Affirmative Training: Can You Take a Hint?

  It’s a story that I’ve heard quite a few times. You’ve heard it too. The horse was getting a little worse all the time and the rider was trying to get him fixed. When the gelding got fussy in his face, the rider tried to hold his head steady by using pressure on the … Read more

How to See It Like a Horse

My friend was tracing her Arabian’s family tree. She’d driven north of Denver to see her horse’s sire and ran into a pathetic spotted colt that somehow reminded her of me. I was a self-employed artist barely making my bills, my relationship was failing, and I had a list of personal quirks that were entirely … Read more

What Horses Want to “Talk” About.

  What is it about the snout of an old horse? Especially a pink and black muzzle? How can it seem so wise to me? Or is it that over thirty years with this horse, I finally got wise to him? I confess that I disregarded his opinion in the early days. Disregarding the opinions … Read more

Distraction: A Simple Answer for Bright Shiny Things

  Is your horse distracted? Is he always swinging his head at every noise? Does he knock you with his shoulder or just stop and freeze? Now people are coming. What will they think seeing you standing flat-footed with your horse looking like he might spontaneously combust? Maybe you jangle the rope; did you read … Read more

Calming Signals and What You Can’t Unsee.

  Here’s our barn rat. She started earlier than most. Now, she’s tall and smart and brave and what we used to call coltish. Her mom is my friend and boarder, and her little sister is extremely cool, too. Our barn rat helps with chores, does daring feats on the horse swing, and has a … Read more

Making Peace with Anxiety

A caption for this photo? “Dressage rider doesn’t grasp the fundamentals of team penning.” How about “Dressage rider brings a breath of fresh air to The Cowboy Way.” Words matter. The goal of affirmative training is to collect positive experiences for your horse. We never want to dominate or push too hard. Once the horse … Read more

Photo & Poem: Forever Now

Walking past the mare, I let my hand follow the shape of her body, her hair so short it has no texture in the height of summer. My fingers slip under her mane first, and remembering the full moon on night she was born, watching with the rest of the herd as her dam gave … Read more

Photo & Poem: Her Place

A stick pony to start, with a wooden head and twine for a mane. The tiny girl stomped unevenly, imagining hooves at the end of her pudgy legs, her mother’s back turned, hurrying dinner for the men. Later a spring horse that the girl could climb on all by herself, jumping hard up-and-down, the toy’s … Read more

Photo & Poem: Midsummer

Midsummer, the mare stands square, hooves flat and neck low, her muzzle faced into the corner of a dark stall, her tail as still as the heat. Do not disturb. Hat brim tilted for hot shade, dragging my feet in small circles, searching dusty bins for one more clamp needed to repair a gate. Water … Read more

Affirmative Training and the Rhythm Method

Remember when you first heard the term The Rhythm Method? I was almost certain it had to do with something bad and music. I was a virgin then, but I was confused about what that word meant as well, because, well, Virgin Mary. Eventually, I found out The Rhythm Method was actually something you don’t … Read more