Best Advice for Loading Horses on Trailers

I had a clinic stop in Flagstaff where the organizer was a long-time client and hero of mine, Barb. The clinic itself was at a facility a few miles from her home, but my dog and I were hooked up in the field behind her house. In the morning she and I were each driving. … Read more

Do You Need to Keep Your Horse Calm?

I can’t be the only woman of a certain age whose parents thought she needed to be muffled indefinitely. They wanted a quiet polite daughter and look how that turned out. And I’m probably the wrong person to write this since I have a rescue dog that hasn’t stopped barking since 2014. Here goes anyway.  … Read more

Leading Horses with Spatial Kindness. What?

The exercise was to halter your horse thoughtfully, asking the horse’s permission for each step of the process, and acknowledging his calming signals. A teenage girl was with her recently off-the-track thoroughbred, a tall dark gelding unsettled in new surroundings. We know how track horses are [not] taught to lead and she was using a … Read more

When Impatience and Cruelty are Normalized

Sometimes I find myself standing in front of people talking about horses’ feelings. I’m almost embarrassed; I was raised to be tough. Yes, I cite scientific research. Inside, I still hear my father curse me for spoiling horses, but most people didn’t think horses had feelings in his day. Except I think part of us … Read more

The Season of Letting Go

The autumnal equinox is about change. There’s a miserable fog today, dense and so uncommon on my high prairie. Chilly enough for a sweatshirt, the dog bellies are all muddy, and the geldings are fracking about. If there is a New Year, this is the time to note the old year. Fall is a season … Read more

Calming Signals: Thoughts About Spooking at Nothing

There are two kinds of spooking. This is the first: It was midmorning on the ranch, and we were riding out. My friend was on the best trail horse in the world, and they were helping me and my young gelding gain confidence. We usually walked through an especially beautiful ravine where the plant growth … Read more

Calming Signals: What Normal Looks Like

Do you ever think about what horses give up in living with us? Humans have a way of always seeing ourselves as the solution, resting confidently in the knowledge that we are their saviors. We have a bank account to prove it. We talk about what they do for us, but rarely consider the cost … Read more

Are You Having a Midlife Horse Crisis?

I got an email from a reader last week. She had a hard question. She acknowledges she was naive, but she adopted an Off-the-track Thoroughbred. He was a bit complicated, as I remember him, but she’s done an excellent job. He’s a solid citizen in the barn and on the ground. He’s been to professional … 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

Is Your Horse Mentally Exhausted?

No other animal is quite like a horse; never fully wild and never quite domesticated. Engaged with us but never ours entirely. Some see horses as simple creatures and others of us hold them as a mystery we will never completely solve and we like it that way. In 2012,  a group of prestigious scientists … Read more