training theory


I use food rewards when training, but not in all scenarios. Here’s why. I train by identifying the behavior that I want, setting up scenarios that make it doable, and then rewarding the animal when it happens. I want to be able to get that behavior numerous times, the more […]

Training With Food – Sometimes


When Tonka and I are in sync, he’s flowing with energy and cadence, and I can talk to him with a the most subtle of body language, like by relaxing a ring finger, or by changing where I look.   But it’s not always pretty. What matters is what you do […]

It’s Not Him, It’s Me


Three years ago, when I purchased Tonka, I did so thinking that he and I would be trail partners, and for the first year, walking through the woods was what we did. His previous owner told me that Tonka was good alone or with company and that proved true. The trails […]

The Inadvertent GO!



It’s always good to get out of one’s comfort zone to further one’s education, and so when I heard about a camelid training course, I signed up. Last week I spent three days in Florida learning about these animals. Before I went, I knew little about alpacas and llamas. Once in their […]

Alpaca and Llama Training


A round pen is an enclosure for horses that can be quite useful. It’s usually about 50 feet in diameter, big enough that the horse can move, but small enough that they can’t get too far away from you. It’s a safe place to start a youngster or do trick training. I […]

Joining-up or Giving Up?


Tonka was sold to me as a horse that was safe out on the trails alone and that’s been mostly true. Of course, no horse is spook-proof 100% of the time. It turns out that although Tonka doesn’t bolt at the sight of deer, he is afraid of hopping frogs!   I’ve […]

Tonka Frets and What To Do About It



I grew up with cats but the first year that I went away to college I developed an inexplicable and permanent allergy to them, which is why my children have had many animals in their lives, but never felines. My son, Daniel, always said that as soon as he could, he’d […]

Training Cats and the Incompatible Behavior


We’ve all had them – the riding instructors that yell, harangue and nag. In 1975 I went to riding school in England. Gerry was one of my instructors. He was tough and wiry and had legs like nutcrackers. He could sit on anything. He pushed me hard to improve. Modern day […]

Teaching Riding Without Yelling


The work that I do with animals uses, what I call, the clicker perspective. It’s not, however, always clicker training per se. Much of the time I don’t use the clicker – a sharp sound that marks the moment the animal has done the right thing, which is then followed by a […]

Starting From a Safe Place