clicker training


Sunflower and Nymph are two little burros. Sunflower is the mama, Nymph the baby. A few years ago, when Nymph was still nursing, they were in a horrific hoarding situation, but were saved by kind people, and made their way to a forever home at a rescue. They’ve had loving […]

Donkey Leg Handling


I’ve got a busy week coming up. I’m putting the finishing touches on my presentations for Equine Affaire and getting ready to travel down to Springfield, MA for that, so I’ve no time for a thoughtful and carefully crafted blog. But I don’t want to leave this site blank for […]

What I’ve Been Up To


As a dressage rider, I obsess over every every stride. I care where each hoof is placed, where the shoulder is, how my horse carries his head, the tilt of his jaw. Everything. In trying to position Tonka’s body just so, it’s easy to turn into a nagging rider. As […]

Let Your Horse Think



I’ve wanted to have long ears in my life for ages. However, donkeys and mules are a lifelong commitment (they can live 4 decades) and require specialized care. You can’t just pop one into your backyard. Happily for me, Jessica Gonzalez lives only 10 minutes up the road from me […]

Genius Donkey


When I train a horse to do a behavior, I care about more than whether they accomplish the task itself. I want them willing, relaxed and focused. If the mental attitude isn’t calm yet eager, then I stop and evaluate what’s going on. But that assessment isn’t easy and I’m […]

The Horse’s Bigger Picture


Dressage people call riding in the ring, “playing in the sandbox.” That’s just what we did on Sunday. For most of this year I didn’t think that Tonka was going well enough to compete, and the one show that we did go to confirmed that assessment. Recently, though, Tonka has […]

We’re Back in the Sandbox



Behavior doesn’t happen out of the blue. Spooks don’t happen for no reason. You – the rider – might not see, hear, smell, or otherwise notice what your horse is reacting to, but it’s there. Sometimes what the horse is worried about is something harmless. If you have a good […]

Spooking Is Communication. Listen!


I’m at an art festival with my husband. We’re holding hands. I see something that I want to look at. I walk towards it, he feels where I’m going through our hands. He follows. He gets distracted by something and he stops, he pulls lightly on my hand so I […]

The Halter As Welcome Information


Susannah called me in because she wanted to be able to tack up her mare, Fawn, without her horse showing signs of worry. The first thing that I do is watch the baseline behavior, and then tease apart the components. Here is how Fawn reacted when Susannah stepped towards her […]

Standing Still For Saddling