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

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

Distraction: A Simple Answer for Bright Shiny Things

  Is your horse distracted? Is he always swinging his head at every noise? Does he knock you with his shoulder or just stop and freeze? Now people are coming. What will they think seeing you standing flat-footed with your horse looking like he might spontaneously combust? Maybe you jangle the rope; did you read … 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

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

Affirmative Training and the Rhythm Method

Remember when you first heard the term The Rhythm Method? I was almost certain it had to do with something bad and music. I was a virgin then, but I was confused about what that word meant as well, because, well, Virgin Mary. Eventually, I found out The Rhythm Method was actually something you don’t … Read more

A Funny Thing Happened During the Euthanasia.

We’ve been having llama line dances here for over twenty years. It happens at dusk and it is boundingly beautiful. The llamas and I have hiked the trails, ground driven in harness, and competed at Llama Agility. Then we turned around and the llamas were the favorite “obstacle” when we did horse agility here on … Read more

Things My Dogs Don’t Care About.

I’m the kind of person who has big dogs. I always have been, not that my dogs care. I have no excuse for my current condition. I was trying to remember the last time I picked out a dog. That’s the thing about making friends with rescuers. Dogs just arrive somehow. Sure, you said yes … Read more