clicker training


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



Susannah has an OTTB mare named Fawn. Fawn raced, not brilliantly, then was purchased by a family inexperienced around horses. A few years later Fawn went to a similar home. Then Susannah bought her. After a few months of getting to know Fawn, Susannah was ready to get to work […]

Catching A Horse Is In the Details


Here in New England, it’s the beginning of horse show season. There are tune-up schooling shows to go to, and we dressage riders are mapping out which USDF recognized shows to enter later this summer. I like showing, and Tonka seems to, too.   We’ve certainly done well since entering […]

“Success” With Your Horse


In an ideal world, your horse confidently walks with you anywhere. A comfortable halter and lead rope provide for subtle, tactile information. Turn here. Slow down. Wait.   However, when faced with something worrisome, a horse might need more from you. We’ve all been there. A horse won’t get in the […]

Effective Luring For Horses