Getting back out on the road again to help horse owners resolve problem behaviour.
As the Covid impact lightens, I have been starting to perform more home visits for horse owners in trouble with problem behaviour all over Yorkshire. Being able to be back out on the road again is wonderful. Not only is it very interesting work for me, but It also makes huge inroads into helping the owners understand what is happening and why. At the end of the day, I leave them with a workable training plan and management changes to implement.
So often these owners have tried using ordinary horse trainers who practise traditional or Natural Horsemanship techniques. Sadly, most of these horses have then suffered pressure training to force them to comply which invariably sensitises them instead of the opposite. I see this time and time again
There is a huge difference between a horse trainer and a Behaviour Consultant/expert.
In every single case of observable problem behaviour, I devise a forward training plan which helps the horse to become “present”, to check in with us, to find it can participate in its training and to find that reward comes for every little try on its part. It’s a game-changer for the horse and a breath of fresh air for the worried and desperate owners.
Through the use of modern, ethical, reward-based training protocols, these horses visibly change in front of your eyes. You see them starting to problem solve. They start to impulse control as they seek how to gain reward. Bit by bit they start to lower their defences and actively think their way into allowing touch in untouchable areas or prick their ears instead of flattening them back to warn me off. Flight eliminates and becomes an interested focus instead. Fear becomes inquisitiveness. Defences are lowered and those predictable, dangerous reactions (behaviours) start to alter right in front of your eyes (observable).
These horses start to enjoy the experience and are allowed to enjoy their training. After all, they need to learn to trust their human, to find out that they are allowed to express how they feel without punishment. All my work is based on altering how the horse feels. Rage, fear, flight, fight, panic, distrust, avoidance and defence behaviours are all observable and are the only way the horse can communicate how it feels in that given situation. They are predictable in whatever scenario the owner needs the horse to start to accept be it body handling, injections, worming, leading, loading, clipping etc.
Horses show you how they feel about everything all of the time. Even problem behaviour is information.
The horse that rears, bucks or bolts being ridden is invariably showing avoidance behaviours while being tacked up ( even seeing the tack arrive can cause a horse to disappear to the back of its box) It throws its head as high as it can while the bit is being “put” in or it shuffles about while it is being saddled or kicks out while being girthed. It’s amazing just how much we ignore all this information and even punish the horse for doing what it is doing because we feel frustrated.
Have you ever thought to question why it does what it does before it gets to the point of things becoming impossible?
Can you accept that your horse has a right to feel worried, unhappy, unsafe, distrustful, anxious, angry or scared? Forcing it to comply will only ever escalate its heightened emotional state and lowers its tolerance thresholds. The unwanted behaviours will only ever increase and your relationship becomes really damaged.
I’m here to help anyone in the Yorkshire/Lincolnshire region with home visits.
Worldwide, I help horse owners via video call consultations because they are too far away to actually visit in person.
Watching the viral video of (the formerly highly respected) event rider Mark Todd lashing a horses rump with a huge branch because it was visibly worried and uncertain about stepping into the water, was just so typical of the endemic use of force and pain to make horses comply with our wishes. I, for one, am disgusted with him and certainly expected better from him.
This abuse has to stop and it is totally unnecessary.
If someone on foot or on another horse had simply stepped into the water alongside that young horse, it would have helped that horse feel safe enough to follow. Then it could have been rewarded with fusses or a tasty treat. This would then have given the horse the opportunity to explore the water with its nose and feet and even learn to play in it. Which way is best? It’s a no brainer really- surely? Creating great memories with water – which require effort and a bit more time on our part – or beating it with a big stick 🙁
I am always available to help for problem behaviour on email- email@example.com or phone/text/message on 07720 758425