs!” Impossibly, I was watching it with … Read more

Being the Railbird: Anniversary Edition

A reader gave me a writing assignment. She asked me to write something from the perspective of a railbird. This won’t be fiction. I was at the National Western Stock Show. It would take me two more years to get there with a horse but showing was the dream since I was a kid. Over … Read more