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The team here at The Horse Trust recently took part in a horse training day kindly lead by Dr Andrew McLean and our newest arrival, Brave, joined in the session.
Andrew holds a PhD in horse training psychology and regularly teaches at Universities and conferences around the world. He developed and manages the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre, the internationally recognised horse training and behaviour modification centre in Australia, and is a trainer and coach. He is also a Honorary Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science.
Andrew was accompanied by Lisa Ashton of Equisci, who delivers horse training clinics and workshops throughout the UK & Europe, as well as organising clinics for Dr Andrew McLean in the UK. Lisa has also provided training for our team here at The Horse Trust.
After an introduction from Andrew, the team went across to the ménage, where Vernon, one of our retired police horses, was the chosen horse to take part in a practical demonstration to show how learning theory can be applied to the training of horses. Andrew helped to develop the International Society for Equitation Science’s First Principles of Horse Training , and explained how these can be applied and how they can be used to ensure horses are trained according to their learning and mental abilities.
We also had our recent arrival Brave joining in on the sessions, poking his head through the crowd to see what all the fuss was about! The chosen horses were assessed by Andrew and he demonstrated how scientific horse training principles can be used to train each horse effectively. He highlighted the different strengths and weaknesses in each horse and the best way to handle them. Andrew stressed how important it was never to treat two horses the same. He emphasised that the First Principles of Horse Training should be followed in all horse training situations, but every horse has their own behaviour patterns and personalities, and you have to be able to adapt your training to each horse to get the best out of them.
Since we specialise in providing respite and retirement for working horses and ponies and a place of sanctuary for horses, ponies and donkeys who have suffered from cruelty or neglect, we have an array of personalities with horses having been trained very differently. On the other side of the spectrum we also have our rescue residents, which in most cases have had little or no human contact before. It was really helpful for Andrew to reiterate the basic principles of horse training as they can be used whilst handling residents from our police horses to rescue cases.
The last session was filled with a catching demonstration, helping the team to identify the safest and most productive way to deal with a horse that is difficult to be caught in the fields. As this is a much larger space, safety is paramount for our team so it was really helpful for Andrew to speak about approach and retreat and give the team some pointers for situations like this. As predicted, our normally cheeky former King’s Troop horse Mr Screwemtight was very co-operative and let Andrew catch him straight away!
Andrew rounded up the day with a question and answer session including an overall conclusion of the day. It was a very educational experience for all here at The Horse Trust, and we are so grateful to have had Andrew and Lisa with us.
International Society for Equitation Science: www.equitationscience.com
Australian Equine Behaviour Centre: www.aebc.com.au