training with food


Sunflower and Nymph are two little burros. Sunflower is the mama, Nymph the baby. A few years ago, when Nymph was still nursing, they were in a horrific hoarding situation, but were saved by kind people, and made their way to a forever home at a rescue. They’ve had loving […]

Donkey Leg Handling


When I train a horse to do a behavior, I care about more than whether they accomplish the task itself. I want them willing, relaxed and focused. If the mental attitude isn’t calm yet eager, then I stop and evaluate what’s going on. But that assessment isn’t easy and I’m […]

The Horse’s Bigger Picture


When it comes to taking medication, Tonka is cooperative. It’s no problem giving him injections, or squirting paste wormer into his mouth. But, these are behaviors that have to be maintained. A couple of months ago, for the move to a new barn, Tonka was on a one-week course of […]

Training For Oral Med Dosing



I’m at an art festival with my husband. We’re holding hands. I see something that I want to look at. I walk towards it, he feels where I’m going through our hands. He follows. He gets distracted by something and he stops, he pulls lightly on my hand so I […]

The Halter As Welcome Information


Susannah called me in because she wanted to be able to tack up her mare, Fawn, without her horse showing signs of worry. The first thing that I do is watch the baseline behavior, and then tease apart the components. Here is how Fawn reacted when Susannah stepped towards her […]

Standing Still For Saddling


Effective trainers know that when a desired behavior is rewarded, it’s likely to happen again. For that reason, we’re thoughtful about paying attention to what the animal wants and timing the reward so that they make the connection between what they’ve done and the consequence. But behavior isn’t only learned […]

When Feeding Treats Goes Wrong



It’s drilled into us dressage riders to go forward. Sometimes, though, in order to get those big strides, we have to slow our horses down first because impulsion can’t come without balance. Tonka is a case in point. His front end and his hind end go at different speeds. Tonka […]

Slowing Down To Go Forward


Tonka has never had big issues with trailering, but I don’t take it for granted! When I purchased him, he loaded fine, but scrambled too fast backwards when stepping out, so I trained him to wait patiently in the trailer and back slowly when asked.  Over the years, there have […]

Optimistic Trailering


Yesterday, the Goat Boys traveled to their new home in Maine. I transported them in my horse trailer. My goats are skittish about new things and don’t like to be out-of-sight of their barn. They’ve lived in the backyard, without venturing beyond the fence, for many years. How do you […]

Loading Goats Onto A Trailer