relationship building


Today I shared an apple with Tonka.   After Tonka finished chewing and swallowing, he continued to lip smack and savor the moment.   Then Tonka licked my breeches. He wasn’t nudging me for more. He was being affectionate and thanking me.   Yes, I believe that sometimes animals are […]

Animals Say Thank You


I live on a hill overlooking a beaver marsh in southern Maine. This is the view from the front of the house. Two acres of field and blueberry barrens sloping down to wetlands. If I were a landscape painter I couldn’t have imagined a better composition. Those 4 large oaks […]

Observer or the Observed?


As I turn out of the barn’s driveway at 6 am, Tonka safely ensconced in the trailer that I’m pulling with my pickup truck, I glance at Steve and say, Why do I do this? It’s not a question and he’s heard it before. We know that on the road back […]

Are Horse Shows Fun?



I’m incredibly fortunate during this pandemic to be able to continue to ride and take lessons at my boarding barn. I’m even able to enter local schooling shows. I ride six days a week and because I’m competing I have a focus. There’s lots that both Tonka and I have […]

Tonka at Turtle Hill


Tonka is an amenable horse. To the casual observer it appears that Tonka doesn’t freak out at the sort of novel things that scare other horses. Partly this calm demeanor is his innate nature. However, it’s at least equally the training that I’ve done, and relationship that I have developed […]

Dragging Jugs


As part of Tonka’s search and rescue training (we’re members of this team), we have to get used to out of the ordinary situations. You can’t train for every scenario, but you can train for confidence around, over and through novel obstacles. Last week a few of us met to […]

Combining Curiosity and the Touch Cue



I’ve spent the last six years doing lower level dressage with Tonka. He moves off of, and bends around, my leg aids. I close my fingers on the reins and he takes a steady, soft and pliable contact. As horse people say, I’ve installed the “buttons.” I’ve recently started taking […]

Too Willing?


The girls at the barn have convinced me to “horse show” with them this summer. I have a lot of show experience but not in the hunter/jumper world. I’m used to dressage and ages ago I evented. The H/J shows have a different way of running things, from how classes […]

Training for Flower Box Jumps


We moved to Maine a year ago. Our house sits on a rise overlooking a beaver marsh. We named the property Turtle Hill because turtles lay their eggs here. Right now is prime nesting season. We are thrilled to see these ladies.   The view to the front of the […]

Tonka’s Thoughtful Place