Relaxed & Forward Blog

Photo & Poem: Words

“You’re not wearing that, are you?” Voicing her anxiety first, was my blouse revealing something more than unconventional taste? Welcoming...

Deconstucting Fear with Affirmative Training

  Something is off with your horse, but you can't tell what. You might be leading him or you might...

Photo & Poem: Sunset to Dark

Talking with her while I walk the farm, I say look what you’ve done with the new grass. Earth sends...

Affirmative Training and Corrections You Regret.

People tell me that when they're with their horses, they aren't always perfect. They sound apologetic, you'd think I wore...

Photo & Poem: No Gloves

The woman doesn’t make a good first impression. Her hair is dry as straw under a ball cap from Tractor...

Edgar Rice Burro on Covid-19 and Physical Distancing (on World Donkey Day)

  Does Covid-19 impact my herd? The email asked, "I wonder if you've noticed the quieter world in your horses?...

Photo & Poem: Slap Hands

Sit next to Jack, she said. Mother’s youngest brother on leave from the Army at our kitchen table. He pinched...

It Could Be Worse. You Could Be Married to Me.

"Honey, when you're in town will you pick something up for me?" I don't quite wait for the answer. "Great,...

Photo & Poem: Aged-Out

Aged-out with his horse, he said, like a sell-by date in the grocery store. We all stop riding, just a...

How to Be a Safe Anchor for Your Horse

For us long-timers, if we've been lucky, it feels like we're always standing in a ghost herd. They're good company...

Photo & Poem: Breakout

  Our horses are not young, neither are we. We negotiate with winter, bartering against the wind that our horses...

A Calming Signal Way of Being

  I have to credit a decent mid-life crisis for changing the course of my horse life. Not that I...

Photo & Poem: Limbo

  As if struck by lightning, the horse died; a clean and horrible quiet. No diagnosis, no cure, no negotiation....

Affirmative Training and Trust During an Emergency

  You started with horses the same way most of us were taught. You tried to show them who's boss,...

Photo & Poem: Home Farm

The mare stands square, extending her neck, surveying the pond marsh. Are the coyotes on the move? She takes three...

Horses and Common Sense.

Not long after I moved to the farm, a friend brought her two young kids out. We all walked the...

Photo & Poem: Soundness

Centering myself behind the horse as he walks away, bent forward with my hands on my knees, staring his hips...

Training Advice for Horses in the Spring

    "Egads, stand back! It's spring and all those flighty chestnut Arabians are...

Photo & Poem: Body Voice

One horse flicks his ear, still grazing, another pauses his jaw, his tail still amid flies. The mare lifts her...

Horsewoman, A Computer Can Smell Your Fear…

  We are horsewomen. We muck 13,505 pounds of manure a year... per horse, and you know we don't own...

Photo and Poem: Spring Thaw

  The air hung heavy, strangely moist for a desert prairie. Dense fog as rare as raindrops. The ice on...

Let Perfection Go. Try Consistency.

Here is a shortlist of the things horses don't understand: Sarcasm. Exploitation. Shaming. Guilt. Drama. These are human behaviors that...

Photo & Poem: Two Women

I had the window seat on an early morning flight to Tucson. In the row ahead were two women. I...

Riding a Princely Trot

Is your horse uncomfortable in the trot? He might toss his head or maybe his strides are short and choppy....

Photo & Poem: Coyote Run

Ancient mountains send coarse sand and sharp stone down, just pebbles at a time, to leave us unsteady on our...

Walk, The Queen of Gaits

  Some riders keep to the walk, a sweet sashay that's almost a lollygag. They want their horse to stay...

Photo & Poem: Pride

She has no time for gentle words and soft hands primping her mane. The broad-chested mare may allow a stiff...

Escalation: Finding the Thing Before the Thing.

It feels like you wake up in the middle of a movie, one of those thriller-action plots that have too...

Photo & Poem: Natural. Magic.

  The young visitor stared at the bay mare’s mane. “Would you like to brush her?” I ask. Sending the...

The Next Horse: Remounting after the Hardest Fall of All

    This perfect horse of yours has been with you since he was young, or you got him near...

Photo & Poem: Hunger Moon

Fresh snow fell yesterday and more will come tomorrow, but in the still between-time, a full moon sits high in...

Spring and Horses That Fly Like Kites.

Left: A breathtaking view of Pikes Peak from my pasture. Right: An aerial view (from the...

Photo & Poem: Hand-Me-Downs

  Leota would send a note warning that she’d put something in the mail and we waited. She was a...

Calming Signals: Sleeping with a Reactive Dog

    I don't mind bragging; I've slept with some very fine dogs in the course of my long and...

Photo & Poem: To Soar

  Alone in the sky, her broad wings create their own horizon, as she...

Calming Signals: Yoga Mind/Equine Reality

The Dude Rancher and I practice yoga. We started years ago; he was having way too many headaches and my...

Photo & Poem: Secrets

She attended church with joyless obligation, lip-syncing hymns that praised suffering, with dentures that never quite fit, never a genuine...

What the Nightmare Revealed

Everyone did what instinct dictated. The beach was so peaceful. Deserted with not so much as a footprint when they...

Photo & Poem: Second Cup

Second cup of coffee while waiting for light, a second cup while waiting to head out. The horses have thick...

Cantankary: If Not Now, When?

Expecting New Year's resolutions from me? Nope, I'm not the type. I am so thrilled to have survived another year...

Photo & Poem: Horsewoman

There were always horses, some light and some dark. The woman met them in passing or they stayed forever, some...

The Future for Horse-Keepers: Isolation or World Change?

It's what we do: We keep horses. Sometimes a foal too young to be ridden, so we show patience and...

Photo & Poem: Letting Him Lead

  You were there the day he was born, all ears and knees. You knew him when his hooves were...

Part One: The Future for Horses, a Different Narrative about Herd Dynamics

The first story I remember about herd dynamics was that stallions lived on the rise above the valley to watch...

Photo & Poem: Rich

  Our family farm was leased from the man who owned the car dealership in town. Once or twice a...

Calming Signals: How to Show Love

"How do you show your love for horses, then?" A clinic participant asked me at the end of a long...

Photo & Poem: Girl-Cousin

Seems every farm family had one in a generation; a distant misfit girl-cousin who read too much or wore men’s...

In Training to Be a Late Bloomer

He was a bona fide dressage master. We were lucky to have him come for a clinic. It was the...

Photo & Poem: Waiting for the Vet

  No days like the golden photos on the calendar from the gas company, propane topped off at the first...

Life Coach: The Goat Version

It was a beautiful end-of-summer afternoon, just about feeding time. Cupid had been with us for almost a year by...

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