behavior


The forecast for the next couple of days is for high humidity, full sun, and temperatures in the mid-90s. Here in New England that’s considered HOT. The animals know how to cope. The little dog sleeps in.   I wilt in this weather but I need to ride Tonka. After […]

Heat Strategies


Miniature horses are often pasture pets. They’re loved on, but rarely trained. Adorable, but taken for granted. I was brought in to train this massive Percheron cross to walk safely onto and off of a trailer. After two visits to the farm this little guy had a conversation with me. […]

Training Is Fun for Everyone


Everything that we do is behavior. Even breathing – whether you are gulping air in a panic, or inhaling and exhaling in a relaxed yoga state – is a response to your environment and what’s going on in it. Before we do what we do there are antecedents – triggers […]

The Rewarding World



Yesterday I drove Tonka an hour south to the Tufts University Cummings Veterinary Medical Center Hospital For Large Animals. I’m extremely fortunate to have this world-class facility nearby. Right now, though, the parking lot is a construction site. We arrived to the sound of large and small machines and much commotion. […]

Tonka’s Prognosis


Something wasn’t quite right with Tonka. He trusts that when he tells me that he hurts, that I’ll listen and respond. I do. But I don’t always know exactly what he’s saying. It’s even more difficult to hear his message when it keeps changing. At the end of January I […]

Cascading Health Issues


After riding, Tonka and I have a routine. He taught it to me. The bridle comes off   and I rub the corners of his lips. They’re itchy from saliva and sweat.   He also likes the insides of his lips massaged.   Tonka tells me when he’s had enough […]

Thank You Scratches



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