44 Main Street, Skidby East Yorkshire, HU16 5TG
01482 875141 07720 758425

About Us

 Melanie Watson, the person!

I have a long and varied past and it’s all been about animals!

As a child I was born and brought up in East Africa, surrounded by a myriad of various animals. My mother was one for taking in the injured so I had a brilliant grounding in learning how to help and care for any animal in pain:- and there were some extraordinary ones!

Eventually, we repatriated to the UK and lived in various places finally taking root in East Yorkshire.

When I finished the obligatory A levels I left home and studied for my BHS Stages 1, 2 and 3 and my BHSAI at Snainton Riding Center, Scarborough under the guardianship of Mr Alec Lyall FBHS. 1979/1980.

After passing everything, I left the UK straight away to further my experience and found a job in a top Dressage yard just outside Vienna, Austria. It was a unique experience and I received a wonderful grounding in Classical Riding and principles being trained consistently by 2 Head Riders of the Spanish Riding School.

Back in the UK, I took a temporary job in Gloucestershire, which ended up 3 years. Ostensibly producing Yearlings for the Racing industry but the job included the husbandry of cows too. It turned out that I loved farm life. I rode Point to Pointers out for exercise just for  fun ……. Classical Dressage meets shorts stirrups, long gallops and huge hedges to jump!  I started a few young potential Racehorses which were sent into training very well balanced and level headed. I milked cows and cared for all the young stock both bovine and equine.

My interest in animal behaviour stemmed from this important time in my life. Everything was about pure herd behaviour. Understanding their needs, their innate behaviour’s and their herd interactions. This was the same with the cows as well as the broodmares, foals and yearlings. It was a turning point in my life and a direction/fascination I have followed since.

“Repatriating” back to East Yorkshire again I started my own Training and Livery Yard business in Skidby in 1985 and have been here ever since. I celebrated a remarkable 30 years in business birthday in 2015. In that time, I  bought and retrained several Ex-racehorses which I produced for National BE Eventing and Team chasing. I bred and produced horses for BSJA and BE Eventing…and many into British Dressage careers. The last of my competition horses was sold attaining the standard of Medium Level at Affiliated level but working Advanced Medium at home

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Melanie Watson, My personal development.

As a trainer, it is imperative that I am the best I can be for every horse and every owner whose lives I impact on. It is an absolute fact that you absolutely never stop learning……nor should you ever stop trying. Over 3 decades one gains a huge experience base on which to draw from on a daily, even moment to moment basis

I follow and apply the principles of Behavioural Science and spend much of my spare time reading books and articles from the world’s true animal training experts. I attend seminars and conferences in order to learn more and be better at what I do. I am, what is probably called, a crossover trainer. From my roots made in Classical riding and methods through to years of practising Natural Horsemanship as a training tool, I never felt comfortable with the amount of persuasion /coercion/ pressure and dominance which is endemic throughout the world of horses, horse ownership and horse training.

Dominance training simply does not work. It creates fear, rage, distrust and panic. All the associated behaviour’s which stem from these emotions simply work against you…inevitably leading you to be more dominant and apply more pressure. It is a fallacy to believe you have to master a horse. All a horse wants to feel is safe! To truly understand why a horse does what it does and feels the way it feels, is the doorway into being able to make huge changes to those emotions. As a result of which I train horses on an emotional level. I build trust and repair relationships and generally bring harmony and a greater understanding for every owner and every horse I work with.

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I have been on the Expert Panel for Behaviour for YOUR HORSE magazine for several years now where I answer reader’s questions and provide information for associated articles.

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I have worked as Expert Witness in several litigation cases defending buyers who have been miss sold horses and some of whom have suffered personal injury as a result. I have to supply accurate behavioural reports to the court and make solid conclusions as to the information given at the point of sale and the actuality of the animal in front of me.

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I was invited to and have both attended and presented to delegates at the 1st and 2nd International Animal Trainers Conferences, held at Twycross Zoo 2013 and 2014 respectively, sat back and simply learned more from the 3rd (2016) and am really looking forward to attending, and perhaps presenting to, the 4th Conference later on this year (2017).

This conference brings together experts in all fields of animal training across the world to the UK where I have been fortunate to make some good friends and made many wonderful and inspiring contacts. I have had the opportunity to visit behind the scenes at London Zoo to watch Tapir Training and participated in training Kangaroos for a planned public “Meet and Greet”.

I have had a Sea lion trainer and a giraffe trainer come to me in Skidby to share knowledge, learn from each other and gave them an opportunity to play with my horses! Just for fun!

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I have attended Dr Susan Friedman’s 2-day Seminar “Living and Learning with Animals”. Dr Friedman PhD from Utah University Psychology Department is a world expert in animal behaviour. She specialises in solving problem behaviours across the whole spectrum of animal keeping, not just Zoos.  She trains behavioural analyses and tutors trainers Internationally in understanding behaviour and behaviour modification…..with a view to how the environment affects/triggers both behaviour per say but also using environmental preparation to train for success. She is a stickler for highlighting people to not label behaviours away from what is actually happening. “Lazy, awkward, fizzy, stressy, etc are all labels and not actual behaviours. She is an amazing teacher and behaviour scientist. I followed up my training with her by attending the advanced training in Functional Analyses seminar in February 2016. www.behaviorworks.org

Feb23-26: LLA and Functional Analysis Seminars, Positive Animal Solutions, Leeds and Yorkshire, UK
http://www.positiveanimalsolutions.com/Susan_Friedman_2016_UK_Seminars_s/2806.htm

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I have attended 2 -day seminar with world-renowned Ken Ramirez (Training from Core to Complex: The Many Faces of the Modern Trainer) at The Yorkshire Wildlife Park in 2015. This seminar was all about advanced training techniques and perceptions and how to apply this knowledge in the field. A fascinating man to listen to and learn from. His experience in Animal training is second to none.

kenramireztraining.com

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I completed the Edinburgh University Coursera on Animal Welfare and Behaviour. https://www.coursera.org/learn/animal-welfare

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I am a member of ABMA (Animal Behaviour Management Alliance)

https://theabma.org

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My quest for betterment through knowledge will never end. Science moves on and we should follow that progression and progress ourselves. You cannot argue with proven science.