behavior


Which do you think is scarier to my horse? This:   or this? The answer is the branch! Although Tonka has settled calmly into his new home, and has seen that downed pine bough every day since he’s arrived, when I tried to ride past it, Tonka deemed it something […]

What’s Scary?


For the last year, Tonka has been at a boarding barn which gave him impeccable care – a deeply bedded stall, clean water, daily all-day turnout, and excellent food. But it was a long drive for me, and there were no trails off of the property. In all honesty, Tonka […]

Tonka Moves Stables


Lately, Tonka has been making faces when I groom him. He’s clearly telling me that he doesn’t want to be brushed.   I ask him questions. What about being touched? He says he’d rather I don’t touch him if I’m moving my hand the same way that I do when […]

Grooming Tension



In January I bought a new (used) saddle. It fit great and Tonka let me know he liked it by going happily forward when ridden. But, neither saddles nor horses stay static. The saddle is filled (the horsey term is flocked) with wool. The stuffing compacts and shifts. I try […]

Tonka’s Saddle Fitting


I choose to live in New England. I like a true change of seasons. I embrace winter. The sky in February is like none other. Bare trees show off their intricate geometry. I like cold weather better than hot. But by March, I’m done with bundling up against the bitter temperatures, […]

A Lot Of Snow


There’s been a lot of press lately about raising resilient children. Educators and parents are noticing that kids aren’t able to recover from disappointment, or problem-solve solutions to obstacles. A culprit is the trend of adults to jump in and assist during even the smallest of challenges. To instill resiliency, […]

The Resilient Horse



Today I tried to get to the barn ahead of the nor’easter (which around here is what we call a serious storm with wind and precipitation.) By the time Tonka and I had finished our ride, the snow was coming down. I stopped outside of the arena to take a […]

Horse Snow Play


Tonka and I haven’t been off-farm in months. It’s winter in New England. The footing has been treacherous. On top of that, after cascading health issues, I’m carefully bringing him back into shape. But when it’s 60° F in February, and there’s only a few patches of snow left on […]

Tonka’s Disappointment


Recently, the buzzwords in animal training and welfare are choice and autonomy. The thinking is that the more animals have control over their own lives, the healthier they’ll be emotionally and physically. Certainly, giving the animal an environment in which they can choose their level of comfort – shady or […]

Choice and Autonomy