behavior


Icelandic horses have, over a thousand years, adapted to the landscape. There’s a lot to adapt to. Dark winters. Snow. Ice. Rain. Wind.   Icelandic horses are stout, sturdy, have thick coats, and those hindquarters are sloped for a reason – rain and snow sheets off. There is little in […]

Icelandic Horses And The Wind


Summer is a Quarter Horse who was rescued from the kill pen by Rita. She is one lucky mare. Rita is lucky, too, because Summer is a super little horse. Summer does, of course, have issues, but Rita accepts and accommodates them. In return, Summer adores her person. I was […]

Being Calm is Self-reinforcing


Today, Karen Pryor and I went on our annual autumnal outing to apple orchards. We buy this and that, what catches our fancy. This year both of us couldn’t resist the five varieties of plums grown at Westward Orchards, nor the delicata squash, still with dirt on them, from Carlson […]

Karen Pryor And Tonka



In my last post I wrote about how horses can show herd-bound behavior in some situations and not others. I have a story for you to further illustrate this. Tonka lives in a barn with seven horses.   There are only six grass paddocks. During the day, all of the […]

Herd Bound, Continued


I can ride Tonka past the paddocks and into the woods, and he doesn’t give the barn a backward glance. He loads willingly into the trailer and looks forward to adventures off of the farm. We can arrive at a trail head where there are other horses, and he’ll sometimes […]

Situationally Herd Bound


There’s an expression in riding that you “throw your heart over the fence and your horse will follow.” The idea is that if you have courage and are committed to a path, that your horse will bravely carry you there. If only it were that simple. You can throw your […]

Heart First



As I wrote about recently, Tonka was going great, and then he wasn’t. All four legs were working fine, but instead of going willingly, he felt tight and recalcitrant. In this video clip you see him putting his nose in the air, sinking his back, and refusing to trot. I […]

One Step Back, Three Ahead


Yesterday Tonka was ticked off at me. He made it very clear. I had to look back through my archives to find a photo to illustrate his demeanor. This does it. Pinned ears, narrow nostrils, tight lips, tense neck, eyes showing some white. This is a pissed off horse.   […]

Tonka is Ticked Off


Tonka and I have been having a good summer. He’s been happy and sound. We’ve been competing – successfully! – in the dressage arena. Dressage is an incremental sport. You achieve one movement and you work towards the next, each builds on what came before and each is a slight […]

Knowing When To Ease Up