Affirmative Training: Misunderstandings About Control

You have made some changes in how you work with your horse and you’re both much more relaxed. You’ve evolved beyond the old voices that demand you show your horse who’s boss. Those debunked methods threatened and shamed you as well as your horse. Now, you believe in building the horse’s confidence and training affirmatively. … Read more

Affirmative Training: A Cowboy Walks Into a Bar…

A cowboy walks into a bar. He’s dusty, fresh from the barn. Shuffling his feet, keeping his eyes low, he crosses the floor. Voices stop as the cowboy collapses on a stool by the bar, pulling his hat off with one hand and burying his head in the crook of his other arm. The bartender … Read more

Saying Yes to a Horse When You Mean No

Sometimes something someone says sticks with you because it’s brilliant. Sometimes it sticks because it’s plain wrong. I was working for a horse rescue a few years ago and a bodyworker came to visit the horses. The bodyworker did noticeably light and sensitive work on banged-up sway back elders and the herd melted in acknowledgment. … Read more

How Humans are Different from Horses

In the beginning, a filly is born. In the hospital, a baby girl human is born.  The filly stands almost immediately. The girl breathes and cries. In less than one week, the filly gambols laps around her mother on long legs at breakneck speed. She is champing, a calming signal sending a clear message, and … Read more

Calming Signals: How Do You Listen To a Horse?

What is your first memory of listening to a horse? Not standing next to a horse and being certain he loved you. Not daydreaming about galloping him on the beach or burying your tear-drenched face in his mane and hiding. None of these things are listening. They are moments we might feel a connection because … Read more

Whoa. A Hands-Free Halt.

She’s an 18hh Thoroughbred-Shire cross. She’s 30 years old and her name is Thyme.  I’ll give you a minute to smile. Thyme lives in England but managed to get her rider to email me with a question. “Did you ever write a post on the halt?” he asks. “She will stop in the school, but … Read more

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

Can Horses Forgive Us?

The reader said that an essay I’d written “brought to mind how many times my involuntary predatory instincts have surfaced and expressed themselves over the years with my horses. It made me wonder about the horse’s capacity to forgive, and the time trajectory for establishing trust. …if a horse is capable of trusting humans in … 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

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