spooking etc.


On Sunday, after riding the jumper course (which for us was a series of poles on the ground) in the indoor arena at Coyote Spring Farm, Tonka and I went for a hack around the property. We were approached by a woman on her nice young grey mare. She said […]

Making It Look Easy


When riding, our view is between the horse’s ears, which makes us quite aware of their sense of hearing.   I’d always assumed that horses have far superior hearing to humans. Certainly, horses have better hearing than me! For most of my riding life, I’ve had a hearing loss (I […]

Your Horse’s Hearing


Horses evolved to live in wide-open, mostly monotone landscapes. Unlike humans, they didn’t need color to determine what was ripe and edible. Their food was at their hooves, and they used their whiskers to feel what was good to eat. What they did need to see were predators, which had […]

Horse Color Vision



When your horse is worried, it’s never nothing. I’ve written about this before. Tonka and I have ridden here a gazillion times. From the field, he can see his barn and his friends in their paddocks. It should be a worry-free place to do conditioning sets up and down the gentle […]

Tonka Knows More Than Me (continued…)


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!


Even Tonka, a most sensible horse, will spook. When I first got him, when scared, he’d scoot sideways, then, after a high-headed giraffe imitation, if he deemed whatever up ahead was scary, he’d back up. He backed me into stonewalls and trees. He would have backed off a cliff if […]

Riding A Spook



The woman who sold Tonka to me told me a story about him to explain his temperament. Her horses were turned out in big grassy fields in rural Maine. It was deer hunting season and shots were fired in the woods. All of the horses startled and bolted away from […]

Horse Temperament Test


I have a couple of adages that I ride and live by. One is ‘the slower you go, the faster you get there.’ Another is ‘the more you do, the more you do.’ I’m not a bold and brash rider. It’s all too easy to stay in my comfort zone. […]

The More You Do, The More You Do


It takes just one bad scare to change how your horse behaves from then on – for days, maybe months, maybe years, maybe forever. With observation, management and training, you can alleviate some of your horse’s fear, but you might not be able to “fix” it. I’m in this situation […]

Overcoming a Fearful Incident