Calming Signals: A Vow of Silence

By now you should snort out loud when someone says their horse is ignoring them. Really, is there a more ridiculous thing to imagine? How could it be possible for a prey animal to ignore anything? Their survival depends on being situationally aware in every moment. You can make fun of a horse for staring … Read more

Photo and Poem: Black Bay

  She was for sale: a black bay Arabian mare and I was looking for a beginner lesson horse. Tacked up when I arrived, I led her to the mounting block, held the reins a bit too tight, poked her with my toe as I stepped into the stirrup and then dragged my leg over … Read more

The Real Helmet Heroes. (#ihad, #riders4helmets)

This week was ordinary in the horse world. We love horses, who have the quickest response time of any domestic animal. We love horses, who are prey animals with senses much more acute than ours and an instinct to spook, or bolt and run when frightened or alarmed. There were no freak accidents this week, … Read more

Affirmative Training for Colts and Fillies

  Foals are irresistible. They are precocious and lively; they cavort and air gallop and sleep flat-out. When they wake up, they’re an inch taller and even more curious about the world than before their nap. They have newborn piaffes and sliding stops. They jump like frogs. They are a fresh start, a whole new … 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

Fear, Shame, and Affirmative Training

  This is a photo of when you first fell in love with horses. Maybe you dreamed it and it took another fifty years to come true, or maybe you’ve had a horse every day since then. This is also a photo of the first time a horse frightened you a bit. Those two experiences … Read more

Photo & Poem: Spine to Spine

His back is not solid, nerves run between banks of muscle, each vertebra linked to the next, from the base of his skull to the end of his tail. A horse’s strength is rhythm, each hoof initiating a wave when it takes to the air, a surge of energy rolling up through his hind, my … 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

Can You Feel Your Hand?

  Can you feel your hand? How about your fingers? Literally, can you feel them if there isn’t a paper cut or a hangnail? When I was just settled into riding lessons, back at the dawn of time when I was still riding a Wooly Mammoth, I had a problem with my right hand wandering … Read more

Creativity and the Problem with Training Techniques.

We were standing around the barn after the vet had left, a group of trainers and riders and horses, telling stories and laughing. I can’t remember what I said now, but the European trainer got suddenly serious with me, saying “You know there is only one right way to train that, don’t you?” I don’t … Read more