horse body language


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


It’s still raining. The grass paddocks are a soggy mess and the horses are being kept in. Tonka has an in/out stall, which means he isn’t confined to his box, but also has access to an attached dirt area the size of two more stalls. At least he gets fresh […]

Rainy Day Play


In my quest to keep Tonka comfortable under saddle, I’ve been taking second looks at my routine and my gear. (Read about why I changed his bit here.) Some things I do as a matter of rote. I’ve used the same style and brand of girth for the last five […]

Girth Too Tight?



It was bound to happen. You know we’d have to jump. Tonka is a dressage and trail horse. But we’re now at a hunter/jumper barn. There are always jumps in the ring. We’ve been using the poles for gymnastic work. Tonka enjoys it. A couple of times a month, the […]

Tonka Jumps


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


When I purchased Tonka (not quite six years ago), he went in a simple double-jointed snaffle with an oblong bean in the middle. This is considered one of the least intrusive bits that one can use. Tonka didn’t come with tack, so I tried to find a similar bit. After […]

A Change Of Bit



I’ve been looking into horses’ eyes lately. Literally and figuratively. In November, l’ll be talking at Equine Affaire about the horse’s senses, how their view of the world impacts how they behave, and how we can use that knowledge to interact with them with understanding and effectiveness. Sight is the […]

Your Horse’s Vision


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