Mental Maturity in Horses

I’ve never been good at remembering dates, so sometimes I measure my time with horses by when I learned things. Was it when I was still clipping whiskers for shows because we were all told to. Was it when I kept my horses in stalls for my convenience? Was it before I knew about ulcers? … Read more

Why “Ride ’em Through It” Is a Bad Idea

“Sure, your horse is tossing his head and wringing his tail, but you push him on. More leg. Ride ’em through it. More leg!” Or “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Or maybe something simple like, “Ask your horse to walk out.” It could be a trainer saying it, maybe it’s … Read more

What’s Love Got To Do With It? [Horse Version]

We love horses. We love to say it loud and proud. We love the ones we grew up with and the ones in stories that we only dreamed of. Famous horses, of course, but we love the ones our friends own and the ones we drive by. We love them when they are alive and … Read more

A Training Question About Hurrying Horses …and a Grass Fire

I see people in the grocery store thoughtfully reading labels and pondering choices. The Dude Rancher and I look like game show contestants for speed shopping. We buy the same things every week and tag-team the aisles, scurrying down some and skipping others. We always get fresh berries and never any chips. Get the ice … Read more

The Simple Truth About Complicated Training

It was back around the time the light bulb was invented. My Grandfather Horse was a lanky spooky colt, I was still biting my lip instead of breathing, and my mentor put a western saddle on her stallion and attached her tackle box and pole to go fishing, (but the same thing might happen if … Read more

Affirmative Training: Response Time and a Hail Mary Pass

My client and I were having an online meeting. We’d been working on a systematic process of getting her and Bradley, her gelding, back to riding. It’s a process that I’ve developed that has space for horses and riders to be individuals, and more than traditional training, we focus on listening to calming signals and … Read more

Does it Feel Like Everyone is Watching You?

It’s you and your horse. Sometimes people looking at him think he isn’t much but that’s because they don’t know horses. Anyone can see the beauty of mustangs galloping the rocky terrain or a team of Friesians pulling an antique carriage in a PBS show, or a foal cavorting circles around his dam. Beyond the … Read more

Calming Signal Substitutions: Helping Your Horse

Most of us are old enough to remember what a rolled-up newspaper is for. Wacking the dog, of course. Because dogs are destructive and must be taught to behave. The dog would have something in his mouth, like a shoe or a roll of toilet paper or a measly old sock on the way to … Read more

What Does it Mean to be Domesticated?

If you have been reading along for the last 1300 or so weekly essays of mine, you know sometimes I get testy about words. I decry those insensitive people who “desensitize” horses. I have no respect for those who hijacked the word “respect” to justify disrespecting horses. Both of those word abductions have sent me … Read more

A Love Letter to Dirt.

It’s the eve of Christmas Eve and I’m worried about my dirt. Maybe the world has bigger problems and maybe it doesn’t. It’s a toasty 49 degrees with 30mph winds, with gusts to 75mph overnight. Not normal Colorado weather, but that’s seems to be the weather everywhere these days; not normal. My farm’s dirt could … Read more