dressage


For me, the joy of riding is that mind-meld that happens when my horse and I are in sync and communication flows between us with subtlety and nuance. To achieve this, not only do I have to listen to and understand what Tonka is saying, but he has to understand me. […]

Saying “Thank You!” From The Saddle


Horses carry more than half of their weight on their forelegs – about 60%. But sometimes the scales tip even more to the front, and the horse ends up pulling themselves along. Going like that strains the front legs and causes the shoulder to work too hard. Put a rider […]

Reworking the Engine


You can train a horse to get on a trailer without balking, but for me, that’s not enough. I want Tonka to get on and have a cheerful, Where to? demeanor. And, I want him to arrive relaxed and ready. That’s asking a lot. Trailering means that Tonka is leaving […]

Happy Horse Trailering



It’s been a tough week. On Monday I had a 3.5 hour dentist appointment. I’m still achy. Don’t ask. Then I got a sore throat and sniffles. And had more snow to shovel. Today my landscape crew is here to remove the trees that came down this winter. I don’t […]

A Content Countenance


The best trainers, the ones who successfully teach others to do challenging behaviors, do it in a way that gives the learner optimism and keeps them engaged. Frustration is rare and the sense of accomplishment is pervasive. This isn’t because the teacher is a cheerleader that says good job! irregardless […]

Domino Teaching


It takes me upwards of 40 minutes to drive to where I board Tonka. Every day the drive feels like too much, but then I arrive, see that my horse has been cared for impeccably, and get to ride in this: This indoor is big, airy, and filled with sunshine. […]

The Indoor Arena Lean



Riding instructors talk a lot about aids – how you use your hands, seat and legs – to communicate what you want to the horse. I’d add another aid, and to me it’s at least as important as the others. Your eyes. Do this. Right now, look to the right. […]

Look, Focus, and Go


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


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?