horse body language


Recently, the buzzwords in animal training and welfare are choice and autonomy. The thinking is that the more animals have control over their own lives, the healthier they’ll be emotionally and physically. Certainly, giving the animal an environment in which they can choose their level of comfort – shady or […]

Choice and Autonomy


Some injuries are easy to diagnose and treat. When a horse stepped on me, it was obvious that he broke a bone in my foot, and the treatment plan was straightforward. I was told, in plain English, to ice, elevate, protect it in a boot, and rest. I might not […]

Tonka’s Personal Trainer


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


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?



Tonka and I have been going for walks.   The walking is in addition to riding. Although Tonka is turned out during the day, he doesn’t move much. Not in the snow. Not when hay is right at his feet.   A horse is designed to eat and move. Bite. […]

Walking With My Horse


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


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