How to Attend a Clinic

Gray Mare memories: It was one of the first clinics I ever attended. The clinician was famous; I signed up for three fifty-minute lessons that came to more than I paid for my horse. It was a huge amount of money to me. The night before the clinic was to start, we all went to … Read more

Bit Contradictions: A Confused Conversation

“Slower, please.” “Here we go.” “Don’t bang…” “Almost ready.” “… my teeth.” “Good…” “Not good.” “Stand.” “Let go.” “Back up.” “Whoa.” “Whoa!” “Ouch.” “Stand. “Metal.” “Walk on, but not too fast.” “I can’t balance slow.” “Why so fussy?” “More rein, please.” “I need to feel control.” “I hate feeling controlled.” “We need a different bit.” … Read more

A Different Leg Cue

“My horse won’t go forward!” the rider says. Many trainers respond with the traditional battle cry, “More leg!” What does that mean exactly? What part of our leg does the horse need more of? Surely not more thigh? Have you seen me in white breeches? Are my knees supposed to flap in and out? How … Read more

Relaxed & Forward in 2022. Now What?

The lockdown at the beginning of 2020, followed by months of quarantine, was a wonderful opportunity for a thoughtful assessment of my brilliant career choices. Said no one ever. “Non-essential worker” became my new job title. I was like a mare pacing the fence line separated from the herd. I would have been pacing more, … Read more

Why Don’t You Ride?

“Why don’t you ride?” It’s the question we dread. Sometimes the people who ask are neophytes who don’t understand that in the arc of a horse’s life, there are many phases, many unexpected turns that change our plans, and many mysteries that take years to unravel. Sometimes the people who ask are longtime horse owners … Read more

Virtual Dressage and Girls in White Shirts

The FEI passed good rules this year, and the Olympic judging held to the high side. Dressage had things to celebrate but then the modern pentathlon debacle happened, not even an equestrian event, and we all saw the competitor crying and whipping her horse. The press failed to grasp what we all know: Horses take … Read more

Boundaries: Whose Space Is It?

Horses gallop on pounding hooves that cut the ground and then melt to a stop, whiskers floating in the light. A masterpiece of contradictions, horses frighten easily but are forever curious. Wilder than a dog, much bigger than a cat, with a certain animal magnetism that drew you beyond childish reason. Can you remember your … Read more

Is She Still Going On About Helmets?

Yes. I’ve been writing in support of helmet use since the start. I expect I’ll go on haranguing about helmets as long as I continue to see photos of tiny kids standing on the backs of horses with no adults in the frame. And toddlers perched on fenceposts surrounded by horses who are a bit … Read more

Why Horses Don’t Multi-task

Imagine what it means to have senses as keen as a prey animal. Feel the roar of nature even on a still morning. The scent in the air during the spring mating and birthing season for all mammals. The blustering storms stirring up musty leaves and revealing death and new growth. The jangle and hum … Read more

Take a Cue from Your Horse

He was a bright young gelding. Alert, athletic, and so willing. One day he would become the kind of breathtaking dressage horse that his sire was, I hoped. It would be years before he’d be started under saddle, but it was the perfect time to start arena work. Did you just seize up a bit? … Read more