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Black Friday Sale!

I know, I know, you’re probably all bombarded with Black Friday offers, but I thought I might as well join in! It’s just a nice way of offering my courses at a low price to make them as accessible as possible 😊.

So for those of you that maybe didn’t realise, I have a range of online courses full to the brim with theory and practical video lessons and a few handouts too.

I’m offering a 50% discount to everyone for use on all the courses between now and Sunday evening at 11.30pm GMT. To activate the discount, just input the coupon code BLACKFRIDAYSALE when you get to the checkout.

In order to purchase any of the courses you can visit https://helenspence.podia.com/ to see the selection available.

There are a range on offer, including three brand new courses, one on clicker training, one on catching and one on trailer loading.

Or perhaps you are interested in learning a bit more about how horses learn, or management and training of young horses?

Or maybe you want to understand a bit more about how best to get started training with food, or some of the issues around using pressure in training.

Whatever your training interests there will hopefully be something there for you, and with prices down to 50% of what is shown on the images above, you will get a real bargain!

Treat yourself to an early Christmas present!

Here’s the link again in case you can’t be bothered scrolling back up the page 🤣

And remember the coupon code is BLACKFRIDAYSALE

http://www.helenspence.podia.com

Helen xo

Media, memories and more. …

I had a bit of sad news recently. A few weeks ago, I was working late, preparing my presentations for the lectures I was doing for the vet students at Liverpool University. I had been going through video clips, which I had saved on an expansion drive. Most of them were also saved on memory cards, but I realised that a big chunk of my training videos needed backing up. ‘I must do that’ I said to myself, as I closed everything up, ready for bed. Then as I stood up, I managed to catch the edge of the expansion drive and drop it on the hard kitchen floor. I picked it up, and, hoping for the best, headed off to bed. Imagine my horror when, next day, I plugged it in and it was no longer working. The following few weeks were spent with it being looked at by various specialists. Meanwhile I went through what felt very much like a grieving process, as I realised what I might have lost. Unfortunately, at the end of it all, they were unable to retrieve any of the data for me. The pain has gradually dulled, although I keep remembering things that I’ve lost and then there is a little sharp stab of regret. I know I’ve only myself to blame, it was entirely my fault for not getting round to backing them up. I’m not looking for sympathy with this blog post, but I’d like to share some of what I’ve been thinking this last while as I adjust to the loss.

I found myself wondering just why I was so upset? What was it about those videos that was so irreplaceable? After all, I still have all the footage of my daughter over the years, of family holidays and of her riding the various different ponies and horses that she’s learned with. All I’ve lost are work related videos. Sure I can just re record those with different horses?

Yes, certainly I can record new footage. But the stuff that is lost is irreplaceable. I hadn’t realised just how much until it was gone. In the autumn of 2019, two young cob connemara crosses came to live with us. Benvarden Blue Bayou and Benvarden Kaikoura. They were three years old, recently gelded, curious, friendly but pretty much unhandled and untrained. Over the years I have started a number of youngsters on my own and for clients. With these two boys, I planned to film every training session so that I could then put together a course for trainers, showing how you can start a horse with a focus on appetitive stimuli, but still produce a ridden horse that responds happily to ‘normal’ aids and could be sold on to a rider with traditional background. I wanted to show the world the benefits of training this way and how we can produce horses that are safe, calm, willing, and as the FEI terms it ‘happy athletes’. I know I’m not alone in working this way, there are more and more trainers out there who use these methods. So you could argue that me losing this footage isn’t much of a loss to the world! But it is a loss to me. So just why do I grieve it so much?

I painstakingly recorded everything. Introducing them to the clicker. Teaching start and end signals. Calmness around the food. Liberty leading. Target training. Cues for yielding to pressure but using a target. Introducing the headcollar and leading. Introducing the tack. Standing by the mounting block. Loose schooling, long reining, lunging. Lying across their backs, sitting on them. Short walks along the road. Loading. Introducing unusual objects like bunting, clothes lines etc. Needle training. Preparation for the dentist.

But what made the work with these two boys so special for me? I think it was the fact that I hand picked them. They had just the right mix of curiosity and innocence. They were unspoilt and ready to learn. And maybe I was at just the right stage of my life to work with them. Experienced enough and patient enough. Creative enough. Maybe slightly more fearful than I would have been when I was younger. Which made me more cautious and more careful. I felt like I did the best training I’ve ever done. And I don’t know if I’ll ever have that opportunity again. I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to take on more youngsters. I don’t think I have the same time these days as more of my time is dedicated to Suzie, Pony Club etc. And I ended up keeping Kaikoura and I just want to spend my time progressing his training at what I feel is the right pace for both of us.

Those videos were just a snapshot in time. I loved watching them back. I enjoyed the work with those boys so much, it was the culmination of twenty plus years of learning and training practice. And now they’re gone.

I guess they aren’t really gone for me, because I still have the memories and experiences. But at a time when my mum is gradually becoming more forgetful, I am very aware of how these things can slip away.

I’m saddened because I’ve lost the opportunity to share those experiences with my students and clients. But I can still talk about them. I can still teach people how to do those things that I’ve done. All is not lost, it’s still in me, and I need to remember that.

And I’ve gained one very wonderful thing from the whole experience that is worth more than anything else: my beautiful Kaikoura. I have been blessed to have owned and cared for some amazing horses over the years, all of whom have taught me valued lessons and stretched me as a trainer. But I think in Kaikoura I have found the most generous soul, so smart and so gentle, yet so strong. If I hadn’t decided to take those two young boys on to put together that filming, I would never have ended up keeping him. So all is absolutely not lost!

This has been a bit of an indulgent post, a way for me to work out my feelings over the past few weeks and to reconcile what I’ve lost. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here. It does have a slight purpose though. I am going to have to look at ways of creating new video footage for my lectures and teaching, to replace some of what has been lost. It won’t be the same. In fact it won’t replace it. But perhaps it’ll be better? If you and your horse would like to contribute in some way, get in touch with me!

Despooking for the Dressage horse

I was at a dressage show with my daughter not so long ago and saw quite a few horses spook at some stuff just outside the competition arena. Unsurprisingly this had an impact on their tests, happening as it did just as they were about to enter the arena.

Relaxation should always be the prerequisite to the scales of training, it is the foundation for everything else. Relaxation happens when you have a horse that trusts their rider, is calm in their environment, remains focused and undistracted and can enjoy the job in hand.

So having a better understanding of why your horse might be spooky in certain situations and learning some tools that you can use that will reduce that spookiness is always going to be of benefit to you as a rider.

As a Clinical Animal Behaviourist specialising in equines, I do a lot of rehabilitation training and am also very keen on proactive work with young horses to build confidence and reduce the chance of spooky behaviour developing and I’m always very glad of the opportunity to share my expertise in this area.

Luckily for you it’s the right time of year for spook busting! On Saturday 15th October from 1pm to 4pm I’ll be running a workshop at Claire Ewing’s dressage yard (CS Dressage) in Aghalee looking at how we can despook the dressage horse. There will be some theory to help you understand what’s going on, but the main focus will be on the practical work. We have a limited number of places for those who would like to bring their horse or pony along, and room for a few spectators too.

As well as attending the session, you will get access for six months after the workshop to an online course with videos and exercises for you to do at home, plus 20% discount voucher to use towards a one hour one to one session with me (online if you aren’t within my normal travel area).

Cost is £45 for you and your horse, or £25 if you are attending as a spectator (remember this price includes access to the online course after the workshop and the discount voucher for a one to one!).

Booking closes at 11pm on Wednesday 12th October 2022.

In order to book your spectator place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/despooking-for-the-dressage-horse-tickets-429941575827

If you wish to book on with your horse, please contact me via email spencehorsesense@gmail.com or phone/ WhatsApp to 07773 157428. Horse places are limited so get in touch soon to avoid disappointment! I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you

Helen 😊

http://www.spencehorsesense.com

Trailer loading workshop NI

It’s been a while since I last ran a workshop, what with the whole global pandemic etc! So I thought it was about time we got going again. I’m delighted to say that on Saturday 24th September 2022 I’ll be running a trailer loading workshop in Bryansford, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. The good news is we have a couple of horses at the venue to demo with, so no need to travel your problem loader/ problem traveller! You get to attend without the stress of bringing your horse, but you will learn all about common causes of loading and traveling problems and some of the most ethical yet also effective ways of addressing these issues. All attendees will be given access to an online resource with videos and handouts, available for six months after the course, as well as the opportunity to sign up for a reduced cost behavioural assessment and tailored training support from Dr Helen Spence, Clinical Equine Behaviourist (www.spencehorsesense.com).

There will be two sessions on the day, one in the morning running from 10am to 1pm and one in the afternoon from 2pm to 5pm. In the morning session we will cover the theory of loading problems along with common strategies for dealing with them and the pros and cons of each. We will also look at making an assessment of the individual horse and make a start on some practical training sessions with our demo equines. In the afternoon session we will continue with the practical training demos and then conclude with question and answer session.

You can sign up for either one or for both sessions and you will have access to the online course with the video footage from both sessions. Cost for one session is £25, cost for both together is £35. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. In order to book your spot, please contact me by call, text or WhatsApp message on 07773 157428 or by email to spencehorsesense@gmail.com

Deadline for booking is Wednesday 21st September.

Book tickets here https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/trailer-loading-1123699?utm-campaign=social&utm-content=creatorshare&utm-medium=discovery&utm-term=odclsxcollection&utm-source=cp&aff=escb

Are you interested in this but can’t make the workshop? Perhaps you’d like to host one of these at your home or yard? Or maybe you’d like to sign up for an online course? If so just give me a shout and we can make a plan!

Contact me by call, text or WhatsApp to 07773 157428 or email spencehorsesense@gmail.com

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Helen xo

Online courses available at http://www.helenspence.podia.com

CPD opportunity for equestrians: The APBC Virtual Equine Conference and more!

It’s been an unusual year hasn’t it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned all kinds of new skills: coaching via zoom, how to set up online courses…..

One of the bizarrely unexpected benefits that the pandemic has brought has been the proliferation of webinars, online conferences and so on. I don’t know about you, but I do find it handy being able to keep up my CPD (continuing professional development) requirements from the comfort of my home, through my laptop or phone. I particularly like it when the recordings are available online for a period of time after the event! I don’t miss the traveling, flights, car hire, having to organise horse care while I’m away and so on. But I do miss the opportunity to meet up with my colleagues in the flesh, to chat over coffee or lunch, or pre-conference dinners. But technology has come to the rescue there too! I don’t do Facebook, as you know, but I’ve found whatsapp groups great for keeping in touch with colleagues.

I was delighted when the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, of which I’m a Full member, invited me to speak at their virtual Equine Conference. I get to talk about a subject that is very close to my heart, the lessons that the field of Psychology can share with equestrian coaches, particularly in respect to learning theory, motivation and emotion.

Of course I’m not the only speaker! We have an excellent line-up. Anna Haines, regular magazine contributor, is speaking on the role of the behaviourist in the field of welfare. Loni Loftus will be presenting on her latest academic research looking at how we can measure positive aspects of equine welfare. And Roxane Kirton, RSPCA Senior Equine Clinician will be talking about pain and behaviour.

Each speaker will be available for a Q and A session after their presentation. And of course attendance at the conference is worth valuable CPD points for members of ABTC, IAABC and BHS APC’s.

The booking details can be found at https://www.apbc.org.uk/Events/virtual-equine-conference/

Act quickly though, book today: the conference takes place tomorrow!

Don’t worry if you’re going to be busy tomorrow, you will have access to the recordings for thirty days afterwards, to watch at your leisure.

There’s an extra bonus for those of you interested in further online education opportunities. I am awarding conference delegates with a coupon for 50% off my online courses, including my newest ‘Bitesize’ course on learning and emotions/ motivation due to launch on 21st December but available for enrollment from now. That’s a discount well worth the cost of the conference ticket!!

Thank you!

Helen

http://www.spencehorsesense.com

http://www.helenspence.podia.com