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The Horse Trust's Research & Quality of Life Director, Liane

Meet Liane, our Quality of Life and Research Director, for September’s Hay There!

For this week’s Hay There we were delighted to sit down with Liane Preshaw, our Equine Quality of Life and Research Director. Liane started with The Horse Trust in 2007 and will soon be coming up to her 16th anniversary with us! Liane’s passion for equine welfare drives her to tirelessly explore ways we can make horses happier and healthier. Her mission is to spread the importance of understanding and meeting horses’ behavioural needs far and wide. We’re glad she’s on this journey with The Horse Trust.

Although Liane sees herself as a cog in the workings of our charity, we wanted to shine a special light on all of the amazing work she has done and continues to do for horses, both at our Home of Rest and for the wider equine population.

Liane is usually the one behind the camera rather than in front of it, busy supporting the team with multiple projects behind the scenes. It’s safe to say this was a slightly alien experience for her, so thank you Liane for sitting down with us Louis Theroux-style!

Liane has dedicated nearly 16 years of her life to The Horse Trust, and many more to the wellbeing of horses… Naturally, the first thing we wanted to know was:

What sparked your love for horses?

Liane explains that her family weren’t horsey, but after starting to learn to ride aged 9 she was hooked and became one of those “90’s horse-mad children”! She explains that she couldn’t get enough of learning about horses, and that passion has never left her.

At 18, Liane decided to study for a degree in Equine Science at what is now Hartpury University. After graduating, Liane worked in London for 4 years doing Bloodstock insurance. During this time, she began a part-time MSc in Equine Science at Writtle University College, which is where she really developed her passion for equine wellbeing.

When she explains her job at The Horse Trust to her four-year-old son, Liane says:

“Mummy’s job is to make horses happier.”

For Liane, it is important that everyone who cares for a horse understands what behaviours they need to perform in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. “When a horse is unable to perform behaviours that are normal for their species, they can develop unwanted and sometimes dangerous behaviours”, she says.  Meeting horses’ behavioural needs may sound straightforward to achieve, but there are lots of challenges that caregivers face in trying to do so. Part of Liane’s job is to understand these challenges and help develop solutions to overcome them.

“Horses lives have a value to them, not just to us” she says, “Seeing things from the horse’s perspective is really important for improving equine wellbeing”.

A day in the life of Liane

Liane researches optimal ways to care for, manage and train horses so that we can apply this knowledge to our herd and the wider equine population.

Liane has achieved pre-certification as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist with CCAB Certification (formerly ASAB Accreditation) and is working towards full accreditation. She assists the team with horses who are performing unwanted or problematic behaviours and provides a behaviour support service to people who have horses on loan from The Horse Trust. Over the next year Liane will be stepping in to help with behaviour cases on a more regular basis while Charlotte, the star of last month’s Hay There, is on maternity leave.

Liane organises monthly webinars and other training to help support people working towards becoming equine-specific clinical animal behaviourists. Liane says there are currently only 13 clinical animal behaviourists specialising in equids in the UK as it is a very hard standard to achieve. To ensure caregivers get the most humane and effective support when they experience challenges with their horses’ behaviour, it is important they can access a competent and qualified equine-specific behaviourist in their area. Liane says, “The behaviour sector has come on a long way, but we still have a lot of work to do to maintain standards and support new people coming through the system”.

Liane’s role has very much evolved alongside the needs of the charity, which has seen a huge shift in its focus towards horse behaviour and recognising the importance of mental as well as physical wellbeing. “Over recent years the wider equine sector has also started to appreciate the importance of this, which is great to see”, says Liane.

Tell us about a particularly memorable moment at The Horse Trust…

Liane explained she was presenting the results of her MPhil research at the International Society for Equitation Science conference in Rome and was 5 months pregnant. Rome was experiencing a heat wave so on the last day of the conference she wore bedtime shorts as she was so uncomfortable. Little did she know she would win the award for the best student oral presentation and had to come on stage in front of hundreds of people to accept it!

And finally, something you wish more people knew about The Horse Trust?

For Liane, it always comes back to the work The Horse Trust does in improving our understanding of equine behaviour and mental wellbeing, and increasing caregivers’ access to competent and qualified equine behaviourists. These topics are becoming more mainstream now, which is something she is very proud to have assisted with.

We are all very grateful to Liane for the hard work she puts into supporting The Horse Trust team whilst advancing the care of horses in our fabulous herd and beyond. We won’t keep her any longer as we know she will have many projects to tend to no doubt!

Your kind support enables us to continue to drive the development of our understanding into equine behaviour and mental wellbeing. The more we can do this, the more we can continue to provide the best standards of care for our herd and share this knowledge with the wider equine community. To find out how you can support us, head to the link below.

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