As I entered the office of a friend the other day, I interrupted him as he was dictating into his computer. We’d chit chatted and swapping a few stories, before he realized he’d forgotten to turn off the dictation feature. It was awkwardly funny to hear him read back our conversation from his screen, word … Read more Did I say that? Communicating intentionally to horses.
I’m asked this regularly. I may dig a little deeper, “Tell me what you mean by bonding.” If bonding means to you: my horse feels safe and relaxed in my presence my horse understands me – my movements and cues are predictable I’d say that’s very important! However, if you’re hoping for your horse to … Read more “How important is it to bond with my horse?”
When I assume my horse “should know better” the truth is at that moment, I’ve really just run out of creativity, patience and my knowledge of equitation science. Training horses is not so much horse sense as horse science. It’s not whispering. It’s not mystical. By understanding how horses learn and see the world we … Read more Blaming my horse.
What’s the best choice to control risk in working with horses? Researchers surveyed 1,700 horse people (owners, riders, and enthusiasts). The #1 choice? Helmets. Training was low on the list. “People working with horses seem to simply accept the tradition that equestrianism is high-risk”, said a speaker at August’s U of Guelph Equitation Science conference—a … Read more Hazards, horses and helmets
Standard equipment in English disciplines. Training equipment in western. While nosebands are designed to prevent bit evasion, in the horse business, we’re inclined to think “If a little is good, more is better! Are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting? Who knows where the “two-finger rule” for fitting bridle … Read more Nosebands – how tight is too tight?
That bareback beach riding bucket list experience – a tender moment for the rider, yet perhaps differently “tender” for the horse… In several recent studies researchers have confirmed the benefits of pressure distribution thanks to saddle trees, making them a better option than the localized pressure from some treeless saddles or riding bareback. With the … Read more Riding bareback: when natural is not necessarily better.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” quote from To Kill A Mockingbird. How do we know what we know about horses? Working with the staff and volunteers (good sports!) of the Windreach therapeutic riding program, participants gained insights from equitation science and from between the reins … Read more Understanding horses
Researchers observed equine body language and facial expressions in a grooming study, comparing these visible responses to what’s under the surface – blood cortisol, oxytocin levels and heart rate. As a coach, I encourage riders to read their horses –to check in every couple of seconds with how their signals are reflected in their horse’s … Read more Reading horses (and people).
Glitches in the training ring or show ring can usually be sourced to communication issues: mixed messages or muffled cues. When I started to study the science about horse behaviour and learning, it confirmed many things I’d discovered by trial and error as a coach and trainer. Learning WHY gave substance to the HOW. And … Read more 5 top reasons for horse and rider communication gaps.
A subtle jerk and spur. An aggressive back-up. Barking out “WHOA!” with a scowl. As a judge I see them (and sometimes DQ them). As a coach I talk riders logically through them. And I sadly recall a few of my own! In the fishbowl of the horse show, it’s natural to lose it when … Read more Temper tantrums