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 Short List of Unfair Things to Ask a Horse

Old mares have a constant dilemma. They get stiff and stove-up. They’re stoic so they don’t whine about it, but they have small feet in proportion to their large body. They lose muscle over the years, their necks are arthritic, their joint fluid turns to sandpaper. The human said she should go for a walk … Read more

A Different Leg Cue

“My horse won’t go forward!” the rider says. Many trainers respond with the traditional battle cry, “More leg!” What does that mean exactly? What part of our leg does the horse need more of? Surely not more thigh? Have you seen me in white breeches? Are my knees supposed to flap in and out? How … Read more

Forging a Path: What to Do Next With Your Horse.

It’s that time of winter when you half-think spring isn’t real. Are you frustrated with how you and your horse are progressing? As if it’s even warm enough to take his blanket off. Do you ride in the same place in the same way? Do you do the same groundwork in the same order? Do … Read more

Tunnel Vision for Problems and the Things We Don’t Notice

  The night-feed is my favorite. In the summer, the sky and clouds are as gaudy as the underwear department at the dollar store. If they have an underwear department, which I’m a little proud that I don’t know. The light loiters over the pond, as my farm exhales the day and rolls it 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

Finding the Ground But In a Good Way

Our T’ai Chi master told us to drop our weight? I was barely legal and my fledgling art career was doing so well that I didn’t own a car. The class met in a church gym, he stood in front with his back to us and the small class mimicked his slow-motion movements. He told … Read more

Is Your Horse Distracted?

You want the horse to focus on the task and do it. Let’s say your horse needs to stand still. He pauses, quiet for a few seconds almost before you notice, but he’s close and you can’t help but adjust his forelock. Like a horse even needs a forelock adjustment. Then he shifts to look … Read more