Blog

New training opportunity: video feedback recording

I’m always looking at how I can help people with their training. As you will know if you’ve read my previous blog posts, pre the Covid Pandemic, I wasn’t a huge fan of video/ online lessons, feeling that they were no substitute for actual face to face on the ground support. And I still feel that on the ground, real-time support is the best thing for most people.

But the pandemic forced me on to zoom and online courses, and really helped me appreciate the benefits. They aren’t a substitute for real world coaching, but they are still a good thing! And for some people, the only option. How beneficial they are does depend on the experience level of the individual. If you are novice or just starting out, I definitely recommend you get support from a local trainer who can come out and help you with your horse in the flesh!

But for more experienced horse people, online coaching can be really helpful. I have a number of clients, including highly experienced equine professionals, that I do zoom sessions with on a regular basis.

Sometimes, this just takes the form of chatting through what they’ve been doing, answering questions, and making suggestions. But sometimes, we look at training videos. We can watch them back together, I can pause, rewind, replay and point out body language, what is happening in terms of learning, and what could maybe change or improve going forward.

The thing is, we are all busy people, and it can be hard to get a time in the diary that works (especially since I don’t do evening or weekend sessions!). People can be a bit shy about chatting about their training. Or they don’t enjoy the Zoom format (it can be off-putting seeing yourself on camera!). Or there may not be good enough internet connection for effective zooms. So I’ve decided to offer another option: pre-recorded video sessions. This means you don’t have to chat with me if you don’t want to! And you can view the recording at a time that suits you. All you have to do is

1. First of all make a booking with me for a video feedback recording.

2. Send me a video clip (or series of short clips)

3. I will record the session with me talking through the videos, as I would on a live zoom.

4. I send you access to the recording.

5. You get to watch and rewatch it as many times as you like over the following six months.

I will charge per 15 minutes of clips that you send me. So up to and including 15 mins of clip will cost Β£30 for the feedback session recording, 16 to 30 minutes of clips will cost Β£60 and so on.

If, for some reason, streaming videos doesn’t suit you and you want to download and keep your recording, we can organise this for an additional fee of Β£15 per 15 minutes of clip. The ownership of the copyright remains with me, and the video lesson is not to be shared publicly without my consent.

You can also book a follow up half hour zoom session if you want to chat through any of the feedback after you’ve reviewed it. If you book the zoom at the same time as you book the feedback, you can have the half hour at the discounted price of Β£10. Otherwise, zooms are charged at the normal rate.

Video feedback is a really useful tool, allowing us to point out fine details in training, nuances of body language and really focus in on the ABC’s (antecedent, behaviour, consequences) of training. You can use this to support your ‘real world’ coaching, complementing the work you are doing with your trainer/ coach.

This is of value for riders and trainers in all disciplines, improving observation, timing, and understanding. Perhaps you are a coach who would like some feedback on the training they are doing with clients. Or a horse owner just wanting to improve your training skills. Maybe you’re a dressage rider wanting to improve relaxation and look at ways of making your training a more positive experience for your horse, or perhaps you’re a Pony Club coach wanting to better your understanding of learning theory.

Perhaps you are a coach and you and your client want to share a session so that you can both benefit from the feedback.

As an expert and qualified professional in the psychology of learning and training, equine behaviour and body language, and with a keen interest in riding position, posture and the impact on the horse, I can help you refine your training, with the goal of increasing relaxation in the horse, helping reduce stress and improve their understanding of what is being asked, through improving your training skills.

As with all my coaching, sessions are fully confidential and videos will not be shared publicly without client consent.

In order to make a booking, just contact me via phone 07773 157428, WhatsApp message, or email spencehorsesense@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you!! Spaces will be limited and preference given to existing clients, but I am always glad to welcome enquiries from new clients 😊.

Helen xo

Happy Christmas!!

It is nearly Christmas Eve and here is my third and final gift to you to say thank you for all the support and kind words 😊. I couldn’t do this without you all! I am so blessed to have a job I love. In March 2023 I will be celebrating 20 years in this business, which I find hard to believe. The horse world has gone through many changes in that time. I am so delighted to see more and more people paying attention to how their horses feel, training in a way that listens to the horse, is kind, understanding the importance of managing their horses in ways that help them to live a more natural life.

My final Christmas gift to you is my course on The Difficult to Catch Horse. In this course, you will learn about the underlying issues that can contribute to catching difficulties, as well as techniques for making catching easier. Even if your horse is easy to catch, you will find this interesting, with lots of practical videos and a good opportunity to observe body language and think about your relationship with your horse. The course, like the other two, will be available for FREE until the 6th of January 2023. Once you have signed up, you will have access for six months. To sign up for the course, just click on the link below:

https://helenspence.podia.com/the-difficult-to-catch-horse

My Christmas holidays have begun. I’ll be back to work on Wednesday, 4th January, so any emails or messages will be replied to then.

No matter your beliefs or backgrounds, Christmas is about giving and sharing, so I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸ΄πŸŽπŸŽπŸŽ„

Helen xo

Gift time again!

It’s the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year for us here in the northern hemisphere. I love being able to look forward to the evenings stretching and fun times to come with the horses. So I’m feeling full of goodwill and delighted to be able to offer another FREE gift to you all! Once more with no strings attached and for no reason other than a thank you to all who have supported my business over the last year. But the gift isn’t just for my clients and colleagues, it’s for anyone 😊.

For those of you who haven’t already got it, the first gift I offered was free access to one of my online talks, ‘Learning in Young Horses’ . This offer is available until 6th January 2023. To access just click on this link

https://helenspence.podia.com/learning-in-young-horses

But I thought that one gift wasn’t enough, so I’m going to give another one. So I’m offering access to my ‘How Horses Learn Best: Learning Theory in Context’ for FREE! This was approved as CPD for BHS APCs when it was first launched in 2020, and will be of value to anyone who coaches, works with horses, or is just interested to learn more. This offer will also be available until the 6th January 2023. To access this offer, just click on

https://helenspence.podia.com/view/courses/learning-theory-in-context

I might just have time to squeeze in another gift before Christmas, so watch this space. If you subscribe to/ follow my blog https://spencehorsesense.com/blog/ then you will always be up to date with any news and offers.

Or follow me on Instagram as @helenspencehorsesense. Install the app to follow my photos and videos. https://www.instagram.com/invites/contact/?i=hiso3grqlq4u&utm_content=q2ggy0l

Or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spencehorsesenseNI

πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸ΄πŸŽ Thank you!!! Helen xo

Christmas Gift!

It is the season of good will so I decided that it would be nice to give you all some gifts and special offers as a Thank you for, well, just being you, wanting to learn about behaviour, and caring about your horses!

So to kick it all off, I’m starting with a FREE gift! You can sign up for my course here:

https://helenspence.podia.com/learning-in-young-horses

Completely free of charge!

This lecture/ talk is based on material I originally delivered as part of staff training for the Blue Cross in 2016. In it I discuss socialisation, weaning, and other factors that influence the development of the young horse at different stages and how they impact on learning.

Understanding these issues help us to make effective training and management choices when working with young horses of all ages, from foals to four year olds. This talk will be of interest to breeders, owners and trainers of youngstock.

This will also be of interest to owners of older horses that are keen to understand some of the reasons for why their adult horses might behave as they do.

My first experience of youngstock in a commercial setting was as a teenager when I took my work experience placement at a large Thoroughbred stud. A few years later I had a summer job working at a family run sport horse stud. There was a marked contrast in how the stallions, mares and youngstock were managed in these different settings and I learned a lot through observing these differences and the impact they had on the handleability of the horses I was working with.

In the decades since then, both in my personal life and in my role as both a trainer and a clinical equine behaviourist, I have had the opportunity to work with a vast range of horses from very differing backgrounds, some with very challenging behavioural issues.

I’ve also handled and trained foals and youngstock raised more naturally, allowed to wean naturally and given very positive first experiences of humans.

I have been able to observe first hand the problems that can arise from abrupt weaning and traumatic early handling and I feel that one of the best steps we can take to reduce the incidence of problem behaviour in the horse population is to improve the way in which we handle, manage and train young horses, from foalhood up.

Does this sound of interest to you? If so, click on the link and sign up!

Seasons greetingsπŸŽ„

Helen xo

Lost nerve? Risk averse? Or just plain sensible. And a better trainer because of it.

A little while ago I told a friend that I thought I’d lost my nerve. She immediately, and very kindly, said I could come and ride her quiet mare any time I like. I considered this very thoughtful offer and realised that I hadn’t explained myself clearly at all. I hadn’t actually lost my nerve at all, I would happily get on a horse that I knew, as long as they were relatively safe and sensible and I knew they’d be happy to be ridden. What had actually happened was I’d become more risk averse. I didn’t want to do anything risky that might result in a fall and injury.

I last fell off a few years ago and had a very near miss. My horse at the time got panicked by a stag and spooked then bucked repeatedly, then when I hit the floor he put both hind feet on my left leg as he bounced off and galloped away from the scene in blind panic. Very fortunately for me we were in a stubble field and it was after a spell of wet weather so the ground was very soft and my leg, instead of breaking, sank into the muck. After a moment or two to gather myself, I was able to get up and hobble after him, bruised but thankfully not broken.

I think that was the point when it dawned on me that I really couldn’t afford to get injured! I am self employed and if I can’t work, I don’t get paid. I’m also a mum, my husband works full time and we have a menagerie of animals. Who would care for them all if I was incapacitated?

Quite apart from anything else, in many cases, accidents happen when horses are a bit stressed, a bit overloaded, a bit unhappy about what is going on. Ethically, morally, this doesn’t sit well with me. Why would I be sitting on a stressed horse? Yes, I want to feel safe, but I also really really want my horse to feel safe. And that means training with care and managing situations so that potential threats are minimised or avoided where possible.

The fall I had happened because of a factor beyond my control: I didn’t know there was going to be a stag on the other side of the hedge. But I did know that there had been a stag hanging around the farm, and the horses had been unsettled as a result. And I did know that my horse was not his usual happy self that ride, and hadn’t been for a few days. I had been testing things out and trying to work out what was bothering him. Of course, if I had been one of my clients, I’d have said,’Don’t ride until we get to the bottom of this’. I would definitely have said,’If he seems unusually tense, just hop off and lead him home’. So I did take a risk, I rode a less than happy horse, and I paid the price. I learned my lesson!!

Over the few years since that happened, I have definitely become more risk averse. The covid pandemic hasn’t helped, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. But what I’m appreciating now, more than ever, is that we absolutely must pay attention to how our horses are feeling, and respond appropriately. There is rarely, if ever, a place for a ‘sit tight and kick on’ attitude. We aren’t ‘giving horses confidence’ when we do this. We are in fact bullying/ donineering/ forcing them through sheer strength both physically and strength of will.

The best thing we can do is, in fact to listen to the horse. Offer reassurance. Hop off and use our positively trained tools to help them re-engage with us and shift their focus off whatever is worrying them and back on to us. Retreat if necessary. Return to a safe space. Do whatever we need to stay safe in that moment and then make a training plan so that whatever has happened to upset the horse doesn’t happen again.

I have a lovely young horse at the moment, my gorgeous Kaikoura. He came to me as an unhandled, late gelded, very kind but very strong three year old. He has been a slow training process because I’ve had to work really hard to teach him to stay with me no matter what. He would have been a nightmare with traditional training methods. He was so strong and had learned to use his strength incredibly effectively in the herd environment. Plus, he had a very reactive nervous system and was very quick to spook and run.

But he’s such a sweet horse, incredibly cuddly and kind, and he has come around amazingly. I’m still taking the riding slowly because I don’t like taking risks anymore, and I don’t want to ride him unless he’s relaxed and happy in his environment. He likes the odd little sport, for fun, and that’s okay and easy to sit, I don’t mind that so much. But he doesn’t like surprises. Whereas in the pa, t he would have spooked and run, with careful work, we’ve now got to the stage where he spooks on the spot. The spooks are much smaller and more rideable, but there is still work to do. By paying close attention to his stress/ arousal levels, I can make sure that he doesn’t get stacked up. This means he is less reactive, and the spooks are not so big.

When I think back 10 or 20 years, I’m fairly sure I would have taken more risks with this horse. We might have been doing more at this point, but I don’t think I would have had the same overall progress with him.

I think there’s a lot to be said for the saying ‘Go slower, you’ll get there faster’!

More importantly, the moral of this story is LISTEN to your horse. Take steps to help them feel better. Never feel under pressure to make things happen within a time frame. Go at your horse’s pace. And don’t worry about not wanting to take risks, you’ll be a better trainer because of it!!