behavior


Only in a laboratory does training happen in a sterile box. The real world is complex and changing. It’s impossible to keep the environment the same from training session to session. The list of potential distractions is long – it’s windy, a fly bites, a car backfires, a horse whinnies, someone walks by eating an […]

Context Matters


My friend, Michele, is a dog person. She and her husband like to have a house full of them. Not too long ago, her pack was sadly reduced to only two. These two dogs were perfect, and got along with each other and with the cats. They went for daily off-leash walks […]

Self-control Leads to Happiness


As much as I enjoy working Tonka in a ring (click on the dressage category to the right to read posts about that), I believe in balancing that schooling with time on the trail. Not only is it good cross-training, but it makes both of us happy. Even when there’s snow […]

From Fearful to Calm



We’ve all heard Horses are prey animals. It’s followed up by the statement: We’re predators. This is then used to justify certain training techniques. It’s claimed that since horses are naturally afraid of us, that we have to train them differently than we do, say our dogs. I don’t agree. Because of the uniqueness of […]

Horses and the Predator/Prey Mythology


I’ve not been blogging much lately, but I have been busy. I’ve been working one-on-one with horses and their owners. People come to me because the training methods they’ve been using haven’t been effective. There’s usually something specific that they haven’t been able to do, whether it’s getting a horse onto trailer, or having the […]

Observation, Relationship, Training


I recently started working with four horses. Three are minis. They were rescued from a hoarding situation. The other is a BLM Mustang, which means she was collected on the open range, shunted from holding pen to holding pen, shipped across the country, put in yet another pen, then finally adopted by her […]

To Click or Not?



Remember Nate?   When I first met him, he sent out signals loud and clear: DO NOT TOUCH. All horses will pin ears and wrinkle their lips when they want you to go away. But Nate had taken it a step further. He bit. He bit when feeling threatened. He […]

Progress with a Biting Horse


I’m pulling out a behavior science term today because it explains a lot about what horses do that can drive you a bit crazy. The science can give you a different and more generous way to view their behavior. So geek out with me here. Emancipated Behavior: behaviors that are performed […]

Emancipated Behavior


I use food rewards when training, but not in all scenarios. Here’s why. I train by identifying the behavior that I want, setting up scenarios that make it doable, and then rewarding the animal when it happens. I want to be able to get that behavior numerous times, the more […]

Training With Food – Sometimes