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Horse Behaviour Consultations

People have problems with their horseís behaviour for a multitude of reasons. Often problems stretch back to how the horse was handled as a foal, how they were weaned and how they were backed and introduced to the riding process. These problems can then be maintained by the way in which the horse is handled and managed and the types of methods people employ to cope with the problem behaviour.

My approach focuses on understanding the root cause of the problem, rather than tackling the symptoms (the problem behaviour) head on. This leads to a longer lasting, more effective result.

  Changing behaviour in a horse requires patience and understanding, and a most of all dedication on the part of the handler. Often it seems like it is the handlerís behaviour that has to change, in order to help the horse. This is generally a very empowering experience and I always aim for clients to go away feeling that they have learnt skills that they can apply to every horse they deal with, and not just the one with the problem!


Why might I want to organise a consultation?

Perhaps your horse's behaviour has changed unexpectedly, or you might be experiencing problems handling or riding your horse. Common problems can relate to trailer loading, catching, hacking out, clipping, shoeing, spookiness at home or at competition, barginess, refusal to stand still.... the list is endless.

Or it might just be that rather than having a specific problem you would like to improve your horse's general handling and responsiveness.


Ok, so I've got a problem- what happens next?

Many psychological problems are related to an underlying physical cause. Therefore all behavioural consultations are seen on veterinary referral. It may be necessary to have the horse's teeth, back and saddle fit checked depending on the nature of the problem, before any behaviour modification can begin.


What is vet referral? Do I have to do anything?

It may be that your vet has referred you on to Dr Helen Spence, in which case you don't need to do anything. However, if you have contacted Helen directly yourself, she will obtain referral from your regular veterinary surgeon. If the horse has not been seen recently and there is a possibility that the problem has a physical root, the vet may wish to see the animal before the behaviour consultation. If you have any doubts please discuss this with your vet.


How do I arrange a consultation?

Phone Dr Helen Spence. Following an initial telephone conversation, you will be sent a pre-consultation questionnaire. A date will be set for the initial consultation and assessment. This can last for 1-2 hours and will include discussion of the history of the horse and the history of the problem, an assessment of the horse's temperament, possible causes of the problem and a discussion of various treatment options according to your needs. A behaviour modification programme will be agreed with you, and a series of short and long term goals will be set. Depending on the nature of the problem, your experience and the time available to devote to the behaviour modification programme, this initial assessment may be followed by a series of follow up visits of approximately one hour duration.