Deconstucting Fear with Affirmative Training

  Something is off with your horse, but you can’t tell what. You might be leading him or you might be riding. It could be in a strange place or in your home arena. He isn’t being resistant, but it’s not right. Then he sees something and goes very still. You try to see what … Read more

How to Be a Safe Anchor for Your Horse

For us long-timers, if we’ve been lucky, it feels like we’re always standing in a ghost herd. They’re good company but they’re not looking over us so much as being ready if we forget and start to feel a little cocky about knowing much. Then one of the herd will push past and an airy … Read more

Horses and Common Sense.

Not long after I moved to the farm, a friend brought her two young kids out. We all walked the pens, petting and learning the names of llamas and goats. Were both boys younger than four? I saddled up my safest horse and climbed on. The horse was tall, and it was a hoist as … Read more

Photo & Poem: Soundness

Centering myself behind the horse as he walks away, bent forward with my hands on my knees, staring his hips for unevenness. Listening to his footfalls. Knowing he isn’t quite right, I follow a few steps behind. He’s off but it doesn’t show every stride. The gelding knows I’m watching and the awareness changes his … Read more

Spring and Horses That Fly Like Kites.

When people hear I live in Colorado they often get a romantic look on their faces. I shake my head, “It’s not that Colorado.” It’s February on the High Plains of Colorado. Due to low precipitation and an elevation of almost 7000 feet, the High Plains experience gusty winds and extremes in temperature. But at … Read more

What the Nightmare Revealed

Everyone did what instinct dictated. The beach was so peaceful. Deserted with not so much as a footprint when they arrived. People in the distance maybe but they felt alone. Just a bay mare and her rider standing in the water and their friend on the ground leading another horse. All was calm but in … 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

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

Fear, Shame, and Affirmative Training

  This is a photo of when you first fell in love with horses. Maybe you dreamed it and it took another fifty years to come true, or maybe you’ve had a horse every day since then. This is also a photo of the first time a horse frightened you a bit. Those two experiences … Read more

Confidence Lost and Found

  We thought having a horse would make everything perfect. It’s a dream most of us were born with; we were drawn to horses in some way that we can’t explain in polite words. We were a bit frightening to our mothers. We begin to lose whatever meager social skills we had for small talk … Read more