Relaxed & Forward Blog

A Barn Visit and a Fresh Reminder About Predator and Prey

It’s a thing called a Barn Visit. I offer them to clients mainly, those I’ve worked with online through the...
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Mental Maturity in Horses

Darryl, Darryl, and his other brother, Darryl I've never been good at remembering dates, so sometimes...
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Unwanted Favors: What’s the Affirmative Response to “No”?

Last month, we were in Texas and I'm still thinking about a near-altercation between two dog owners. I was one...
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Why “Ride ’em Through It” Is a Bad Idea

"Sure, your horse is tossing his head and wringing his tail, but you push him on. More leg. Ride 'em...
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What’s Love Got To Do With It? [Horse Version]

We love horses. We love to say it loud and proud. We love the ones we grew up with and...
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A Training Question About Hurrying Horses …and a Grass Fire

I see people in the grocery store thoughtfully reading labels and pondering choices. The Dude Rancher and I look like...
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“Why is Everything With Horses So Hard?”

"Can Competition Horses be Trained Affirmatively?" she asked. I know why she asks. This rider has been trained to think...
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The Simple Truth About Complicated Training

It was back around the time the light bulb was invented. My Grandfather Horse was a lanky spooky colt, I...
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Affirmative Training: Response Time and a Hail Mary Pass

My client and I were having an online meeting. We'd been working on a systematic process of getting her and...
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Calming Signals: They Call Me Mister Dog!!!

Sidney Poitier died this year and I mourn him. I was not the only girl who swooned over him in...
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Being the Railbird: Anniversary Edition

Beware: Colorado Prairie Railbirds, guaranteed to spook more people more than horses. A reader gave me...
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Does it Feel Like Everyone is Watching You?

It's you and your horse. Sometimes people looking at him think he isn't much but that's because they don't know...
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Training Your Horse: Spring Fever and Fluid Goals

Ants in your pants. It was a childhood affliction constantly mentioned by adults when we couldn't sit still in church...
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A Short List of Unfair Things to Ask a Horse

Old mares have a constant dilemma. They get stiff and stove-up. They're stoic so they don't whine about it, but...
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A Different Leg Cue

"My horse won't go forward!" the rider says. Many trainers respond with the traditional battle cry, "More leg!" What does...
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Forging a Path: What to Do Next With Your Horse.

It's that time of winter when you half-think spring isn't real. Are you frustrated with how you and your horse...
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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...
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Calming Signal Substitutions: Helping Your Horse

Most of us are old enough to remember what a rolled-up newspaper is for. Wacking the dog, of course. Because...
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What Does it Mean to be Domesticated?

If you have been reading along for the last 1300 or so weekly essays of mine, you know sometimes I...
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Finding the Ground But In a Good Way

Our T'ai Chi master told us to drop our weight? I was barely legal and my fledgling art career was...
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Auld Lang Syne Horses

I've heard it a couple of times just today: "As we head into the third year of Covid..." It makes...
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A Love Letter to Dirt.

It's the eve of Christmas Eve and I'm worried about my dirt. Maybe the world has bigger problems and maybe...
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Patience in Real Time

A clinic organizer was telling me about a trainer she brought in, someone whose approach was significantly more aggressive than...
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Brain Science and the Art of Play

It's cold on the flat windy treeless prairie of Colorado. The next few months will be even colder but right...
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Relaxed & Forward in 2022. Now What?

The lockdown at the beginning of 2020, followed by months of quarantine, was a wonderful opportunity for a thoughtful assessment...
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Thanksgiving is for the Dogs.

Here are two of my dogs, Preacher Man and Manning, guarding the back door. You'll notice they are facing the...
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Gray Mares, Time, and Priorities

Do you notice that it gets a little easier to be yourself every day? Public speaking wasn't the sort of...
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Is Your Horse Distracted?

You want the horse to focus on the task and do it. Let's say your horse needs to stand still....
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Why Don’t You Ride?

"Why don't you ride?" It's the question we dread. Sometimes the people who ask are neophytes who don't understand that...
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Human Calming Signals: What Counterfeit Means

Back in the day, there was a word used when talking about a stoic horse that who seemed almost too...
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Calming Signals. You Can’t Save ‘Em All. Cat Version.

I walk in my pasture. Women of a certain over-thinking age do well to put a few miles in a...
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How Horses Train Us

You are a horse trainer. It does not always give me joy to say so, but it's true and other...
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What Does Having a Connection With a Horse Mean?

What does it mean to have a connection with a horse? You just know I'm going to be a loudmouth...
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A Legacy of Homegrown Ingenuity and Bull-Headed Confidence

I am the great-granddaughter of pioneers. They traveled far, mixed their blood with those not like them, and built lives...
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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...
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Your Horse’s Memory is Your Best Training Aid.

My friend, Bruce, died from colic one year ago today. You are remembered. Our memories of...
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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...
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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...
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Boundaries: Whose Space Is It?

Horses gallop on pounding hooves that cut the ground and then melt to a stop, whiskers floating in the light....
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The Problem with Pre-Corrections on Horses.

She enters the barn, looking left to right. What does she think her horse might be afraid of? First, let's...
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Is She Still Going On About Helmets?

Riding Habit 1801 Yes. I've been writing in support of helmet use since the start. I...
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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...
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For the Fragility of a Horse…

"When we see horses galloping with ears sharp, tails flagged, and hooves churning up the soil, they are the epitome...
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Beyond Legal Whiskers

The International Federation for Equestrian Sports unanimously banned horse whisker trimming, effective 1 July 2021. Horses snort and rub their...
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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...
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Calming Signals and Feculence

I'm responding to a request to write a few words about poop. "BM, defecation, excrement, fecal matter, the deuce, sh*t,...
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Calming Signals: Planning for Stress

Calming signals are an animal's emotional response to their environment, expressed in body language, sometimes in increasing anxiety moving toward...
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Homeschooling Your Horsemanship

  In one online class this week, a woman in Maine said it was 90 degrees that day and her...
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Part of Your Horse Stays Behind

When it came time to say goodbye to my dressage mentor, a trainer that I'd ridden with several times a...
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Why Horses Don’t Multi-task

Imagine what it means to have senses as keen as a prey animal. Feel the roar of nature even on...
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