How to See It Like a Horse

My friend was tracing her Arabian’s family tree. She’d driven north of Denver to see her horse’s sire and ran into a pathetic spotted colt that somehow reminded her of me. I was a self-employed artist barely making my bills, my relationship was failing, and I had a list of personal quirks that were entirely … Read more

What Horses Want to “Talk” About.

  What is it about the snout of an old horse? Especially a pink and black muzzle? How can it seem so wise to me? Or is it that over thirty years with this horse, I finally got wise to him? I confess that I disregarded his opinion in the early days. Disregarding the opinions … Read more

Is Affirmative Training Denial?

It was during a meeting in an online class called Back in the Saddle. We’d shared videos of the week’s work, each participant moving ahead at their own pace and level, and each person paired with a unique horse with a history of his own. Some were bringing horses back from time off, some of … Read more

Distraction: A Simple Answer for Bright Shiny Things

  Is your horse distracted? Is he always swinging his head at every noise? Does he knock you with his shoulder or just stop and freeze? Now people are coming. What will they think seeing you standing flat-footed with your horse looking like he might spontaneously combust? Maybe you jangle the rope; did you read … Read more

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 breath of fresh air to The Cowboy Way.” Words matter. The goal of affirmative training is to collect positive experiences for your horse. We never want to dominate or push too hard. Once the horse … Read more

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 you are and then I’d have to recite our altitude, I’m much closer to the sun. You’d have a retort and the places on my body that are clammy would only get clammier. I’d still … Read more

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 to get into the trailer. That isn’t the crazy part. The owner is tired and muttering something about how happy the horse should be to get in the trailer and go home. That part is … Read more

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 a clergy collar. Whatever they say after that is drowned out by my ghost herd nickering and snorting, bucking and farting, and rolling around in the mud. The equine afterlife has perfectly placed mud baths … Read more

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 but they’re not looking over us so much as being ready if we forget and start to feel a little cocky about knowing much. Then one of the herd will push past and an airy … Read more

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 wanted to change; I had two great horses and we were livin’ the dream, competing like I’d wanted to my whole life, and having fun doing it. I had good friends at the boarding facility … Read more