horse body language


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



I’m giving four talks at Equine Affaire, Springfield, MA, this November. I need to provide the organizer with a small, square photo for them to use in the program. I thought that that a candid barn photo would be appropriate as I’ll be presenting about horse behavior and communication and […]

Head Shot With My Horse


In my last blog, I wrote about how I felt that something wasn’t quite right with Tonka. He wasn’t lame. He was still letting me on (when he’s really hurting, he doesn’t), and he was game to do what was asked. But something was amiss. Was it how I was […]

Self-doubt Leads To…


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