Saying Yes to a Horse When You Mean No

Sometimes something someone says sticks with you because it’s brilliant. Sometimes it sticks because it’s plain wrong. I was working for a horse rescue a few years ago and a bodyworker came to visit the horses. The bodyworker did noticeably light and sensitive work on banged-up sway back elders and the herd melted in acknowledgment. … Read more

Calming Signals: How Do You Listen To a Horse?

What is your first memory of listening to a horse? Not standing next to a horse and being certain he loved you. Not daydreaming about galloping him on the beach or burying your tear-drenched face in his mane and hiding. None of these things are listening. They are moments we might feel a connection because … Read more

Horse Intelligence: What Are We Missing?

  I love reading about science like hungry people love over-cooked greenish-gray Brussel sprouts. And that’s the kind of sentence you never come upon while reading scientific research. I have better luck understanding these behavioral studies if I read them aloud. The words all seem to trip over each other’s feet; science jargon is a … Read more

Whoa. A Hands-Free Halt.

She’s an 18hh Thoroughbred-Shire cross. She’s 30 years old and her name is Thyme.  I’ll give you a minute to smile. Thyme lives in England but managed to get her rider to email me with a question. “Did you ever write a post on the halt?” he asks. “She will stop in the school, but … Read more

She Said Her Horse Was Pensive.

L. and her gelding, Andante, are boarders here. I always ask how the ride went as they return to the barn. One day L. tilted her head and said he’d complained about her hands. Horses are always right about hands. It’s frustrating when you listen to your horse and hear something you don’t like. Recently, … Read more

Spring Fever, Bad Behavior, or Flight Response?

It’s February on the high prairie at the fringe of the Rocky Mountains. The pond is still frozen so there is an unnatural quiet, no bird chatter, no wings in the sky. After months of feeling that light is somehow a product of ice lighting the ground, the sun feels just a bit warm again. … Read more

An Allergy, Spyglass Tunnel Vision, & a Valentine

    Most of us start with an allergy. Our noses get stuffy and our eyes are red and teary all the time. We’re allergic to not having a horse and it’s chronic. We start sniveling when we’re kids. We cry if we can’t have a pony, we cry when we get a pony, and … Read more

Can Horses Forgive Us?

The reader said that an essay I’d written “brought to mind how many times my involuntary predatory instincts have surfaced and expressed themselves over the years with my horses. It made me wonder about the horse’s capacity to forgive, and the time trajectory for establishing trust. …if a horse is capable of trusting humans in … Read more

A Short List of Things Horses Do Need Us to Teach Them.

For all our love for horses, humans are still predators. We don’t like to hear that. We’re defensive; we’ve seen abused horses. Our minds go to the most extreme images; bloody flanks and torturous bits and that isn’t who we are. Nope. Not what we do. At the same time, we struggle with what others … Read more

A Short List of Things Horses Don’t Need Us to Teach Them.

If Edgar Rice Burro were to title this Bev Doolittle-like photo, he might call it Beauty and the Beast. He lives with this mare, but she is always fussy about something. She’s a huge control enthusiast and it wears him down. The mare has no ears to speak of and an overly dramatic tail. She … Read more