A Barn Visit and a Fresh Reminder About Predator and Prey

It’s a thing called a Barn Visit. I offer them to clients mainly, those I’ve worked with online through the pandemic. I’m an expensive visitor but on the other hand, it’s a private clinic that kind of redefines intensive. Training is so individual that meeting the horse and rider on their own land can be … Read more

Unwanted Favors: What’s the Affirmative Response to “No”?

Last month, we were in Texas and I’m still thinking about a near-altercation between two dog owners. I was one of them. And since I’m still thinking about it, I will exorcise it the only way I know. Here goes: Mister Dog and I had been driving all day. We finally got the Rollin’ Rancho … Read more

Why “Ride ’em Through It” Is a Bad Idea

“Sure, your horse is tossing his head and wringing his tail, but you push him on. More leg. Ride ’em through it. More leg!” Or “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Or maybe something simple like, “Ask your horse to walk out.” It could be a trainer saying it, maybe it’s … Read more

A Training Question About Hurrying Horses …and a Grass Fire

I see people in the grocery store thoughtfully reading labels and pondering choices. The Dude Rancher and I look like game show contestants for speed shopping. We buy the same things every week and tag-team the aisles, scurrying down some and skipping others. We always get fresh berries and never any chips. Get the ice … Read more

“Why is Everything With Horses So Hard?”

“Can Competition Horses be Trained Affirmatively?” she asked. I know why she asks. This rider has been trained to think that it’s hard to be good enough, that the work is hard so you have to ask your horse in ways that are hard. She has seen trainers claim that force is justifiable to win, … Read more

Affirmative Training: Response Time and a Hail Mary Pass

My client and I were having an online meeting. We’d been working on a systematic process of getting her and Bradley, her gelding, back to riding. It’s a process that I’ve developed that has space for horses and riders to be individuals, and more than traditional training, we focus on listening to calming signals and … Read more

Training Your Horse: Spring Fever and Fluid Goals

Ants in your pants. It was a childhood affliction constantly mentioned by adults when we couldn’t sit still in church or school or at the dinner table. Pervasive, chronic, and most of us didn’t grow out of it. I was certain that all the dull talk about patience was just a flimsy defense put out … Read more

A Short List of Unfair Things to Ask a Horse

Old mares have a constant dilemma. They get stiff and stove-up. They’re stoic so they don’t whine about it, but they have small feet in proportion to their large body. They lose muscle over the years, their necks are arthritic, their joint fluid turns to sandpaper. The human said she should go for a walk … Read more

Tunnel Vision for Problems and the Things We Don’t Notice

  The night-feed is my favorite. In the summer, the sky and clouds are as gaudy as the underwear department at the dollar store. If they have an underwear department, which I’m a little proud that I don’t know. The light loiters over the pond, as my farm exhales the day and rolls it to … Read more

Calming Signal Substitutions: Helping Your Horse

Most of us are old enough to remember what a rolled-up newspaper is for. Wacking the dog, of course. Because dogs are destructive and must be taught to behave. The dog would have something in his mouth, like a shoe or a roll of toilet paper or a measly old sock on the way to … Read more