When Horses Can’t “Do” The Clinic…

Lena was elegant in that special way that Thoroughbred mares can be. Her face had long planes and gentle curves with a classically simple beauty. She made her bay color look like burnt honey. There was no question about her intelligence. But her flank was tight, and she was in a bit of trouble. Sometimes, … Read more

When Impatience and Cruelty are Normalized

Sometimes I find myself standing in front of people talking about horses’ feelings. I’m almost embarrassed; I was raised to be tough. Yes, I cite scientific research. Inside, I still hear my father curse me for spoiling horses, but most people didn’t think horses had feelings in his day. Except I think part of us … Read more

Reverse Anthropormophism: Building A Better Relationship

Do you ever go to the barn and pretend to be a cowboy? You’d wear the shirt that matched your saddle pad and put on a Hell Hat. You’d take a deep seat and a faraway look, you’d make out over the land for the herd, whether you have one or not. Horses can like … Read more

Horses Are Like Bad Boyfriends (Or Why the Wrong Answer Might Be Better)

Horses are like bad boyfriends because they only want to talk about themselves. Wait, let me explain. First of all, it isn’t a pejorative term. I’ve had enough bad boyfriends to know that I prefer them, for many of the same reasons I like bad dogs. Sure, we have to give up having “relationship talks” … Read more

Our Horses, Ourselves: Simple Steps to Having More Confidence

Want to do a kindness for your horse? Perhaps show your affection in a “love language” that suits horses? Did I just do that? Refer to a nineties self-help book for couples? Yes, let me give you the gist: maybe you want flowers but your partner changes the oil in your truck. Expressing love is … Read more

Why “Ride ’em Through It” Is a Bad Idea

“Sure, your horse is tossing his head and wringing his tail, but you push him on. More leg. Ride ’em through it. More leg!” Or “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Or maybe something simple like, “Ask your horse to walk out.” It could be a trainer saying it, maybe it’s … Read more

Affirmative Training: Response Time and a Hail Mary Pass

My client and I were having an online meeting. We’d been working on a systematic process of getting her and Bradley, her gelding, back to riding. It’s a process that I’ve developed that has space for horses and riders to be individuals, and more than traditional training, we focus on listening to calming signals and … Read more

A Short List of Unfair Things to Ask a Horse

Old mares have a constant dilemma. They get stiff and stove-up. They’re stoic so they don’t whine about it, but they have small feet in proportion to their large body. They lose muscle over the years, their necks are arthritic, their joint fluid turns to sandpaper. The human said she should go for a walk … Read more

Tunnel Vision for Problems and the Things We Don’t Notice

  The night-feed is my favorite. In the summer, the sky and clouds are as gaudy as the underwear department at the dollar store. If they have an underwear department, which I’m a little proud that I don’t know. The light loiters over the pond, as my farm exhales the day and rolls it to … Read more

Patience in Real Time

A clinic organizer was telling me about a trainer she brought in, someone whose approach was significantly more aggressive than mine. I asked how it worked to have such different approaches for the same riders and she said, “Oh no, he has the same training theory as you do. He told me that for a … Read more