MELANIE THE PERSON
I have a long and varied past and it’s all been about animals!
I am a member of:
"My quest for betterment through knowledge will never end. Science moves on all the time and we should follow that progression and progress ourselves. You cannot argue with proven science after all!"
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! It is where my need to nurture stems from.
Eventually we repatriated to the UK and lived in various places before 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 education in Classical Riding and principles, being trained consistently by 2 Head Riders of the Spanish Riding School.
When back living in the UK, I took up a temporary job in Gloucestershire, which actually ended up being 3 years. I was ostensibly producing Yearlings for the Racing industry however the job included the husbandry of cows too. It turned out that I loved farm life. I rode Point to Pointers out for fun ……. Classical Dressage meets shorts stirrups, long gallops and huge hedges to jump! I started a few young potential Race horses which were then 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 there was about pure herd behaviour. Understanding the emotional and physical needs of all the various animals, their innate, hard driven behaviour's and their need for herd interactions. This was true for both the cows as well as the horses (broodmares, foals and yearlings). It became a turning point in my life and a direction/fascination I have always 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. Over all the years, I personally bought and re trained several Ex racehorses which I produced for National BE Eventing. Park Preview won the junior section at Burghley 3 day 2001 and was in the top 100 Event horses UK. Some went Team chasing. I bred and produced my own 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 Dressage competition but working Advanced Medium at home.
My Personal Development
As a horse and people 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 a fact that you never stop learning nor should you ever stop trying to either. Over my 3 decades, I have gained a vast experience base on which to draw from on a daily, even moment to moment, basis.
I now follow and apply the principles of Applied Behavioural Science and spend much of my spare time reading books and articles from the world’s most eminent animal training experts. I attend seminars, conferences and animal training workshops to keep learning more and stay ahead as science moves forward.
I am, what is probably called, a cross over trainer. From my roots made in Classical riding and methods through to years of practicing Natural Horsemanship as a training tool, I never felt comfortable with the amount of pressured persuasion /coercion and dominance which is endemic throughout the entire world of horses, horse ownership and horse training.
Dominance training simply does not work with horses. It creates fear, rage, distrust, panic, learned helplessness and shuts horses down. All the associated behaviour’s which stem from these emotions end up working against you, inevitably leading you to be more dominant and apply even more pressure. It is a fallacy to believe you must “master a horse”. We can never “talk Horse” nor be recognised as its leader, because we are human and not a horse! I can promise you that a horse recognizes another horse and recognizes a human is a human. There can never be this cross over falsely sold by many a cowboy type trainers.
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 way into being able to make huge changes to those emotions. As a direct result of all the above, I train horses on the emotional level. I build trust, repair and build true relationships and generally bring harmony and a greater understanding of their horse to every owner and every horse I work with.
My Magazine Work
I write for many magazines both hard copy and online publications. I have been on the Expert Panel for Equine Behaviour for International Morgan Horse, Your Horse, Teen Equine magazine, local community papers and magazines like Cottingham Times, Beverley Advertiser and Driffield and Wolds Weekly, where I provide general horse/pet behaviour stories and advice answering reader’s questions and provide information and content for associated articles.
I have worked as Expert Witness in many litigation cases defending buyers who have been miss sold horses. Some of whom have suffered serious personal injury as a direct result. I supply accurate Behavioural Reports to court and make solid conclusions, backed up and referenced in Science as to the information given at point of sale and the actuality of the animal in front of me.
Animal Trainers Conferences
I have attended and presented to delegates at the 1st,2nd 3rd and 4th International Animal Trainers Conferences at Twycross Zoo, 2013-2017 respectively. This conference brings together experts in all fields of animal training from 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 and The Deep and various other animal/marine collections UK wide where we share training ideas and I watch and learn species specific training, which is awesome!
I have had a Sea lion trainer, a giraffe trainer, a marine mammal trainer and several dog trainers come to me in Skidby to share knowledge, learn from each other and where I gave them an opportunity to play with my horses!
I have been a guest speaker at several conferences including Connection Training in 2016. I have been asked to present to The UK Veterinary Physiotherapists Conference in October 2018.
I have attended Dr Susan Friedman’s 2-day Seminar “Living and Learning with Animals” 2015 and “Advanced Training in Functional Analyses seminar 2016. Dr Friedman PhD from Utah University Psychology Department, is an International expert in animal behaviour. She specializes 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 as to how environment affects/triggers both behaviour per say and using environmental preparation to train for success. She is a stickler for highlighting humans not to label behaviours away from what is actually happening. “Lazy, awkward, fizzy, stubborn, stressy, moody, stupid etc are all anthropomorphic labels and not actual behaviours.
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.
Courses & Workshops
I completed the Edinburgh University Coursera on Animal Welfare and Behaviour. https://www.coursera.org/learn/animal-welfare
I have attended and completed Animal training workshops with Dr Susan Friedman (www.behaviorworks.org/) Chirag Patel (https://www.domesticatedmanners.com) Steve Martin (naturalencounters.com) , Thad Lacinak and Angie Millwood (https://www.precisionbehavior.com) and Barbara Hiedenriech (www.goodbirdinc.com)