Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Joey - The Horse Who WAS Scared of Bicycles

Joey's owner has been kind enough to let me put this video of him on my blog. He's a great little horse, but he had a fear of bicycles, which was proving a bit tricky with the spring and summer hacking along the country lanes.

Bicycles are just one of the many things we can help with fears and phobias of. We use, and teach equine owners, special techniques to help turn their horse's fear into curiosity. Horses are naturally very curious creatures. By engaging this curiosity, and by understanding and working with the psychology of the horse and knowing how they learn, we can help them overcome their fears.

Joey was scared of bicycles before our training session. This video taken part way through the session shows how our techniques had started to engage his curiosity in them. Our training uses a "step by step" process, helping the horse or pony build confidence every step of the way. By the end of the session, Joey was able to have bicycles come past him from the front or behind along the country lanes.

Joey's owner has been keeping up with his training and they are doing brilliantly. As well as being OK about bicycles now when they are out hacking, Joey has also gained confidence with mopeds. His owner used the same techniques with a horse lorry and Joey being curious about it eagerly loaded himself into the lorry.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Rebel - The Difficult to Catch Horse

The horse in the right of the photo is Rebel - a rather handsome Warmblood. Rebel has a very interesting problem, in that he is afraid of being caught in the field. He originally came from the Continent and has always been known for his catching problem, which had led to some previous owners being reluctant to give him any turnout at all.

Rebel's owner has been able to work out a system to make sure that Rebel can have his needs (such as having the farrier, or vet) seen to, but her aim is to be able to catch Rebel in the field. On our first session, Faye was able to make contact with Rebel - using non-confrontational body language techniques, she was able to get Rebel to be happy with her stroking his face and head in the field. It took an hour...but this was the first time Rebel has been touched in the field for at least 7 years. There's a lot of previous history to undo, and Faye really had to prove to Rebel that she, as a human, is not a threat to him. At the moment we are concentrating on rebuilding Rebel's trust in people when he's being caught...hopefully it won't be too long before his owner is able to interact with him in this way too. Rebel's owner has been brilliant at understanding his problems and giving him as much time as he needs to build positive experiences.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Equine Body Language and Behaviour Weekend

We had another very successful weekend course - it seems that choosing to make this a weekend course was ideal, as it gives a chance for plenty of equine observation, as well as "hands-on" interaction. We spent half a day on Dartmoor observing a few of the wild herds with mares, stallions and foals. The following day, we were based back at Horseford Farm and had a really good opportunity to learn about how to move/herd horses, as well as looking at catching and leading, and seeing what a big affect our human body language has on the horses.

Again, we had excellent feedback ratings for all the aspects of the course. Here's some of the feedback:

"Practical sessions were safe and controlled. The support Faye gave was excellent, in both practical and theory sessions. I found myself seeing horses in a completely different way and even re-thinking of past situations which made me think "of course, that's what they were trying to tell me"! Faye and the horses were brilliant teachers".