My Services. Prices. FAQ.
I offer calm, gentle and non-violent help with horses & ponies that have behavioural issues.
Below are some examples of the types of problems that I get called out for:
General ground manners. Some horses or ponies have never been taught general ground manners and have then developed behavioural problems such as: barging, having no respect for the handler's personal space, not standing still to mount, walking off as soon as mounted, or generally bolshy or flighty in manner.
Leading. It is not then therefore unusual to find that the horse described above doesn't lead well, perhaps always pulling in front of the handler, or tanking off if spooked. With this type of problem then the horse may think nothing about nudging you all the time with his/her head and perhaps always walking too close for comfort, instead of walking calmly with their nose in line with your shoulder, remaining a good arms length away from you, mirroring your footsteps and speed of walk (but with absolutely no pressure from the lead rope), and also stopping immediately you stop walking.
This can all be easily achieved in a short space of time. Check out Seren's video in my 'case study' section to see an example of what we are aiming at with the leading work.
Loading problems are a common call out. Calls can range from the dangerous horse that loads but then tries to fly back out of the horse trailer at the speed of lightning! (in this case it may be also that the horse has a tendancy to rush doors and gateways generally), to the horse or pony that refuses point blank to load, and just plants themselves at the bottom of the ramp (usually for a not so relaxing few hours!)
There are the ones that walk half way up the ramp and then refuse to go in, or those that evade off to the side of the ramp, or rear upwards.
But sometimes there are those that are genuinely frightened because it is either something new for them or perhaps they may have had a bad experience or past accident whilst either loading or travelling.
Occasionally there may be the horse that won't actually come out of the trailer! (not so common).
Travelling problems such as: chlaustrophobic behaviour from the horse or pony that panics and kicks out once in trailer, or generally a bad traveller who is terrifed or shaking during the journey are also common.
It is also not unusual to find that a horse or pony previously loaded happily and then suddenly is unhappy to load.
For help with loading problems or training horses to load, then depending on the individual horse and /or the nature of the problem then several follow up visits may be required. There is a video on my Facebook page of me working with and helping a horse to overcome her fear of loading .
Catching. Whether this be foals or a horse or pony that is generally hard to catch, this is one of my favourite problems that I really love working with.
Foot handling problems dare I say it, are perhaps my favourite problem (yes, I know what you are thinking now,"Gill needs to get out more" - true!) possibly because of seeing the huge difference it has made to the quality of Duke's life featured in my case study page. To see him so much more relaxed generally and not having to harbour and carry around that fear constantly within himself is really lovely and rewarding to see.
Typical problems are horses or ponies that tend to be difficult with giving their feet to the farrier, either kicking out or not standing still, or generally not wanting to give their feet willingly. I love these problems, so make my day and give me a call!
Head shy. The horse or pony that is funny about anything touching his/her ears or head in general, including your hand; or perhaps doesn't like anything above their head, hard to bridle etc.
Spookiness. Horses or ponies that seem to be frightened of their own shadow! Making a horse safe and bombproof for a child to ride. Making a safer, quieter hack. Work includes desensitisation to umbrellas, bikes, different noises, traffic, binbags and bins, sheep and cattle etc. the list is endless really, according to your imagination of what you might encounter whilst out and about.
Clipping. Some horses have a fear of being clipped. Work here is based around desensitising your horse to the noise and feel of the clippers.
Starting young horses. I have successfully started several young horses over the years, and have space to take horses in for backing during the spring and summer months only, or alternatively I am willing to come out to your premises if a suitable, safe area is available to work in, (hire of my portable claydon round pen may be possible) to prepare the horse for its first rider.
I work together with my rider Alex who is fantastic with youngsters and remedial horses, she is calm and patient and has a natural feel and understanding of young horses,and we work well together. I concentrate on all the ground work preparation and work with Alex through the early stages of your horse being backed after which she continues developing the horse accordingly to the owners wishes. Alex is also available independently to exercise or school horses and can be contacted through me at this site.
The horse would need to be physically sound before any work commenced and if in any doubt about this then I would need confirmation from a vet or qualified equine physiotherapist or relevant practicioner, to be able to continue.
My work would include: Join up and Follow up, polite ground manners and good to lead, foot handling preparation for the farrier and trimming, long-lining, fully accepting the saddle and rider, a suitable degree of spookbusting, introducing the horse to the various objects, sounds (including show sounds, clapping, bells etc) and scary things that it might encounter when out and about in the real World. Also then training the horse to stand still to mount and dismount, which is SO important particularly from a safety point of view, the `walk' and trot aid and a degree of hind quarter control and lateral movement as appropriate with each horse. Finally we make sure that the horse is happy hacking out by itself to meet its new World both independently and in the company of other horses if requested.
The horse/pony would be mainly ridden off a Monty Roberts dually headcollar which it would be trained with and therefore familiar with.
I can introduce mouthing of the bit subject to the horse's mouth being checked out by an Equine Dental Technician, but until the horse or pony is more developed in the mouth and is a little older and more experienced then I don't recommend a bit for riding in these early stages, this allows for the mouth to remain soft. Please note however that if you are riding out of your premises in public areas, you would need to check with your insurance company to see if you are insured to ride out in a dually halter as this is not classed as a bridle. Wearing a bridle over or under the dually, whichever sits better, can work well in these early stages so you can have 2 sets of reins, one on the dually and one on the bit, so you can switch accordingly to help keep the mouth soft. There are also plenty of bitless bridles available now a days, so finding one to suit your horse in these early stages is something I can help with.
Long lining. An incredibly useful skill to have, which is fun and easy to learn, keeping yourself fit, building your confidence of handling your horse on the ground and above all a great fun and easy way to exercise your horse.
The benefits that long lining offer to the horse are numerous including being a fantastic confidence builder for the nappy or young horse.
Long lining is physically beneficial to the horse, allowing the horse's spine to stay in alignment with its head at all times and keeps your own body in a position that isn't contradictory to what you are asking of the horse, the horse therefore working more willingly and not displaying resentful, frustrating behaviour, which can sometimes be the case with traditional lungeing.
I am happy to come out and help you develop this wonderful skill which is easy to learn and gives you an alternative, fun packed, exercise option that you can do with your horse or pony.
What to do if you have a horse or pony that you think fits one (or several) of the descriptions above:
Firstly, you can breathe out a sigh of relief, and realise that you are not alone. You are DEFINITELY not the only person that is experiencing whatever problem you are experiencing.
Secondly, you can rest assured that I can help you find a way forwards for both you and your equine partner.
Thirdly, There is a contact form under 'contact me' on this site, that enables you to email me directly. Please outline a brief history of your horse, age, breed, how long you have owned him or her for and details of the help you would like. I may then need to email you a more detailed 'profile form' for you to fill in and return to me prior to my consultation visit. The profile form asks more detailed questions about your horse enabling me to gather as much information as I can prior to my visit so that I can get straight down to work on the day.
Due to my busy work schedule, long hours and poor mobile reception I am often unable to talk initially by phone, so email is the best way to contact me or messenger on Facebook.
Finally, if you decide you would like me to visit, then please email me suggested dates and times of when you are available and I will try my best to co ordinate with you.
Consultation: Based on my hourly rate. This first visit lasts for approximately 2 hours, enabling me to assess your horse and also to observe you working with your horse if applicable. This fee also includes (if applicable and wanted) a written report of the visit along with a personalised training plan outling the suggested work needed and also what to practise between now and the next visit. cost: £80 plus travel (see below).
Hourly rate: £40
Cost of 2 hour consultation session: £80
Minimum call out fee: £40
Travel costs at £0.40 per mile round trip will need to be added to the session fee.
Please note that I f there are several horses in one place, this has the advantage of travel costs being shared equally amongst owners.
Gift vouchers for special occasions are now available. These are prooving popular for Christmas and Birthday presents. If you would like one then please e mail me with the details.
Lastly I would like to say that my aim with my work is to set the horse's training up for success, to therefore enable and help the horse to understand more easily what is being asked. Keeping the environment calm and conducive to learning is I believe a key factor in determining the horse's progress, along with consistency and always keeping the horse's best interest at heart.
Horses are intelligent animals. If the horse is not doing what we expect or would like them to be doing, then I think it is because we as an owner or handler have not yet figured out where we are going wrong with our line of communication to the horse. If communication is clear and consistent and the horse experiences no violence or pain then the willing nature of the horse always comes to light.
I always work at the horse's own pace - When the horse shows that it is willingly and calmly understanding and accepting what is being expected of him or her, then this is the right time or should I say a `good time' to move on to the next stage of training.
Finally I would like to thank you very much for viewing my website which I hope you will have found interesting.
I look forward to meeting you and your horse or pony in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long will it take to fix the problem?
Well this depends on the nature of the problem and how bad it is, how committed you are to practicing what I suggest you practice in between visits, and the nature of your individual horse. It is very common for people to want a quick fix and whilst this is sometimes possible, it is only possible to work successfully if we work at the horse's own pace. The horse will decide whether he/she is ready to move onto the next stage, my job is to read these signs as clearly as possible and keep communication as clear and effective with the horse as I possibly can. By having a clear understanding of what to practice when I leave and then the owner/handler committing to actually doing this practice, then progress can be very quick.
Once the horse's problem is fixed does this mean it is fixed for good?
This is a common question that I usually get asked before visiting and my answer is generally "yes".
HOWEVER, take a catching problem for example. If I have so called `fixed' the problem and by this I mean I can now walk into the field and approach the horse, put a head collar on without any resistance from the horse and then lead the horse from here, and then the next day the handler/owner walks into the field in a rush and in a straight line towards the horse, waving the headcollar frantically and calling out in a high pitched voice to the horse ( which spells danger!!) and the horse rushes off, then the fact that the horse is running away should really be of no surprise!
It is not that the horse then has a catching problem, but that the horse is responding perfectly normally to body language that says "flee", reading a high energy and flapping arms walking or possibly running towards him which he interprets as "sending away". So effectively the horse has done exactly what the human was asking.
So this is why I like to work with the handler/owner and make sure that they have firstly a good understanding of exactly why the problem arose in the first place, then how I am going about "fixing" it and then what work is necessary for the owner/handler to practice in order to continue the progress of the horse. I try to let the handler/owner have as much hands on experience as possible and I try to teach as much as possible about the horse's language to help the owner/handler have a greater understanding. This then enables them to have more of a chance to know what to do when the horse presents them with something unexpected. This way problems can be avoided and both the confidence of the horse and owner/handler grows.
How long will it take to back my horse?
This would depend on whether the horse is basically untouched or whether someone has previously attempted to back the horse and failed.
The basically untouched horse is the more straight forward to work with, and this type of horse can be accepting its first saddle and rider within a short amount of time. Again though I would like to stress that it is not about speed but about working at the horse's own pace and what the horse can comfortably cope with. If the horse is naturally confident and nothing much phases him/her then I am able to work much quicker, but if the horse is naturally very sensitive and spooky and nervous in character then I would take things more slowly and break things down into smaller stages.
However the horse accepting it's first saddle and rider doesn't really class the horse as being backed in my opinion.
I like to make sure that the horse leads well and has good ground manners.
I also like to make sure that the horse has a degree of spook busting done with it and introduce the horse to everyday things that it might encounter whilst out and about.
The horse would need to be re-backed each day gradually building up the length of time that the rider is on the horse's back.
It is hugely important that the horse is trained to stand still whilst mounting and dismounting and to move off the leg responsively into a calm but confident walk.
Stopping, left and right turns and backing up are also taught, firstly on long lines and then transferred to the ridden work.
I like to make sure that the horse has walked out in hand on a circular route several times, and then if possible and the route is safe enough, to have long-lined the route a few times, and then lastly to be ridden on this route but with a handler clipped on with a 30ft line, gradually dropping back and then leading, dropping back, leading etc.
I generally allow a minimum of 4-6 weeks to achieve the above, but sometimes it can be quicker depending on the horse. More time allows the learning to become more engrained though.
Mouthing is something I can introduce your horse to as well. Please see the paragraph on `starting young horses' in the services section.
Further work is obviously needed to teach the horse the various different gaits, but only after these starting points are well established and you have a horse that is willingly and confidently accepting the above. Some owners prefer to carry this on and develop the horse themselves but is is something both myself and my rider Alex are happy to assist with through home visits.
Again I like to work with the owner/rider/handlers as much as possible to help and support them as much as possible so they have as much understanding of their horse as possible. This enables them to continue successfully the development of the horse.
On the other hand, being presented with a horse that has been backed unsuccessfully is not so straight forward. This I would then treat as a rehabilitation case and depending upon the nature of the problem and the character of the horse can take much longer.
Would you mind if my friend came along to watch you work with my horse?
No, not at all! In fact the more people who would like to come and watch the better as far as I am concerned. There may be certain occasions however, where it might be more fair on the horse if fewer people were around, but generally I am fine with observers.
Would you be happy to come out to our livery yard and give a talk and/or demonstration of your work?
Yes I would love to! I am happy to combine talking, interspersed with me actually demonstrating my work on perhaps one or several of the horses at your livery which perhaps have particular problems. In July 2013 I was invited to do a talk demo for the local Veterinary Health Centre at the Cross Country Equine Clininc in Devauden for the vets and nurses there.
I called this talk/demo 'First Impressions' as they specifically wanted to focus on how to introduce themselves and/or strange equipment to an unfamiliar nervous/flightly horse in need of treatment.
I have a 50ft portable round pen which can be erected either on grass, or in a decent sized menage which I have taken with me to various venues in the past to do demos. It can be easily erected in an outdoor or indoor menage.
Do you run courses, workshops or clinics?
Yes I do from time to time and advertise these on my Facebook page. What does work quite well is if several people have problems with their horses in one place (ie. livery yard) then I am happy to come out each day at my daily rate and divide the day into equal sessions for the horses. Generally 3 horses a day is the maximum, but this would depend upon the nature of the problem. This could be anything from 1 day to 7 days, but regardless of this I then organise each day and sessions according to the nature of the problems, keeping the time allocated to each horse the same.
One day visits are more of a `how to approach the problem' theme and obviously some progress would be seen during the session, but it is more interesting to see the progress over several days. Three is a good number of days, however the number of days is just dependant upon what people would like.
I welcome observers and each of the horse owners to sit in on the other sessions taking place in order to learn as much as possible. I have no objections to the livery or venue charging for observers, all I require is my hourly rate and travel expenses, and a suitable safe place to work in.
Please do feel free to e-mail me any further questions, the above are just some of the more common ones that I have been asked.