"Thinking of your horse as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of your horse as struggling to handle something difficult encourages you to help him through his distress."- The Concordia Connection

April 24, 2017

There is a Beatles song that keeps running through my head: “Eight Days A Week”…and even though I spent eight days away from home, it wasn’t enough time to spend with all the amazing people and horses (and ponies) I had the pleasure of introducing to EquispeakTM and the clicker training.

The weather certainly didn’t cooperate, but the humans and the animals most certainly did. Everyone embraced the work and stood by me in times of technical computer issues (many thanks for that and yes a new computer is on its way!)

I gave three clinics during the six days and a couple private lessons as well, so no wonder I was a bit tired when I arrived back home, but we were on “horse time” so the days just flew by.

In the new format for the clinics, I give the participants a set of behaviours that they can take away and use...

February 28, 2017

I will admit, thanks to a friend, that I almost (ALMOST but not really) wish that snow and winter would stay a bit longer. Why on earth would I want that? Well I’ve discovered kick sleds.Now don’t get too excited about me actually doing exercise in the snow and cold. My kick sled is not human powered!

My, now coming four-year-old mini, Eggo was finally ready to really hook to something and start really driving.


I’d put in lots of preparation. I’ve also trained him differently than my other driving ponies. I’ve tried to use positive reinforcement and cue transfers to shape his learning without any negative reinforcement. I must say I’m quite pleased with the results and I think Eggo is too!

This first video shows some of the behaviours I teach all my guys. They come in handy for teaching many other behaviours th...

November 18, 2016

This year I was fortunate enough to be invited to teach at Heroncrest Stables, near Ottawa Ontario. I was there in the spring and had a great group turn out for it. I got to go back in October and thought I’d share some of the pictures and stories with you now.

In the first clinic I introduced the foundation lessons and we did a lot of human with human learning. I always start this way and often revisit it. By taking the real horse out of the training/learning process and using a ‘human’ horse it allows for the learner (trainer) to have much less to worry about while learning the mechanical skills needed.

I have covered all the foundation lessons in my early blogs here so please head on back into the history and check them out.  Many have demo videos to help you learn.

The second clinic this October followed a s...

May 6, 2016

I had the pleasure of teaching in Ottawa this past weekend. There were a great group of ladies with many, many years of combined horse experiences, but only a few who had been exposed to clicker training, and most of those through the dog world, so it was very exciting to see all of them get excited about the possibilities with the horses.

As the weekend unfolded and they could see just how fast the learning occurred they got very excited about all the possibilities for their horses.

The horses we used in the demos were a good cross section with regards to exposure to the clicker work.

It went all the way from Carter who was a rescue and Anne his owner did a lovely demo for us all of all the work she had done using the clicker to get him from a horse referred to as dangerous into a lovely confident fellow who lo...

January 7, 2016

Well, 2015 certainly zipped by. I have now had ‘U’ for a bit over a year. Many people would not have been happy taking this amount of time to get to where we are in our relationship, but I have both the luxury, and experience to be able to do feel confident in this decision. And ‘U’ has certainly proved it to be the correct decision.

‘U’, when he first arrived, did not want anything to do with humans. He would stand with his head in the far corner of his stall, not wanting any interaction at all. He was an angry and depressed fellow. Never was he mean or nasty but definitely not a fan of interacting.

I introduced him to novel behaviour that would have no negative associations with them and made sure is was told he was right and wonderful for doing these simple behaviours like targeting and standing on a mat. Tr...

October 7, 2015

It is hard to believe it has been almost a year since ‘U’ came to live with me. It has been so wonderful to watch him change from a sullen, depressed horse that would stand in the back corner of his stall with a grumpy face and go away air about him into a bright eyed, nicker when he sees anyone and trots over to get a scratch kind of guy.

I know there are those of you thinking that that must have taken a lot of time and effort. Well it didn’t. That is one of the great things about positive reinforcement training. This spring and summer were very busy so everyone got a bit neglected in their opinion (they all love to play); perhaps only getting to play once a week.

During haying, or if I was away teaching, it was even less and yet everyone still made huge leaps forward in their abilities.


Here is the video of ‘...

April 2, 2015

Usually this blog is about ‘U’ but this week we are going to talk about ‘V’ or Valor. I wanted to talk a bit about him this week as a comparison to ‘U’.

Valor is my not yet two, two-year-old Azteca gelding. I have had Valor since he was about four months old. His weaning and transport would not be what I would call ideal, but he seems to have suffered no permanent emotional damage from it. I’ll just leave it at that. He had to have his feet done when we got him and as soon as possible as his legs were not growing correctly because of them. He was a star for that less than totally positive experience. I made it as positive as possible, having a great farrier who took it slowly and calmly, with lots of breaks and over a couple sessions, with lots of scratches, that valor seemed to enjoy while the whole thing was...

March 3, 2015

So, I hope all of you had a look at the video clip from the last blog. I’m pretty sure a lot of you out there may have looked at the video and thought ‘I don’t see any issue here,’ and I know that many people would be happy if their horse looked and acted like this, but I’m looking for more. I want that dance partner that flows with me and matches my energy, my movements around the ‘dance floor’ whether I’m on the ground or on his back. I don’t want my partner to act like a ‘husband going shopping.’

So, how can I get this communication started? I almost always start by teaching a novel behaviour. A novel behaviour is something the animal has not been asked to do before so there is no history around it, or negative emotions or corrections.

I almost always start with an exercise we call targeting. For a complete...

December 2, 2014

The second key revolves around Ken Ramirez’s definition of an advanced training technique. An advanced training technique is anything that requires experience to use well and which two or more trainers cannot agree on. I have always loved that definition. In the horse world we really need to pay attention to what Ken is saying. When someone is greener than green, what are they told? They need to get tougher with their horse. In other words, they need to get better at using punishers and space enforcers. But those are the tools that require the most skill and the most understanding to use well.

At the Shedd Aquarium, novice trainers are not paired up with animals that require advanced training skills. When Ken gets to this point in his presentation, someone always raises their hand and asks: “But Ken, what if y...