horse training


Which do you think is scarier to my horse? This:   or this? The answer is the branch! Although Tonka has settled calmly into his new home, and has seen that downed pine bough every day since he’s arrived, when I tried to ride past it, Tonka deemed it something […]

What’s Scary?


In January I bought a new (used) saddle. It fit great and Tonka let me know he liked it by going happily forward when ridden. But, neither saddles nor horses stay static. The saddle is filled (the horsey term is flocked) with wool. The stuffing compacts and shifts. I try […]

Tonka’s Saddle Fitting


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



There’s been a lot of press lately about raising resilient children. Educators and parents are noticing that kids aren’t able to recover from disappointment, or problem-solve solutions to obstacles. A culprit is the trend of adults to jump in and assist during even the smallest of challenges. To instill resiliency, […]

The Resilient Horse


One day last week I was feeling tired and stressed. If the weather had been good, I would have taken Tonka out on a trail. But the weather was not. I could have ridden in the arena. Being in the saddle would have distracted me and the exercise would have […]

Let Your Horse Sniff


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



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


I am writing this while looking out at the Atlantic Ocean from my room at the Yankee Clipper Inn. I am here for two days with my good friend, Karen Pryor. A couple of times a year we go on these writing retreats. We hole up in our separate rooms […]

Don’t Clicker Train Your Horse. Yet.


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