Relaxed & Forward Blog

Making Peace with Anxiety

A caption for this photo? "Dressage rider doesn't grasp the fundamentals of team penning." How about "Dressage rider brings a...
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Photo & Poem: Forever Now

Walking past the mare, I let my hand follow the shape of her body, her hair so short it has...
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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...
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Photo & Poem: Her Place

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

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

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

  Something is off with your horse, but you can't tell what. You might be leading him or you might...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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?...
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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...
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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,...
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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...
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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...
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Photo & Poem: Breakout

  Our horses are not young, neither are we. We negotiate with winter, bartering against the wind that our horses...
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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...
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Photo & Poem: Limbo

  As if struck by lightning, the horse died; a clean and horrible quiet. No diagnosis, no cure, no negotiation....
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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,...
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Photo & Poem: Home Farm

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

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

Centering myself behind the horse as he walks away, bent forward with my hands on my knees, staring his hips...
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Training Advice for Horses in the Spring

    "Egads, stand back! It's spring and all those flighty chestnut Arabians are...
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Photo & Poem: Body Voice

One horse flicks his ear, still grazing, another pauses his jaw, his tail still amid flies. The mare lifts her...
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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...
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Photo and Poem: Spring Thaw

  The air hung heavy, strangely moist for a desert prairie. Dense fog as rare as raindrops. The ice on...
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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...
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Photo & Poem: Two Women

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

Is your horse uncomfortable in the trot? He might toss his head or maybe his strides are short and choppy....
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Photo & Poem: Coyote Run

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

She has no time for gentle words and soft hands primping her mane. The broad-chested mare may allow a stiff...
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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...
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Photo & Poem: Natural. Magic.

  The young visitor stared at the bay mare’s mane. “Would you like to brush her?” I ask. Sending the...
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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...
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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...
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Spring and Horses That Fly Like Kites.

Left: A breathtaking view of Pikes Peak from my pasture. Right: An aerial view (from the...
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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...
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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...
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Photo & Poem: To Soar

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