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

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

Affirmative Training for Colts and Fillies

  Foals are irresistible. They are precocious and lively; they cavort and air gallop and sleep flat-out. When they wake up, they’re an inch taller and even more curious about the world than before their nap. They have newborn piaffes and sliding stops. They jump like frogs. They are a fresh start, a whole new … Read more

Leading from Behind and Green Grass

*Public Service Announcement* Your horses pay me a small stipend to remind you of things so obvious to them that they doubt the human ability to reason. They want me to mention that it’s spring in the northern hemisphere. The spring grass is very tender and sweet. The aroma is intoxicating. They say even humans, … Read more

Can You Feel Your Hand?

  Can you feel your hand? How about your fingers? Literally, can you feel them if there isn’t a paper cut or a hangnail? When I was just settled into riding lessons, back at the dawn of time when I was still riding a Wooly Mammoth, I had a problem with my right hand wandering … Read more

Creativity and the Problem with Training Techniques.

We were standing around the barn after the vet had left, a group of trainers and riders and horses, telling stories and laughing. I can’t remember what I said now, but the European trainer got suddenly serious with me, saying “You know there is only one right way to train that, don’t you?” I don’t … Read more

Calming Signals and Boundaries

A request to write about boundaries, in which the Loudmouth Party-Pooper returns. Am I allowed a pet peeve? I’ve began seriously disliking the “Incredible Bond” photos, the ones where someone is lying on the ground next to their horse, the one where someone is sitting on a naked horse without a helmet, or the photo … Read more

Does Your Horse “Respect” You?

I’m just the sort of old-fashioned cowgirl/dressage queen/dork that loves the concept of respect. Philosophically and in real life, I care more about respect than love in most situations. Love can be fickle and misguided, but respect is a sacred trust. Sadly, as a trainer and writer, I avoid using the word. The word “respect” has been kidnapped … Read more

Calming Signals and Ambivalent Horses.

Humans are impatient worriers. On the high side, it means we care but we want to know everything immediately. Perhaps a predator way of thinking; we’re always on the hunt, stalking the perceptions that elude us. The more we chase, the more understanding hides. We crave control and we’re better at fighting than waiting. Gaining … Read more

Change: A Virtual* Barn Raising!

No, I’m not building a real barn. That would be easy. I’m handy with tools and I’ve been known to use my truck in some unusually creative ways. This new barn is different. It’s a “website with an online membership group” but I think it’ll be more comfortable if I just call it The Barn. Most … Read more