Affirmative Training: Can You Take a Hint?

  It’s a story that I’ve heard quite a few times. You’ve heard it too. The horse was getting a little worse all the time and the rider was trying to get him fixed. When the gelding got fussy in his face, the rider tried to hold his head steady by using pressure on the … Read more

How a Legend is Born

What is it about horses? I think I might have drawn them on cave walls at the beginning of time, already a legend to deserve the honor. Horses have been with us ever since, our lives depending on them much more than they needed us. Nothing about that has changed. We are hooked and we … Read more

How to See It Like a Horse

My friend was tracing her Arabian’s family tree. She’d driven north of Denver to see her horse’s sire and ran into a pathetic spotted colt that somehow reminded her of me. I was a self-employed artist barely making my bills, my relationship was failing, and I had a list of personal quirks that were entirely … Read more

The Problem with Humility

I’ve gotten sour on a word. Why does it matter? Words are how we understand each other but some words get borrowed as code words for something else. Sometimes they turn into monsters and sometimes they get stuck between your teeth like a raspberry seed. Words impact how we feel, trickle down to how we … Read more

What Horses Want to “Talk” About.

  What is it about the snout of an old horse? Especially a pink and black muzzle? How can it seem so wise to me? Or is it that over thirty years with this horse, I finally got wise to him? I confess that I disregarded his opinion in the early days. Disregarding the opinions … Read more

Is Affirmative Training Denial?

It was during a meeting in an online class called Back in the Saddle. We’d shared videos of the week’s work, each participant moving ahead at their own pace and level, and each person paired with a unique horse with a history of his own. Some were bringing horses back from time off, some of … Read more

Calming Signals and What You Can’t Unsee.

  Here’s our barn rat. She started earlier than most. Now, she’s tall and smart and brave and what we used to call coltish. Her mom is my friend and boarder, and her little sister is extremely cool, too. Our barn rat helps with chores, does daring feats on the horse swing, and has a … Read more

Making Peace with Anxiety

A caption for this photo? “Dressage rider doesn’t grasp the fundamentals of team penning.” How about “Dressage rider brings a breath of fresh air to The Cowboy Way.” Words matter. The goal of affirmative training is to collect positive experiences for your horse. We never want to dominate or push too hard. Once the horse … Read more

What Will Happen if You Don’t Ride Today?

It’s really hot here. How hot is it? I’m not saying. People get competitive. You’d just say it’s hotter where you are and then I’d have to recite our altitude, I’m much closer to the sun. You’d have a retort and the places on my body that are clammy would only get clammier. I’d still … Read more

Calming Signals and Living on the Ulcer Continuum

Forty years ago, we didn’t know about ulcers. Some horses acted crazy and we tried to train them out of it. Colic was the number one killer of horses. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Then around thirty years ago, we began to recognize and study ulcers. Research papers came out, scopes were invented, … Read more