relationship building


All of the horses were in their stalls, eating their late afternoon hay. All but Tonka.   He was looking out. With his panoramic vision, Tonka could see the whole sweep of the property, all the way from the barn on one side to the field on the other. His […]

What’s There, Tonka?


When Tonka shakes his head, something is going on with him, and I’d better listen. I first noticed this early on, when on a trail ride a friend who was up ahead put too much distance between us. Tonka wanted to trot to catch up. I wanted him to walk […]

What’s Bothering You, Tonka?


There are many reasons to train animals. It allows pet owners to get along with their furry friends by teaching them basic manners and how to get along nicely with others. Training can also be done for cooperative care, so that you can do husbandry and medical procedures without causing […]

Karen Pryor and Creative Animals



This is Tonka’s happy face when he heads to a jump. Up until now, Tonka and I have done dressage and trails. We’ve tried to keep all four hooves safely on the ground. That said, we’ve been doing ground pole exercises to strengthen his stifles, and he was so cheerful […]

How High, Tonka?


When Steve and I met, I was leasing a horse, so he knew that horses were part of the story of who I am. Your significant other might get that you’re “into horses” but at the beginning they never really know how that affects the relationship. In our case, it […]

Horse Husband Training


Yesterday Tonka and I had our fifth jumping lesson. Outside it was miserable. Sleet was pelting down. He’d been standing in his stall all morning. So we did a warmup walk for fifteen minutes, followed by a good trot, and then we trotted and cantered over a few ground rails. […]

Tonka Wants To Fly



One of the things that has held Tonka and I back from going up the levels in dressage has been the recurrent comment from the judges on our tests: needs more energy. He does the patterns correctly, precisely and with a willing fluidity. But my horse just hasn’t had that […]

Full of (Jumping) Beans


I have a banana.    Yes, I’ll share it with you, Tonka.   All gone. No, you don’t like banana peels.   Ewww. Banana snort snot.   No, that wasn’t funny.   Yes, we’re still friends. No, there are no more bananas.    

Banana Story


It’s been grey, cold and dank. January weather.   Then it poured rain and sleeted, which saturated the snow and turned everything into slush and then crust. The last few days, though, we’ve had a respite. Above freezing temps for at least part of the day. The paddocks went from […]

January Thaw