March 13, 2017
THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE, the new book by Thom Friedman, has me thinking about the pace of change in modern life. Shocking to think that the i-phone came out in 2007! Facebook, Twitter, just getting off the ground. They feel like they've been around forever--but forever is briefer these days, apparently.
One seismic changein the horse world since 2000, when The Horse-Lover's Encyclopedia edition 1 came out is the rise of Natural Horsemanship (NH). Back then it wasn't even an entry, and 'round pen' wasn't a verb. Today NH is huge, with popular clinicians like Pat Parelli having enormous followings, and almost everybody has some idea of how to do 'round penning.'
NH has its critics, too, many of them among what may be the next tidal wave poised to sweep the horse community. It's difficult to put a name to this group. In fact, many of those I conceptually place in a single bucket would resist being included with some of the others, possibly with good reason. I'm open to hearing arguments about that, but here's how I see it at the moment.
There's a movement toward softer forms of training, and in some cases, keeping riding completely voluntary on the horse's part. Clicker training; groups like Empowered Equestrians, who use and understand terms like +R, and aspire to train horses using only +R methods. People who will not ride a horse unless he clearly signals his desire to be ridden.
There are research groups like ISES (International Society for Equitation Science) and universities studying equine cognition and behavior, and who have brought us fascinating new info like the blanket study, and new insight into how horses see us. (Hint: wipe that frown off your face before you walk into the barn!).
There are people who love horses, but have no interest in riding, who are coming out of the shadows and claiming their right to be horse-owners on their own terms. Some of them 'just' feed and love on their horses. Others play with them (careful!) and some take part in sports like Equine Agility. This dovetails with another group who would like to compete in a mild sort of way, but don't want to truck horses anywhere. Some of them participate in contests where you set up and video, or score, a test, then email it in. (Agility, Mounted Archery.)
Then there are the myriad of sports that expand our idea of what a good horse can do. Far beyond the categories of my youth--English, Western, trail, racing--these extend into Iberian riding traditions with doma vaquera and Working Equitation, expand ranch horse concepts with Extreme Cowboy competitions, and move way past the old trail classes.
It all feels like its moving a lot faster than it used to. It's much easier to start a new sport, spread the word about it, get in touch with like minded folks, and even compete remotely. Our idea of horsemanship is getting gentler, more nuanced, more scientifically informed, and more multi-cultural.
I tried to touch on as many elements of this as I could in the new HORSE-LOVER'S ENCYCLOPEDIA. But we had to be brief, for reasons of space, and we still ended up with a three-pound book! Still, it makes a good jumping-off point. Mounted archery? Who even knew that was a thing? Except the Mongols, the Scythians, and our remote Indo-European-speaking horse-riding ancestors--and now, the practitioners of this multi-cultural new sport. Korean, Hungarian, and other forms exist, there's a serious degree of costume involved, and the process of teaching horses to tolerate having arrows fired from their backs leads to calm and a high degree of control. It's all really exciting. Can't wait to see where horsemanship goes in the next fifteen years.
January 13, 2013
American Girl really gets creativity.
Now that I can talk about Saige and her new books, what I most want to say is how much fun it's been. I loved the process from my first phone conversation with Erin Falligant. The creative team at American Girl is such a great bunch of smart, artistic (more…)
July 24, 2012
Trying to teach Robin to leg yield. To the right, no problem. To the left, not possible. I read my books (Mary Wanless, Sally Swift, everyone!), worked on my position, agonized. I also, in the barn, asked her to sidestep away from my hand on both sides. Click, treat, nicker. She was definitely less (more…)
June 21, 2012
Round penning. I'll admit that I've never done it, and don't get it, and am not attracted. Obviously lots of people use it and have success. And I've seen Robin do it to Zeke, working him back and forth along the fence-line like an enormous calf until (her version) she chases him up the lane.
But I don't want to be another horse to my horse, and I don't want to be in a predator-prey relationship. I want to reach her mind, more the way I would with another human. I want to elevate the discussion. Clicker training, and clicker thinking, allows me to do this when I do it well, and I like having a horse who chuckles occasionally when she gets her cue. If I were better, sharper, more consistent, she'd be a better-behaved horse, but I'm refining my skills, and the conversation keeps getting more interesting.
June 19, 2012
I'm back in two weeks, not two years. I actually noticed that I never actually posted my last blog entry. I corrected the error. I'm improving. I deserve chocolate.
November 6, 2010
Wow! It's November already. I've checked off a book about a Quarter Horse--CHICO'S CHALLENGE will come out with Feiwel and Friends in early 2012, I think--a new Bramble and Maggie book for Candlewick, and I've substantially finished a book about the Westminster Massacre that will come out with History Press next year.
And Robin? The (more…)
July 25, 2010
This blog is a true picture of my life right now--I don't have time to write a blog! Why not? Well, I'm training Robin, a 4-year-old Morgan--and since I haven't ridden in over 2 years, the first rides took courage and creativity. I'm finishing the history of my town, an enormous project; finishing CHICO'S CHALLENGE, (more…)
June 2, 2010
If you responded to Win A Prize (and I Know Molly did!), please send me your mailing address so I can send you your pin. The glitch here is that this blog--set up by the Authors Guild--doesn't show me your email address, so I can't respond to you directly. I'm not Ms. Technology, so (more…)
May 30, 2010
Robin and I still have our persistent problem of her biting me, or threatening to. I can't decide if it's compulsive--oral Morgan who must be always doing something with her mouth--or if it's something I'm actually training her to do due to my response (but I feel like I have to respond to protect (more…)
March 31, 2010
Just back from Clicker Expo in Lexington, KY--a wonderful experience. Imagine being in a resort hotel with 400 animal-lovers and 130 well-behaved dogs of all breeds. Imagine classes all day on the latest scientific breakthroughs and refinements in modern animal training. I learned a lot about keeping cues and training loops clean--which coincidentally is what I (more…)
January 26, 2010
Okay, here's a challenge for clicker trainers. I've been a bad blogger--look how long it's been. Do I call myself a bad blogger, or do I give myself a tiny treat for getting back into the saddle?
A few excuses; extensive barn renovations, followed by winter, Christmas, more winter...naah, no excuses. Robin is (more…)
October 21, 2009
Thanks so much for posting a comment, Jane. Fortunately there are a lot of good horse books for your daughter to read, and my pony books have many times been a reluctant reader's gateway into reading.
Send me an email with your address, and I'll send your daughter a homemade Horse Crazy! pin just (more…)
October 18, 2009
The first three people to post comments on this blog will receive hand-made and autographed Horse Crazy! pins. Why? It's a training exercise. I'm trying to train myself to blog more frequently, plus I want a good reason to play with glue and scissors. I need feedback and reinforcement, and I want to hear (more…)
September 17, 2009
The first signing for Horse Crazy! was at the Book Cellar in Brattleboro, Vt, and it was very successful, thanks to the efforts of Kati Knapp at the store, and to my beloved eighth grade teacher, Winnie Vogt, who sent a couple of nice people my way. Everyone went home with their own personal (more…)
September 2, 2009
I sat on Robin! Three or four times now, for between one and three seconds. It's a big thrill for me. I've had her for a little over a year, and have not been on a horse in about two years. So far so good. I have not asked Robin to take a single (more…)
August 24, 2009
I recently read the new book by Karen Pryor, the queen of clicker training. It's called Reaching the Animal Mind, and it gives an overview of clicker training, with the clearest writing on teaching a cue that I've ever seen. It also includes great training stories, and a look at Karen's fascinating and unorthodox (more…)
August 6, 2009
I bought Robin a bag of peppermint candies yesterday, and already it's changed our lives.
She adores them! We are working on bridling, which up to now involved her weaving her head around and nipping. Today she knew peppermints were a possibility. After some typical behavior, suddenly she started shoving her nose into the (more…)
July 16, 2009
I'm horse crazy! I admit it! Oh, the relief of having it out in the open!
To the 92 of you who looked at my previous blog--both entries!--it's gone. I'm too busy to train Robin and write a book about her and blog about her too.
Instead I want to just talk about horses. (more…)
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Hoofprints; Horse Poems; the jacket art is by Alison D. Rieder.
Keeping Barney, my first novel
Woodgate Martha V.
At the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque
Saige and I presenting at the Mater Christi School
Saige and Picasso, the Spanish Barb horse, beautifully created by Sarah Davis.
Atherton and Zeke