behavior


For Tonka, 2017 was year of symptoms but no definitive diagnosis. It started with a slight head shaking. Then his back hurt. Then Tonka felt great and we had some rides where he did brilliant first level work. Then he couldn’t bend his neck. Then his back was sore again. […]

Getting Moving


I recently had to rework some sloppy training on my part. It took me awhile to notice that I’d let things slip. Tonka is a calm and amenable gelding. But even a horse like that is always adjusting their behavior to what their human is doing. Just because you’ve taught […]

Reworking Sloppy Training


All horses can potentially cause injury to us humans. Their vision, hearing and smell keeps them hyper-aware of danger, and their response to that is to put distance between themselves and the perceived threat. If prevented from fleeing, they will rear, kick and strike-out. Horses are especially wary of new […]

Desensitizing and Counter-Conditioning Horses



As I’ve written about before, Tonka and I have been walking. Mostly, we’ve been in the covered arena, on safe footing, and sheltered from bitter cold winds. Two weeks ago, during a break in the weather, we managed to get down the road a bit. Tonka was on alert, but […]

Barn Sour Drama


The stuff that a horse wears is called tack. Most tack is used either to control the horse, or to keep the rider on. What style of riding you do, what breed of horse you ride, your skill, the horse’s level of training, and your budget, determines what you put […]

Bit or Bitless?


This is what we’ve been waking up to. Some days it warms up to 12°F. The animals need to have full bellies to cope with this. At Tonka’s barn, they’ve been getting extra hay. Even more important than hay is water. If horses don’t drink, they get colic, which is […]

Boring is Okay



Steve gave me the most thoughtful Chanukah gift. He tracked down Tonka’s family. I purchased Tonka in December of 2013 from Amy, a horsewoman in Maine. For a couple of years Amy lived in Texas, and while there she saw Tonka, and knew that he was the one for her. […]

Tonka’s Family


Before I head out on the trail with Tonka, I always put horse cookies in my pocket. Along with a few boring hay stretcher pellets (Tonka likes these, but they don’t thrill him) I take a few yummier cookies, and also peppermints, which are rare and highly valued treats. Yesterday, […]

Cookies In My Pocket


Horses can go from a calm state like this:   to this: in the blink of an eye. You can be sitting on a horse, relaxed and chatting with a friend, when suddenly you and your horse are going at breakneck speed across the arena. People say He just freaked […]

It’s Never Nothing