What is an Ethical Ride?

  We are great horse owners. We love our horses. Some of us compete and some stroll around the pasture, but we’ll own these horses all their days and we want only the best for them. Sadly, we aren’t all great riders. Most of us could improve our hands and do better with our legs. … Read more

The Advantage of Less Time

It’s the second big freeze here on the farm and it isn’t even Halloween. Much too early for such polar cold. No autumn colors. The leaves froze to a green-black and high winds stripped the trees in a day. No color at all on this flat windy prairie. The horses don’t care. They have what … Read more

Calming Signals and the Myth of Desensitizing

  This chestnut mare is all that. Alert. Intelligent. Willing. And in possession of the quickest response time of any domestic animal; seven times quicker than us. Each of her senses is better than ours by a good bit, but then we hardly use the senses we do have. We’re so unaware of our surroundings, … Read more

Calming Signals: What is a “Hard No?”

  I worry that humans are losing the ability to carry on a polite conversation. I’m talking about civility of the sort we learned in sophomore French class. Sure, it’s a bit canned in the beginning but it had give and take. “How are you?” “I am fine.” Want to know the part of this … Read more

Calming Signals: A Vow of Silence

By now you should snort out loud when someone says their horse is ignoring them. Really, is there a more ridiculous thing to imagine? How could it be possible for a prey animal to ignore anything? Their survival depends on being situationally aware in every moment. You can make fun of a horse for staring … Read more

Calming Signals and Implicit Bias.

The Barnies are really hitting their stride. I started an online subscription group earlier this year called The Barn. Soon after someone referred to the members as Barnies and it stuck. The name makes me smile, and in the beginning, there was a free-for-all of good intention. My training approach is very different, the focus … Read more

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