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

Brain Science as a Training Aid

  It was a two-day-long science class and we were promised a brain dissection. I signed up immediately and have had the weekend marked off on my calendar for months. I can’t imagine you don’t want to hear all about it. Our instructor was Dr. Stephen Peters, (Psy.D., ABN, Diplomate in Neuropsychology) a neuroscientist, horse … Read more

Affirmative Training and Spoiling Horses

Most of us hear voices. We might be working with our horses on an issue and floundering in the moment, because we hear a threatening voice in our heads. It could haunt us from the past; a trainer from decades ago, something said on a video or written. For some of us, the harsh threat … Read more

The Thing About Mares

When Larry McMurtry wrote Lonesome Dove, he gave Woodrow Call’s gray mare a blunt name that was rudely respectful, in a close-as-kin way. Being a sort of gray mare myself, the name stuck in my memory. Some folks hate mares so much they refuse to have them on the place. Others praise them to the … Read more

The Argument for Curiosity: From Fear to Courage

I rarely have any idea where I’m headed. I get in a car with a stranger outside of baggage claim and go to a horse facility I’m not familiar with. I don’t know the participants or the horses, their histories or skill level. It’s fine though, I’d wind up giving a different clinic each time, … Read more

Calming Signals and the Thing We Call Stubborn

In celebration of Edgar Rice Burro’s birthday, he’s asked me to rant a bit about the thing humans call stubborn. Donkeys call that same behavior common sense. Are you in a hurry to find out what this is about? Edgar Rice Burro says in good time. He has had it with donkeys being referred to … Read more

Behavioral Euthanasia of Horses

  “Anna, do you have any articles that touch on behavioral euthanasia?” It’s from a question about a rescue horse in trouble. Initially, things went well enough but now there is unusual pasture activity, unprovoked aggression toward other horses, and the issues continue to escalate. A horrible fit of extreme bucking resulted in the rider … Read more

Calming Signals and Boundaries

A request to write about boundaries, in which the Loudmouth Party-Pooper returns. Am I allowed a pet peeve? I’ve began seriously disliking the “Incredible Bond” photos, the ones where someone is lying on the ground next to their horse, the one where someone is sitting on a naked horse without a helmet, or the photo … Read more

Does Your Horse “Respect” You?

I’m just the sort of old-fashioned cowgirl/dressage queen/dork that loves the concept of respect. Philosophically and in real life, I care more about respect than love in most situations. Love can be fickle and misguided, but respect is a sacred trust. Sadly, as a trainer and writer, I avoid using the word. The word “respect” has been kidnapped … Read more