Thursday, 30 September 2010

Training the Animal Rescue Unit of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

On Monday 27th September, Understanding Horses ran a special Equine Handling training day for Animal Rescue officers from the specialist unit of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. These firefighters do a brilliant job rescuing horses and ponies from very difficult situations. It's very reassuring to know that help is out there, if you are ever unlucky enough to be in an accident where your horse gets stuck.

Our training day mixed theory with lots of practical, hands-on sessions with our ponies. The firefighters were able to experience the difference between getting close to, and handling, domestic equines as well as those that are nervous and fearful.
(Above, Bobby initally feels very worried about the thought of this yellow strop, but within 5 minutes is happily wearing it after firefighter Stan uses our special techniques to prove to Bobby that it's not scary...whilst Frodo (below) can't understand why it is that horses find umbrellas scary (surely it should be some sort of receptacle for food!!))

Topics covered on the day included:
  • Basic horse psychology and instincts of the horse, and how we incorporate these into our techniques for effectiveness and safety.

  • Learning to interpret and read the body language of the horse.

  • How human actions and body language affect and influence the horse.

  • How to use special techniques to approach wary equines and to acclimatise them to unfamiliar equipment.

  • How to safely lead equines and deal with difficult situations or unusual objects.

It was a very enjoyable day, the ponies were brilliant teachers, and the firefighters were quick learners, with some great natural ability. If all goes to plan, we'll run a level 2 training day for them in spring 2011. We had excellent feedback from the firefighters at the end of the day:

"Excellent experience and insight into equine behaviour".

"Practical session of the course was really beneficial, especially advance and retreat".

"Excellent course, very interesting and informative. Ponies very suitable for course".

"The whole course was very enjoyable and relevant to our profession. I feel substantially better equipped to do my job. The horse psychology was fascinating...The teaching was nearly surpassed by the hospitality!!"

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A few more photos...

Here are a few more photos from the September DASH course, courtesy of Kay Wisker (thank you Kay!). DASH have asked me to run some more equine courses for them, starting in spring next year, so there will be another opportunity to do the "Guide to Horse and Pony Management" course as well as a couple of new course options...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Course for the Devon Association of Smallholders

Last Saturday (11th September) Faye ran her course "A Guide to Horse and Pony Management" for members of the Devon Association of Smallholders. Nine participants from all over Devon came to Horseford Farm to learn about different aspects of equine care - from setting up stabling facilities to basic equine healthcare, worming and feeding.

Course participants included horse owners, members considering having equines on their smallholding, and those about to take delivery of their first horses and ponies. It was a lovely group and it was really nice to have a mixture of teenagers and adults. Everyone participated in activites and Faye was on hand to answer questions all day.

The course is designed to cover conventional ways of horse keeping as well as options such as barefoot/shod or chemical wormers/herbal wormers. By giving information about different options, owners can go away and decide what suits them and their horses best.

Faye received excellent feedback from participants for her teaching. Here's some of the feedback from the day:

"Good comprehensive course for complete beginners and "old hands". The whole course was presented in an interesting and informative way".

"Excellent course overall".

"I found out loads more and has been a confidence boost that what I am doing with my pony is OK".

"All great but superb being able to incorporate all the different individual requirements...Given me an idea of other information to look into re barefoot/shod, feeding herbs, natural wormers/conventional types. Thank you so much".

"Thought it was well-balanced and thought out. Good general information".

Individual lessons for confidence building

As well as running one day courses in confidence building, Faye also offers individuals private lessons. Not everyone likes learning in groups, and Faye offers 1:1 private lessons, either at Horseford Farm, or at the client's facilities. Confidence building is one of our specialities. We achieve results because we take time to understand the people and the horses, we equip our students with the knowledge and skills that they need, and we teach at a pace that suits them. Teaching practical aspects "person to person" is really important, and means that people already feel more confident about what they are doing before they start working with the horses and ponies.

Faye received excellent feedback from her teaching last week..."Well communicated by Faye in a relaxed, calm environment. No pressure on me, unhurried, a fun, positive experience! I enjoyed the mix of theory and practical tuition and being able to put skills into action, initially with Faye and then with Bobby, Rocky and Frodo! A great day which left me feeling "Yes, I can do this"! In one session I feel that I have learnt so much. Thank you".