Free Advice: Everybody’s a Trainer

“What I see astounds me. It’s difficult to be around other riders who constantly give advice I didn’t ask for.” “I have waited on my horse on the trail when things got scary only to have friends tell me I was causing more problems. I will continue doing what is best for my horse. Why … Read more

Calming Signals: What is a “Hard No?”

  I worry that humans are losing the ability to carry on a polite conversation. I’m talking about civility of the sort we learned in sophomore French class. Sure, it’s a bit canned in the beginning but it had give and take. “How are you?” “I am fine.” Want to know the part of this … Read more

The Real Helmet Heroes. (#ihad, #riders4helmets)

This week was ordinary in the horse world. We love horses, who have the quickest response time of any domestic animal. We love horses, who are prey animals with senses much more acute than ours and an instinct to spook, or bolt and run when frightened or alarmed. There were no freak accidents this week, … Read more

Does Your Horse Need a Tune-Up?

  This is how it goes: Sometimes it’s just fine to go lollygagging around. The time isn’t right; you’re hungry or distracted by work or family, or where your gloves went to. You don’t want to ride alone but can’t find anyone to ride with. But then you find someone and spend the whole time … Read more

How to Have a Conversation with Someone Who Doesn’t Talk

People talk to horses constantly. The words are unintelligible most of the time, to both us and the horse, but we chatter away, explaining what we are doing as we do it. “Now we’ll clean your feet.” Sometimes we are so uncomfortable with the quiet that we fill in their half of the conversation, too. … Read more

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

Calming Signals: Do You Tease Your Horse?

There was a time that I had a basset hound named Agatha and a bunch of friends with toddlers. It was hell. See it from Agatha’s side. Toddlers are short and take uneven steps, moving more like a prey animal than a human. A tipsy bunny. And they are sticky-sweet, sometimes wearing a soiled diaper. … 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

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