I’m so bad at helping people with non-horsey problems

me: what’s wrong?

them: *crying* my boyfriend dumped me and omg I looooved him so much

me: oh haha um idk maybe more inside leg and outside rein???? smack him if he acts up??? try spurs????? lunge him???? stronger bit???

holy shit your horse advice is awful

"hit animals! jab them with pointy bits!"


I definitely don’t advocate the use of spurs and stronger bits to sort out problems with your horses.

Boyfriends, on the other hand…

I need my followers to help out.


This is for a young girl who lost her horse, and i would like to signal boost and help her find another horse. Donate if you can, if you can’t just reblog and get it some more attention. 

"Tragically on the evening of Oct. 14 2014, after a fun evening of practicing with her friends and their horses, Tracie spooked while being loaded and got loose. She ran down the driveway and out on to a busy road. She was stuck and killed.  It was a horiffic accident, hard for an adult to watch and hear happen let alone an 11 yr old  and all her freinds.   Luckily the driver only substained minor injuries which we are all grateful for. 

   We are seeking funds to help get Raimey another horse.  We know  having another horse will not replace Tracie but it will go a long way to mend a broken heart.”

Go here to donate. 

  • Professional rider: *shoots horse in the face*
  • Equestrian A: Oh thats kind of shitty
  • Equestrian B: Oh just shut up you haven't been around horses of this caliber before and some need different training. Personally I think shooting a horse in the face can be a good training tool if used correctly. Dont judge until you've been in their shoes. I've actually been asking my trainer to shoot my horse in the face because it's obviously a good way to train. If it wasnt, the pros wouldnt be doing it.

Anonymous said: I've been riding the same horse on and off for a few years now and it finally went up for sale after almost a year of not getting to ride this horse. I rode it again with the full intention of buying, but this time when I rode, the horse was reactive, dangerous,and i dont know why. It had never behaved like this for me before and I don't know what changed with it, but I'm heartbroken. I loved this horse before, but now it's very scary, and I'm terrified of it going to a bad home. What do I do :/

There’s no way for me to diagnose the problem over the net, and there probably isn’t any way for you to know exactly what caused the problem. You can examine the factors (Did it seem to be a tack related problem? Some learned behavior due to bad riding?), talk to the people involved in working with the horse, and try to figure it out, but ultimately you don’t want to buy a horse that scares you. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Is the horse safe on the ground, or wholly uncontrollable? I think it’s important to note that no horse is generally reactive and dangerous - they react dangerously to specific things. A horse can be great under saddle and lose their shit bareback, or vice versa, while another horse will bite when the girth is being tightened but tolerate injections without a blink. You need to figure out the specifics. If this horse is still quiet on the ground, and just has a bad reaction under saddle, it may just be that they need a slow reintroduction to under saddle work because of some traumatic event. In that case, if you feel safe with them on the ground, and don’t mind going about riding very gradually, you might still consider buying.

If I were you, I’d take another long look at the horse. Work them on the ground, on the longe, watch someone else ride them, ride them at just a walk, try them with different tack, and see if they act differently in different areas. Also, vet check. It’s possible the horse has a problem with their teeth or some kind of soreness that makes riding painful.

After you take that longer look, reassess, and be honest with yourself. Where are the horse’s problems? Do you feel capable of addressing those problems? Are you willing to take the time and put in the effort to address those problems? Do you have people to support you, that you can ask for help? Do you absolutely need a reliable horse, right now, or are you okay with a bit of a project?

Seriously, be honest with yourself. Don’t take on a horse just because you feel bad for them. You’ll feel even worse when something goes wrong after you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

Hope some of that helps. Good luck!


Anonymous said: What does it mean when a horse is licking and chewing? A lot of people say the horse does it because it "understands and is learning" but I'm not sure I'm convinced..

Some useful links:

The gist of appeasement gestures, or calming signals, is that they’re used to prevent conflict. A dog shows its discomfort by yawning, looking away, licking its lips, and so on. It’s a stepping stone to extreme displays of stress, like biting. Properly socialized dogs will give and recognize these signals, and respect them. It’s just language.

I haven’t found any other useful articles on appeasement related body language in horses, but it’s easily to generalize between horses and dogs. Both live in groups and compete for resources. Therefore, it’s vital for them to have complex body language, and a complex system of both intimidation and appeasement. This is what allows them to ‘debate’ over personal space and resources without having to escalate to a physical conflict.

I haven’t seen much research saying conclusively that yes, licking and chewing in horses are appeasement signals, or signs of stress, but I think it’s a fair assumption to make. It makes sense that a lot of trainers promote licking and chewing as a sign of learning and progress, because they induce so much stress in the horses in their training.

I wouldn’t call it a sign of learning. I would call an animal performing a desired behavior a sign of learning.


bearhugsbeerhugs said: since tumblr is obnoxious, do have an email i could send you a photo? I want it shared but I don't want it associated with me because it's of my former boss and horses I know personally.

I don’t have an email set up or the blog. Your best bet is probably to create another tumblr, without your personal information, and submit it from there, or just create a side email and make up a name. I’d allow anonymous submissions but I don’t think it’s an option.


r+/clicker trainer pointing out the excessive use of aversive tools and methods in horse training, the endless justification of using pain and fear to control horses, and the disturbing trend of people laughing off or admiring imagery that involves severely unhappy horses.

I provide resources on how to use clicker training with your horse, and how to understand training on a scientific level.

(Note: I do not run the unhappyhorses instagram and have no connection to the person who does.)

I am not
-anti tack
-anti riding
-anti sport
-anti pressure
but I believe that tack should be gentle, responses to riding cues should be taught using positive reinforcement, horse sports should involve minimal tack (and avoid aversive aids; whips, spurs, etc) and put horse welfare before winning, and that horses should be taught to respond to pressure as a cue instead of avoiding pressure because it is aversive.

my tags
-tagged/video = videos, often with commentary
-tagged/i+like+this = some kind of training or riding that I approve of
-tagged/ask - for previously answered questions
-tagged/gadgets - for tack which is excessive or inhumane or both
-tagged/unhappy+horse - pictures or videos of horses showing signs of stress and/or physical pain

my posts
-On the four quadrants
-On bits
-On finding a good riding instructor
-On luring, capturing, and shaping with the clicker
-Shaping masterpost
-Luring/Targeting masterpost
-Types of training in the horse world
-What to do instead of hitting your horse
-On disrespect
-On how to ride without using aversive stimuli, and why leg and rein pressure don't have to be aversive
-On join up
-On ethical tack
-Explaining reinforcement and punishment in a training context
-On 'freedom' as anthropomorphism and unhelpful to animal welfare
-8 ways to change behavior
-My suggestions for starting out with clicker training
-Halter training with the clicker

external links
-Shawna Karrasch - Sea World trainer bringing +r based techniques to the horse world - official website, contains active blog.
-Shawna Karrasch - official youtube channel.
-Georgia Bruce - Australian equine clicker trainer and bronze medalist paralympic equestrian - official website.
-Georgia Bruce - official youtube channel.
-Mary Hunter - Texas-based positive reinforcement based trainer who works with horses - youtube channel.
-Mary Hunter - blog (updates regularly).
-Painting Horse - inactive equine clicker training blog with plenty of valuable older posts.
-Alexandra Kurland - New York-based equine clicker trainer - official website.
-SimplyPsychology - a basic explanation of operant conditioning.
-Mustang poker (fun link).
-Karen Pryor clicker training - equine clicker training articles.
-Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog, free to read online in its entirety.
-Katie Bartlett - Pennsylvania-based equine clicker trainer - information and how-to articles.
-Kikopup - Emily Larlham - California-based clicker trainer whose videos are fantastic resources - youtube channel.
-Peggy Hogan - California-based equine clicker trainer - youtube channel.

rescue organizations - donate to these guys
-Prince Fluffy Kareem

view archive

Ask me anything