Calming Signals: How the Farm Says Thank You.

      It’s Thanksgiving time and I should write something special, but I feel kind of ordinary. All I can think about is how dry it is. Last week a fire started on a neighbor’s property. They got it under control quickly, but I stood with my mouth open watching. I was frozen, knowing … Read more

Human Calming Signals: Authenticity

Some people are just so effortlessly magic with horses. They seem to do nothing, but horses hang on their every breath. The first time I saw my mentor ride, she was on an Arabian stallion, cantering the speed of a walk, and chatting casually with a client. She exuded cool in every essential way that … Read more

Human Calming Signals: What’s Your Barn Persona?

How aware are we when we pull on a persona? We’re usually aware when we tidy one up to make an impression at a job interview. We might notice that we’re different at church than at Walmart. It isn’t deception; it’s just a good idea to use a different persona when pulled over by the … Read more

A List of Inedible Treats for Your Horse

It’s funny how something someone says can turn over in your mind for years after. I had a visitor, and since I am more comfortable in the barn than the house, I took her into my family pen. Back then, there were five horses, a couple of donkeys, a mini, and a pair of goats. … 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

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