behavior


Tonka has a reputation at the boarding stable for being a quiet, well-behaved horse. Among the staff, he’s a favorite. What’s not to love? Tonka is adorable, affectionate and easy to handle. Which is why it surprised the heck out of the barn girl on Friday morning when Tonka pranced […]

Keeping My Horse Mellow


I am always mindful that horses have the potential to hurt their handlers. There are horses who are obviously dangerous, who threaten and use their bodies to inflict harm. But most aren’t like that. Most are amenable and cooperative beings. Still, horses are big, and they can move quickly and […]

A Break In Stride


This is how a horse should get onto a trailer. Blasé.   Easier said than done. A horse has good reason to be wary of getting onto a trailer. Here’s a partial list: The ramp and floor sound hollow. Horses like solid ground. Simply walking on causes it to move slightly. […]

Horse Trailer Loading



The first evening at the new barn, Tonka did not eat all of his grain. The owners and staff were concerned. I took Tonka’s temperature. It was a healthy 99º F. Other than ignoring his meal, he looked okay. By morning, the grain was gone, his manure piles were normal, […]

Settling In


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