Calming Signals and the Myth of Desensitizing

  This chestnut mare is all that. Alert. Intelligent. Willing. And in possession of the quickest response time of any domestic animal; seven times quicker than us. Each of her senses is better than ours by a good bit, but then we hardly use the senses we do have. We’re so unaware of our surroundings, … Read more

Calming Signals and Implicit Bias.

The Barnies are really hitting their stride. I started an online subscription group earlier this year called The Barn. Soon after someone referred to the members as Barnies and it stuck. The name makes me smile, and in the beginning, there was a free-for-all of good intention. My training approach is very different, the focus … Read more

When Nice People Carry Whips.

“I just carry the whip. I don’t use it.” “I do liberty with my horse, it’s just an extension of my arm.” “I only hold one, it’s just part of the outfit.” “I would never hurt my horse.” Other riders see carrying a whip as an evil thing. A sign of human cruelty. Fine, claim … Read more

What to Do When You See Cruelty

It was a sadly normal week in the larger horse world. Horses got hurt and humans waged war with each other about it. If you love horses, it’s easy to blame everyone in sight, easy to scream with vitriol and make sure everyone knows you are better than the haters who hurt horses. Social media … Read more

Calming Signals: Trust Above Training

It was my job to haul him to his new trainer. He was a bright young gelding, some would call him hot, as if having too much anxiety was just how some horses are naturally. I’d call him low on confidence, not a crime in a young horse. He pranced a bit on the lead, … Read more

Aggressive or Assertive?

She was a breathtaking draft-cross mare who I met at Duchess Sanctuary this year. There was just a presence about her that made it impossible to look away. She came up for a closer look but didn’t pander. Standing her ground, there was nothing she wanted from me and I asked nothing of her. I … Read more

Affirmative Training for Colts and Fillies

  Foals are irresistible. They are precocious and lively; they cavort and air gallop and sleep flat-out. When they wake up, they’re an inch taller and even more curious about the world than before their nap. They have newborn piaffes and sliding stops. They jump like frogs. They are a fresh start, a whole new … Read more

Brain Science as a Training Aid

  It was a two-day-long science class and we were promised a brain dissection. I signed up immediately and have had the weekend marked off on my calendar for months. I can’t imagine you don’t want to hear all about it. Our instructor was Dr. Stephen Peters, (Psy.D., ABN, Diplomate in Neuropsychology) a neuroscientist, horse … Read more

Photo & Poem: Hand

  One draws attention, standing by a tolerant gelding and playing the horse whisperer, tickling withers, teasing his whiskery muzzle. Passive violence in the guise of a scratch, demanding an involuntary response ripped with conflict, pulsing with agitation. One demands sweaty perfection, the mare never exactly good enough, but rewarded at last, one ringing slap, … Read more

Affirmative Training and Spoiling Horses

Most of us hear voices. We might be working with our horses on an issue and floundering in the moment, because we hear a threatening voice in our heads. It could haunt us from the past; a trainer from decades ago, something said on a video or written. For some of us, the harsh threat … Read more