She Said Her Horse Was Pensive.

L. and her gelding, Andante, are boarders here. I always ask how the ride went as they return to the barn. One day L. tilted her head and said he’d complained about her hands. Horses are always right about hands. It’s frustrating when you listen to your horse and hear something you don’t like. Recently, … Read more

Spring Fever, Bad Behavior, or Flight Response?

It’s February on the high prairie at the fringe of the Rocky Mountains. The pond is still frozen so there is an unnatural quiet, no bird chatter, no wings in the sky. After months of feeling that light is somehow a product of ice lighting the ground, the sun feels just a bit warm again. … Read more

An Allergy, Spyglass Tunnel Vision, & a Valentine

    Most of us start with an allergy. Our noses get stuffy and our eyes are red and teary all the time. We’re allergic to not having a horse and it’s chronic. We start sniveling when we’re kids. We cry if we can’t have a pony, we cry when we get a pony, and … Read more

A Short List of Things Horses Do Need Us to Teach Them.

For all our love for horses, humans are still predators. We don’t like to hear that. We’re defensive; we’ve seen abused horses. Our minds go to the most extreme images; bloody flanks and torturous bits and that isn’t who we are. Nope. Not what we do. At the same time, we struggle with what others … Read more

A Short List of Things Horses Don’t Need Us to Teach Them.

If Edgar Rice Burro were to title this Bev Doolittle-like photo, he might call it Beauty and the Beast. He lives with this mare, but she is always fussy about something. She’s a huge control enthusiast and it wears him down. The mare has no ears to speak of and an overly dramatic tail. She … Read more

Contact: Wait Too Late… Then Panic

  Dear Fellow Primates: It is our instinct to grab. It is our instinct to talk in imitation-semaphore with our hands, to eat with our hands, and react to fear or alarm with our hands. We start when we’re babies being offered a finger to grab and we never let go. We use our hands … Read more

Calming Signals: “But My Mare Likes This Bit”

I arrived at the clinic grounds Friday afternoon so I could meet the organizers and check out the facility. They’d also set up a lesson for someone who didn’t get into the clinic. The rider was warming up in the arena when I introduced myself. Her mare was beautiful, strong, with a dappled coat. She … Read more

The Word Inside an Exhale: EASE

It’s January first. The calendar has flipped over and I’m happy with the new numbers. New Year’s is an excellent holiday if you like fresh starts and I certainly do. Like most horse people, I’m a perfectionist, and besides, there is always something on a list I didn’t get done. I know a change on … Read more

When There’s No Room At The Inn…

Even on holidays, our family dinners don’t look like other people’s. Neither do our hands or shoes. We look different; we have chronic hat hair from helmets or broad-brimmed favorites that never quite keep us out of the sun. We buy half our clothes in the men’s department which explains why we are unrecognizable the … Read more

Calming Signals and Whiskers

I always thought of grooming as part of the warm-up for the ride. It’s the price paid up front, a thank you in advance. I spent hours currying and brushing, trimming fetlocks and conditioning tails. My horses stood quietly ground-tied to get their ears clipped and their chins trimmed. I cared for them as a … Read more