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What happens during an initial assessment?

posted 19 Jun 2012, 11:35 by Selina Serbin

So now you know Who Queens Ponies are; You guys are probably now wondering how things work and how I can help you. I thought I'd give you a brief explanation of how I can work with you and your horse in developing a physically, mentally and emotionally balanced training partnership.

       When an owner initially makes contact  requesting a visit , discussing your current situation gives me a rough idea of how healthy your relationship is with your horse. I can  identify approximately what stage in his life history is affecting progress right now and which area  needs addressing first for his welfare. Most importantly I need to discover wether trust in humans, however minute, may possibly pay a part in the horse's decision to display this behavior.

                                             Take Rebel for example. A 5 year old welsh section D:

When Initial contact was made, Julie's main concern was that Rebel was just as frustrated about their communication breakdown, as Julie was. The training plan was starting to go astray, and he was also starting to show signs of anger at their situation which was becoming dangerous behavior for handlers, as well as himself. On first visit, I introduced myself to Rebel, took a brief history of their time together, as well as knowledge of previous experiences. I then asked for Rebel to be walked up and down the yard for me, and then trotted. This allowed me to see two things: the horses movement; stiffness, tightness, strange gait, or obvious pain; and how the horse and owner behave together. I then checked every aspect of my concerns from the walk/trot up by feeling through the areas, assessing muscle, stance and reactions to touch. Rebel was then bridled and saddled by me, so I got the chance to check all tack fitting, especially the saddle, watch reactions to being tacked up - and decipher from him being uncomfortable and naughtiness.

     I then wanted to see Rebel on the lunge in the arena, to see his behavior and movement in a training environment. Requesting the horse works for me in an assessment situation varies from client to client, so is not always necessary.

By this point I was able to ascertain where Rebels biggest concerns lay, where he was in pain, which aspects of his behavior were changeable in him, and where to start with our plans forward from this point.

On the day of assessment, Rebel showed me a very confused young horse, who felt pressurised to perform, but the lack of understanding, fitness and strength just produced frustration and worry. He also displayed pain and this was one of the first things which needed addressing. For his discomfort an osteopath was required to treat him, but every client's situation is different, and I'm able to recommend a practitioner from many different fields.

I organized for the Osteopath to visit, and left Julie with some very basic handling exercises to be doing in my absence until he had been treated.

  So, Queens assessment'd think?! Nope - then I need to go away and devise a rough training schedule for how I believe the next few weeks should be covered. Again, all horses are individuals. In Rebels case a majority of his frustration stemmed from confidence, and confusion - and rather than spend time picking through which aspects were which, his behavior needed addressing in both his handling as well as ridden. In this case we would re- start the backing process. His groundwork, boundaries, manners, and trust all needed to be re-established.

Now the pain and pressure, has been removed, and ground rules set; Rebel enjoys Julies company so much more - their trust in each other building, & confidence growing, I can now set them tasks Julie would never dreamt of attempting with him before.

  "Through working with Selina I've realised that Rebels training is not just about all the technical stuff ie: his lunging and schooling - but it's about his mind-set, happiness and his attitude towards humans. That was a massive change for me! I had always been putting pressure on myself to 'work, work, work' him , and not actually to 'enjoy' my time with Rebel. I know now that having that two way connection between Rebel and I, has helped him become a much happier, less angry horse - everything else just seemed to fall in to place.....sometimes without me even realising! My understanding of Rebels confusion changed my behavior towards him, and as I became more confident with tasks Selina was setting us I was able to take leadership, teach him how to react correctly, and prevent him making any incorrect decisions. I trust him so much more now!"

If you wish for more from your relationship with your horse, have reached a 'block' in your training, or if your horse is showing unwanted behavior........feel free to contact me for a chat about how I can help you both get back on track.


Selina BHSAI  BSc(hons)

07852 236 236