Edgar Rice Burro. All He is Saying is Give Peace A Chance.

Yet another horse trainer got tarred and feathered on social media this week. It happens all the time. People jumped on both sides of the debate, defending her and destroying her. Some knew what they were talking about, and others just wanted to vent. It’s easy to criticize from behind a computer screen. Edgar Rice Burro was appalled. He’s a donkey and deplores rudeness in humans. He’s also smart enough to stay off Facebook.

Did the video show the trainer’s best moment? Probably not. Do I sound sympathetic to her situation? I am because, like her, I’m a target. I know how it feels to draw fire from the other side.

Is Anna going to be all chirpy now? Saccharine about affirmative training? Yes, but I’ve been writing for so many years now, I run a search of my blogs before I start. I’ve probably covered every topic from three different angles. I found this little gem, written in 2011, short and sweet. Back then, I had less than fifty subscribers and my essays were very short. Please give it a read; it won’t take long: Get Serious about Laughing.

If there is one thing I know about horse training, it’s that frightened horses can’t learn. Lighten up, it’s the only viable option. It isn’t that I’m a peacenik who dances in filmy gowns in the pasture. I rehab damaged horses who teach me in no uncertain terms what kinds of training don’t work. Edgar lets his ears go wide in agreement.

Humans can get defensive and cling to tradition. That tradition has been the domination of both horses and those not like us. It’s our Caste system, as old as time. It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes, we are afraid to be honest, even if we know in our hearts what we do to horses isn’t right. Back when we started with horses, most of us were taught fear-based training methods. Not that long ago, people believed horses didn’t have emotions and couldn’t feel pain.

Even then, we knew people who trained with kindness and had fabulous horses. But now the world is changing fast. You might even see a cowboy in a helmet. But change makes us prickly. Some of us are in denial, fighting to stay in the past. Some of us switched sides, standing with the horses. We faced railbirds who catcalled and criticized anyone too much of “a sissy” to beat some respect into their horse.

Science confirms that the progressive affirmative training approach is beneficial for horses, supportive of their physical and emotional well-being. But still, the debate rages. We love horses but use them to justify our cruelty to each other. 

The road to positive change is bumpy and the horse world is inching along like a donkey with someone pushing on his backside. Edgar shudders. It isn’t pretty. We can be stubborn when we are in a fight, too. That’s the irony. Each side is fighting about the value of fighting. We have been for centuries.

About one thousand four hundred (1,400!) blogs ago, I decided I would post every Friday morning. It would be my gift to horses. I’ve been relentless and because of my writing, I’ve had the wild luck to travel the world, giving clinics and meeting wonderful people and horses. And I have picked up some haters along the way. No one is above reproach in the horse world and we shouldn’t be. But when there’s blood in the water, it seems we become sharks. We eat our own.

Edgar Rice Burro tells me the fight is futile and he wonders about people’s mental health. Mine included. If ranting on social media was a solution, it would have worked by now. But he says it’s a fight no one wins.

I’ve always seen Facebook as a necessary evil. I post my blog hoping to find like-minds or at least counterbalance some of the hostility. When my personal page had too many “friends” I was asked to start a business page. I did and most months my writing reached an average of 150,000 readers. It was a far cry from the first years when I could tell if my clients read my blog on Friday or Saturday. 

But the last couple of years have been harder. We’ve become more divisive. Comments are more caustic, the ugliness seeps further and we’re getting meaner. You’d think I’d be “desensitized” by now, but flooding doesn’t work on me any more than it does on horses. 

I was doing some lip-chewing and some eyebrow furrowing. I’d tilted my ears sideways at my dogs, thinking about what I could do. This is my business after all and social media is advertising, a necessity. I told myself I was strong, that I could just keep doing what I do and let the rest roll off.

Then the mighty Facebook gods stepped in. They locked down my business account for the second time in a year. Probably hacked, but I can’t even tell. There is no customer service to talk with, I have filed the forms to no avail, and for the second time, I’ve hired tech help that specializes in hacking. No luck. The business page is floating in limbo. I’m locked out, not that I had a choice. No warning, no recourse. Kaput.

Edgar Rice Burro shakes his head at my anxiety and presses me against a fence panel. Just to hold me still as he moany-brays Stand By Me and Bhim nickers the high parts. The whole herd tries to poop more so I can spend longer in therapy. I appreciate their concern. 

In truth, nothing important has changed. I don’t believe all people are wicked. I can see the horse world is changing for the better every day and I want to be part of that. But I also believe Facebook is a place that encourages cock fights. I won’t miss the vitriol and the daily grind of hearts. Facebook has become a hostile work environment. 

I’m not quitting horse training, or giving clinics, or writing. It just won’t be on Facebook.

Suddenly, I feel young and thin, like a hint of spring on the frozen prairie. I have plans for new directions at The Barn School. I spend most of my time there already. It’s my group site designed to be like Facebook but with no hackers or haters or ads. It’s a safe place for like-minds. We are building something up, not tearing each other down. Dogs are welcome. We even have Happy Hour. If Facebook makes you tired, too, or you want to keep track of my work, join us there

Finally, let me give credit where credit is due; it’s always been Edgar Rice Burro. He’s the peacenik. But I’m trying to be more of an ass. Edgar murmurs, “Right here, Little-Ears.” He uses my pet name and gives me the cue to breathe.   

Don’t lose us as we move from Facebook. If you appreciate what I write, please Subscribe to this blog and please, join us at The Barn School

Want more? Become a sustaining member, a “Barnie.” Subscribe to our online training group with affirmative demonstration videos, audio blogs, daily quotes, free participation in “group lessons”, and live chats with Anna. Become part of the most supportive group of like-minded horsepeople anywhere.

Anna teaches ongoing courses like Calming Signals and Affirmative Training at The Barn School, along with virtual clinics and our infamous Happy Hour. Everyone’s welcome.

Visit annablake.com to find archived blogspurchase signed booksschedule a live consultation, subscribe for email delivery of this blog, or ask a question about the art and science of working with horses.

Affirmative training is the fine art of saying yes.


This blog is free, and it always will be. Free to read, but also free of ads because I turn away sponsorships and pay to keep ads off my site. I like to read a clean page and think you do too. If you appreciate the work I do, or if your horse does, consider making a donation.

Anna Blake

38 thoughts on “Edgar Rice Burro. All He is Saying is Give Peace A Chance.”

  1. Anna,
    Edgar Rice B is always right. He is our favorite instructor, next to you.
    Jack and Simon are with you regarding FB — never used in this area; never. We laugh a lot
    when walking out together.
    We are Barnies. Although, I had some issues trying to finalize that membership too.
    I keep trying…
    We had a sad weekend, and lost Vito Va Vivaldi — our best friend’s little Arabian, aged 24
    to PPID. We kept him going with love, endless support and care and medications, but
    he decided, on Saturday night last week, that it was time to leave. He ate a good supper,
    and munched on hay for a while. Then he lay down to sleep, and slipped away.
    It was as peaceful as it could have been.
    We miss him — our three hearts are torn.
    Edgar Rice Burrow would tell us it was the best thing. He always sees the clearing…

    Love, Nuala

    • Sorry Nuala. Edgar is showing his age this year. Mortality looms for us all.

      (you are in the Barn School, it’s complete.)

    • I’m only “acquainted” here on Anna’s blog but losing someone (and horses ARE someone) is so hard – be it a horse, dog, or any companion. Being able to have his supper, lay down and go to sleep IS peaceful – the best way.

  2. We can all use a break from the vitriol and frustration of Facebook. My goal is to be a bit more like Edgar each day. Give him an ear rub or a butt scratch for me.

  3. I don’t like Facebook, either. So many times, it’s just so mean – ‘anonymous’ bullying. Thank you for all you do, Anna – I’ve been following you for years – my trainer and I went to one of your first clinics in Illinois. I’ve been so fortunate to have a trainer who has trained ‘outside the box’ of typical training methods since the 80’s. Sometimes I used to think it was just ‘opposition reflex’ to whatever everyone else was doing(!) LOL

    • It feels that way. I constantly hear people say I tell them to do the opposite of all they know. But it works.
      Good to hear from you, coming back that way this year, I think.
      And so glad you have a trainer you like. Thanks for you kind words.

  4. Please continue with your thoughts. Those of us that truly love our horses need your inspirational words. Please know that you are loved and appreciated.

  5. This turned out very well in my opinion. Hard truths mixed with humor go down so much easier, and you write in that vein so well. I also read your 2011 blog; guess I didnt follow you then, but the.power of smiles & a light heart were so helpful in my work with Zen Bear & learned that from you.

    Lets hope all can make the migration to the Barn School ! Feeling younger & thinner sounds good to me !

    John & Yoko’s peace song is now playing in my head, over & over

  6. Have never had the inclination to “facebook”. Too much drama & frankly, I’m too dam old to put up with some anonymous human being’s criticism and meanness. Like most of us – I had enough of that years ago – without facebook.
    Congratulations, Anna (and Edgar)
    This blog and the Barn school work for me. I went & read the 2011 post too – must have been before I found you! Good one.

  7. I confess, I love the living address book aspect of Facebook, but….. good riddance if they can’t treat you right. My son’s account got hacked and destroyed three or four years ago and he didn’t create a new page and has never looked back. He’s 27 now. Barn School is good. Forward!

    • I love the ideal of FB, how it was in 2008 when it kept me company. Business changes all of it. We are fight like gladiators. It doesn’t happen on my author page, or personal page. Go figure. Thanks, Linda

  8. Thanks for your continued work and writing. I do not comment very often to anything but I really appreciate you and your message. Keep it up. My sister Annette convinced me to check you out a few years ago. I am glad I did. Steve in Oglesby

  9. Leaving FB is a further step to freedom, but then, I’m biased as I chose to never join it, based on a gut instinct.
    My Fred has similar views to Edgar😀

    • Thanks, Annie. Left to myself, I wouldn’t be on FB either. Being in business, it’s almost required. My clients find me there. Or they used to.

  10. I didn’t know you were on FB until just a few months ago, so no loss for me personally. But still can imagine how difficult it is for people (and you) to divorce themselves from the FB route. I hope it all works out for everyone after the dust settles.

  11. Great gain…

    Fake aka Facebook also provides paedophiles, bullies and dark political entities like Cambridge Analytica a platform from which to act and influence with impunity and no accountability. The blood in puddles and ponds taints oceans and the sharks homing in are megalodons.

  12. Anna, I have been following you for years and even turned my husband on to your delicious and oh so true writings. I probably did find you on FB. I had the exact same issue in 2023, FB locked me out of my own account and I figured pretty quickly that no one was going to get back to me or help me retrieve my account. They probably do it every day to 1000s of people! I re-joined FB only because I am part of a lot of horse groups and actually have learned a lot (mostly about food, supplements, enrichment, pasture management, track system etc; I don’t ride and our mustangs aren’t “trained”), but I do find it a very tricky environment, can be very toxic. I am glad you have found other ways to be online, and I will be sure to send your way anyone who I think can hear what you are saying.

    I have learned SO MUCH from your writings and it has always validated what I felt from day 1 when I adopted my first two wild mustangs, not having had horses prior, and feeling that everything “the horse people” said was the exact opposite of how I wanted to be with my horses. It has been and continues to be the journey of a lifetime 🙂

    • Music to my ears, Vittoria. Thank you for following along. And there are great groups on FB, you’re right. That’s why it’s so hard. Most of all, thank you for bringing me along on your mustang adventure. Here’s to horses.

    • I started to say “Wow” adopting 2 mustangs & no previous horse experience?” Then I thought – that might have been the best way of learning about wild horses – without earlier domestic horse experience to influence how you treated them.
      I’m thinking your mustangs are very fortunate to be where they are.
      Too many wild ones just never get to a place like that once they are rounded up.

      • Oh Maggie, thank you. And so true. I rode as a teen in England for a very short time. As much as I loved horses back then and always, the structured ways did not work for me.
        I fell in love with mustangs watching the ‘Cloud’ documentary back in the 90s 😃 and read as much as I could about mustangs for 10 years…and learned a lot. I did not think I was going to adopt them myself 😂 but I did. It has definitely altered my life’s path, as maybe only horses can do.


Leave a Comment