relationship building


My work with clients and their horses is ostensibly about teaching the humans how to ride, or the equines new behaviors. But underneath that, before that training can start, I need both horse and rider to be in a calm and confident place. Whether it’s the off-track thoroughbred learning how […]

Build on Small Moments of Calm


The sport that I choose to compete in is not something that Tonka would have thought up on his own. Exerting oneself while doing precise patterns in a ring while the sun beats down on you, is not an activity that a horse would innately see as a sensible thing […]

Horse Show Happy


Tonka grew up on a ranch in Texas, where he learned to navigate open spaces, trust his companions, be alert for danger, and learn from his experiences. This upbringing is one reason why he has such an intelligent eye. I continue to encourage him to be thoughtful. When he is […]

Peep, Peep, Plop, Plop



Tonka’s barn has a wash stall. Not only is it large, airy, and filled with sunlight, but it also has hot and cold running water. This is a luxury, although Tonka says that it is essential. There are few things that Tonka finds more discomforting than a cold water wash. […]

Communication In The Wash Stall


When the Rio Olympics happened back in August of 2016, I read accounts about how much the Olympic horses loved bananas. I brought a banana to the barn. Offered a piece to Tonka. He said an emphatic NO. Actually he gave me an incredulous look. How could I put that […]

Bananas for Horses


I’ve always have a feeling of guilt when I load Tonka into the trailer. After all, it must be uncomfortable to stand in a moving box, balancing over bumps, hills and curves, with the jarring noises and smells of the highway to contend with. I’ve felt guilty even though Tonka […]

Tonka Sightsees



Yesterday, Tonka and I competed at another USDF dressage show. My ride time was 8:07 a.m., which meant that I had to be at the barn by 5:30 a.m. to feed Tonka. Once we’re hauling down the highway, he doesn’t eat. Some horses do, his friend Maggie will eat as […]

Why Show?


As a writer, I’m very aware of how the words that we use not only describe our world, but also shape how we think about it. When writing about my hens, I could characterize their clucking as chattering or squabbling. One word makes them appear charming, the other, quarrelsome. We […]

Flight Animal Stereotype


It’s important for horses to stretch. Many equestrians have a routine of exercises for this purpose. Using carrots as lures, they get their horses to reach around with their necks to their sides, lift their backs (known as crunches) and bend down to put their noses between their legs. Tonka […]

Tonka’s Stretching Advice