When Nice People Carry Whips.

“I just carry the whip. I don’t use it.” “I do liberty with my horse, it’s just an extension of my arm.” “I only hold one, it’s just part of the outfit.” “I would never hurt my horse.” Other riders see carrying a whip as an evil thing. A sign of human cruelty. Fine, claim … Read more

The Thing About Donkeys

      I wrote about mares and the response was so huge that I felt guilty and wrote about geldings. Since then, the requests have been about donkeys, but I’m more thoughtful. Because donkeys require consideration. Because I’m bluntly defensive of donkeys. The sunflower cart photo is of me and my first rescue, Ernest. … Read more

How to Have a Conversation with Someone Who Doesn’t Talk

People talk to horses constantly. The words are unintelligible most of the time, to both us and the horse, but we chatter away, explaining what we are doing as we do it. “Now we’ll clean your feet.” Sometimes we are so uncomfortable with the quiet that we fill in their half of the conversation, too. … Read more

Calming Signals: Trust Above Training

It was my job to haul him to his new trainer. He was a bright young gelding, some would call him hot, as if having too much anxiety was just how some horses are naturally. I’d call him low on confidence, not a crime in a young horse. He pranced a bit on the lead, … Read more

Calming Signals: Do You Tease Your Horse?

There was a time that I had a basset hound named Agatha and a bunch of friends with toddlers. It was hell. See it from Agatha’s side. Toddlers are short and take uneven steps, moving more like a prey animal than a human. A tipsy bunny. And they are sticky-sweet, sometimes wearing a soiled diaper. … Read more

Aggressive or Assertive?

She was a breathtaking draft-cross mare who I met at Duchess Sanctuary this year. There was just a presence about her that made it impossible to look away. She came up for a closer look but didn’t pander. Standing her ground, there was nothing she wanted from me and I asked nothing of her. I … Read more

Fear, Shame, and Affirmative Training

  This is a photo of when you first fell in love with horses. Maybe you dreamed it and it took another fifty years to come true, or maybe you’ve had a horse every day since then. This is also a photo of the first time a horse frightened you a bit. Those two experiences … Read more

Be-Here-Now: Focus on Safety (Helmets and Response Time)

  You’re standing in a tennis court just behind the baseline, being mildly uncomfortable in your tennis togs because the glare off your legs, like any good horsewoman’s, is near blinding. Right about then, a bullet whizzes by your ear. You know it was a tennis ball, point to the server. Taking a few strides … Read more

The Thing About Geldings

I’m the sort of horse-person who hears about a castration and pops a cork for a toast all around. I celebrate the gelding, both the verb and the noun. I’ve known some great stallions, but it can be a hard lifestyle in this country. My home barn is filled with a majority of geldings, mine … Read more

Be-Here-Now: Focus on the Task

Does your horse get restless or bored when standing with you? Does he pull the rope, trying to graze when you are busy? Am I going to blame you for that, too? I was asked to share a pet peeve, which seems like inviting a donkey to a dinner party, but I’ll try to keep … Read more