When Horses Can’t “Do” The Clinic…

Lena was elegant in that special way that Thoroughbred mares can be. Her face had long planes and gentle curves with a classically simple beauty. She made her bay color look like burnt honey. There was no question about her intelligence. But her flank was tight, and she was in a bit of trouble. Sometimes, … Read more

How to Focus Simply.

I had just finished a lesson when another woman I knew at the barn came up to me with a sour face. Through pious lips, she said, “Can’t you do something about her hands?” As if finding fault in another somehow confirmed her own brilliance in the saddle. She was referring to the novice rider … 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

Calming Signals and Why the Second Time’s a Charm.

Want to know the smallest thing you could change in training for the biggest improvement? I usually say doing a logical, effective warm-up, but it’s more specific because that smallest thing happens before the warm-up, thru the warm-up, and until the halter comes off at the end. Have you ever noticed that the first of … Read more

Virtual Dressage and Girls in White Shirts

The FEI passed good rules this year, and the Olympic judging held to the high side. Dressage had things to celebrate but then the modern pentathlon debacle happened, not even an equestrian event, and we all saw the competitor crying and whipping her horse. The press failed to grasp what we all know: Horses take … Read more

Does Leadership Mean Domination Now?

From a Reader: “Anna, you articulate the dance between horse and human so very succinctly. I wish it were easier to “just be” with horses, but it’s a constant struggle to eliminate formerly learned patterns of behavior. I started to learn about horses with a woman that spoke of partnership with horses and that has … Read more

The Dynamic Power of Consistency

We would like consistent behavior from our horses. It would be good if they took each cue with light and immediate response. But some days we climb on and don’t feel like doing much. We don’t really have a plan, not that we care. We lollygag around slouching in the saddle and banging our legs … Read more

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

Horse Intelligence: What Are We Missing?

  I love reading about science like hungry people love over-cooked greenish-gray Brussel sprouts. And that’s the kind of sentence you never come upon while reading scientific research. I have better luck understanding these behavioral studies if I read them aloud. The words all seem to trip over each other’s feet; science jargon is a … Read more

Life Happens: The Unplanned Dismount

“I owned horses for 20 years until divorce happened,” the reader said, asking me to write about it. “I think they are the only thing that kept me sane and leaving them was the hardest thing I have ever done.” The reader said it was literally a matter of life or death. I believe her … Read more