Relaxed & Forward Blog

Photo & Poem: Forever Now

Walking past the mare, I let my hand follow the shape of her body, her hair so short it has...

What Will Happen if You Don’t Ride Today?

It's really hot here. How hot is it? I'm not saying. People get competitive. You'd just say it's hotter where...

Photo & Poem: Her Place

A stick pony to start, with a wooden head and twine for a mane. The tiny girl stomped unevenly, imagining...

Calming Signals and Living on the Ulcer Continuum

Forty years ago, we didn't know about ulcers. Some horses acted crazy and we tried to train them out of...

Photo & Poem: Midsummer

Midsummer, the mare stands square, hooves flat and neck low, her muzzle faced into the corner of a dark stall,...

Affirmative Training and the Rhythm Method

Remember when you first heard the term The Rhythm Method? I was almost certain it had to do with something...

Photo & Poem: Old Dog

A deliberate old dog pacing the yard fence with gray dreadlocks and a stiff stride. A mixed-breed badly constructed, a...

A Funny Thing Happened During the Euthanasia.

We've been having llama line dances here for over twenty years. It happens at dusk and it is boundingly beautiful....

Photo & Poem: As if Love

She declared that she loved her horse as if loving took a sort of noble skill rare to our kind....

Things My Dogs Don’t Care About.

I'm the kind of person who has big dogs. I always have been, not that my dogs care. I have...

Photo and Poem: Three-Quarter-Ton

  Driving home from the feed store on a back road, easing my foot from the gas pedal, the three-quarter-ton...

Long Dark Night of the Soul: Colic

Andante's nickering. I've pulled the hay out of his run and swept the mats. He has a baritone voice, a...

Photo & Poem: Sage Under-hoof

An elder red mare and her rider babysat us as we climbed in and out of ravines, my young horse...

Why Training Techniques Don’t Work

  It's Sunday night and the clinic has ended, but there might be a horse or two that can't seem...

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...

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