Real-Time Communication: The Land of What-If

My horse always pulls his head away. My horse never wants to go first on the trail. My horse always fusses during vet calls. My horse never likes arena work. Humans love to show knowledge and predict an outcome. It demonstrates that we know our horses, have been in the situation before, and lived to … Read more

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

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 be riding. It could be in a strange place or in your home arena. He isn’t being resistant, but it’s not right. Then he sees something and goes very still. You try to see what … 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

Photo & Poem: Body Voice

One horse flicks his ear, still grazing, another pauses his jaw, his tail still amid flies. The mare lifts her head, intelligent brow above wide nostrils, while the elder gelding keeps his neck low, courting smells wafting on the breeze. A small movement in the distance, awareness passes through the herd, their breath in shallower … Read more

Calming Signals: A Vow of Silence

By now you should snort out loud when someone says their horse is ignoring them. Really, is there a more ridiculous thing to imagine? How could it be possible for a prey animal to ignore anything? Their survival depends on being situationally aware in every moment. You can make fun of a horse for staring … 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

Calming Signals: Do You Tease Your Horse?

There was a time that I had a basset hound named Agatha and a bunch of friends with toddlers. It was hell. See it from Agatha’s side. Toddlers are short and take uneven steps, moving more like a prey animal than a human. A tipsy bunny. And they are sticky-sweet, sometimes wearing a soiled diaper. … Read more

Calming Signals and Ambivalent Horses.

Humans are impatient worriers. On the high side, it means we care but we want to know everything immediately. Perhaps a predator way of thinking; we’re always on the hunt, stalking the perceptions that elude us. The more we chase, the more understanding hides. We crave control and we’re better at fighting than waiting. Gaining … Read more