Saturday, August 22, 2009

22nd August, 2009 General Advice

Here it is:

General Advice as to How to Approach a Behavioural Problem

Step 1: Check the physical
If you want to work in an ethical way with your horse you need to rule out as far as possible whether there could be a physical cause for any behavioural problem. If in doubt, get a second opinion.

I am happy to come out and see whether I think your horse might have a physical problem. However, I am not a qualified back person or saddle fitter and can only spot the obvious.

Horses can only express their physical pain through body language and changes in gait/ performance. Back pain is a common cause for ridden problems and often coupled with a poorly fitting saddle. Gastric ulcers are common in horses that are stabled for a significant of the time. Teeth problems can be a cause for resistance or even rearing.

Who to contact
The vet is a good first port of call along with a Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist or McTimoney-Corley Practitioner for back problems. You might also want to consider contacting a good saddle fitter. Consider the vet or a qualified dental technician for teeth.

Step 2: Check your underlying relationship
Does your horse see you as his leader?

If your horse moves you around and you can’t move him around, it could be undermining your relationship. If your horse is bargey or takes you for walks, snatches at grass, bites, kicks or is otherwise aggressive then you could benefit from a groundwork session with me.
Horses need good leadership.

I specialise in helping people to establish leadership with their horse. Using non-violent methods I can help you with good groundwork exercises that do not involve a system or drilling.

Step 3: Is your horse frightened of anything?
Has your horse got confidence issues brought about by a fear of people or things?

If your horse is generally nervous or worried about specific things then you could benefit from learning about desensitisation techniques.

I can provide sessions addressing general or specific fear and show you how to continue with that work in a sensitive and logical way.

Step 4: Has your horse missed out on an important stage in his education?
There is a strong economic incentive to break horses in quickly so that they can be sold on or competed.

If your horse is struggling with confidence levels or fitness or you suspect that he has been pushed into an outline before he was ready then it might help if you were to go back and fill in any gaps in his education.

I can provide sessions covering long reining, confidence building and basic ridden work which are designed to be relaxing and fun for your horse.

Quirky problems

Do you find that you are having to cope with or manage problems on an everyday basis or avoid doing things because you know your horse will be difficult?

Many problems get worse over time if they are not addressed. For example, ear shyness, reluctance to have a bridle on, catching issues, difficulty worming, biting, bitting, aggression etc.

If your horse has any quirky problem that you would like to have addressed then I may well be able to help. Many problems can be resolved fairly simply once you are shown how and more complex problems can be addressed over time. Time and patience are very important with horses, but time, patience AND technique is the real key.

Wild ponies

Semi-feral, rescued or traumatised ponies have often had poor experiences with people in the past.

Semi-feral, rescue ponies or even the occasional domesticated pony may be difficult to get near, to catch or to lead.

I am considered to be an expert in handling and training semi-feral, rescue, traumatised and shy ponies and can provide one to one or group training in how to handle these ponies. I have also written a book, No Fear, No Force, detailing how to work with these ponies in a gentle and ethical way.

Specific problems: I cannot give detailed advice on how to deal with a specific problem with a specific horse without seeing the horse concerned. A typical visit would include a full assessment and to make a good start in the work needed in order to leave you in a position where you can continue. Further sessions might be necessary depending on the nature of the problem and the level of support that you need. All visits are followed by a detailed report of the work that we have done and the suggestions that I have made.