Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best way to make contact?
Email is by far the most reliable way to make contact with me. I work long hours so it can be tricky to get hold of me on the phone. However, emails often seem to go into people's spam folders, so please make sure that our address and/or domain are added to your Safe Senders list. If you haven't received a reply within 7 days, do call or text. Between 6 and 9pm weekday evenings is the best time to catch me on the phone.
Please include a mobile or landline number in your email, so that we have another way of getting in touch.
2. What equipment/facilities do I need for my initial assessment session?
You really don't need much. All we need to work in, is a safely enclosed area on a good footing. A manege is ideal but a small paddock is fine too.
If you have four trotting poles (or something similar) to hand these are sometimes useful.
You will need your hard hat and gloves and some sensible footwear.
Your horse just needs his ordinary headcollar and a long lead rope (but I will bring these too). It is unusual in a first session to get as far as ridden work but you may want to have your tack to hand.3. Should I have my horse in and ready or would you like to see him/her in the field?
Ordinarily, I recommend having your horse in ready for your session to maximise the available time. However, if bringing your horse in is an area you would like to work on, it may be useful for me to see this.
Likewise, because of the nature of my work and the distances I travel my timings are a little approximate - if your horse is likely to get upset waiting around then by all means leave him or her out. I would much rather greet a happy relaxed horse than a stressed one. 4. Why are initial assessment sessions two hours long? This seems like a lot.
You will be amazed how quickly two hours will fly by! We won't be working with the horse solidly for this time, as there will be a certain amount of discussion - it's likely you will want to tell me about yourself and your horse and the issues you are facing, and I will need to explain the psychology behind the way I work. I feel this is really important as if I only teach tools and techniques you will need tools and techniques for every problem that arises, whereas if I can teach the psychology behind what we do it's likely you can become your own problem-solver. We may also need to look at tack and feed and so on. 5. Do you guarantee success in a single visit?
Absolutely not! An initial assessment session is just that – an assessment of the situation and an opportunity to create a plan to move forward. Sometimes before real ‘behaviour training’ can begin it may be necessary to make some other changes – for instance diet, management, saddle fitting, veterinary or physiotherapist intervention may be among the things that I feel need to be considered before we embark on training.
Some behaviours have developed over many years and are deeply ingrained and may take a period of time to gradually re-train. Modifying behaviour should never be about quick fixes and truthfully quick fixes are unlikely to be long term solutions.
All that said, there are times when one session is all it takes to make quite profound changes.6. What equipment/facilities do I need for my loading session?
We need a safely enclosed area where we can park the trailer or lorry, and have room to do some groundwork near the vehicle. Concrete or other hard surfaces are not suitable, and knee deep mud isn’t ideal! If you can park in a manege that is ideal, but otherwise a paddock (preferably with shortish grass!) is fine.
If you can have four trotting poles to hand, or something similar – old fencing rails for instance – these are useful.
If using a trailer this will need to be hitched up to a suitable towing vehicle, and ideally have the central partitions removed. You will need a haynet ready filled and some other food with two buckets. Chaff is the ideal food but sometimes something a little more interesting is necessary. The food is not used as a bribe but in order to create a pleasant association.
It can be useful to have a third person around to help with things like lifting ramps - as long as this is someone quiet who is happy to be given direction, that you feel comfortable to have around.
You and any helpers will need hard hats and sensible footwear. You may wish to have protective boots on your horse but I do not recommend travel boots. 7. Can my friends come and watch?
Yes, as long as you are happy for them to.8. Do I need to buy a Dually headcollar?
No. If we decide to use on one the day I will provide it. But you may find yourself wanting one!9. Do you share diesel costs between people in similar areas?
Yes, I try to make my driving time as efficient as possible and keep diesel costs down. Please help me with this by keeping your appointments.
I have standardized diesel costs by area. This means that you will pay the same amount each time regardless of how many people I see in your area. In the past I worked it out depending on numbers but this gets very complicated when people cancel. There will be a minimum number of people to make visits viable when I am travelling long distances.
If you are based in Southern Essex and I am over-nighting in Essex I will charge you diesel from a postcode in Leigh on Sea rather than my home address in Yoxford, Suffolk. 10. How do I make payment?
I ask that you pay the diesel share and a £10 deposit in advance by bank transfer - this is non-refundable but in exigent circumstances may be carried forward in the event of needing to postpone.
The remainder is payable by cash on the day.11. Why do I need to pay the diesel share and ten pound deposit in advance?
Wherever possible I try to share diesel costs between people in similar areas to keep costs down. However, in the past where people have had to cancel at short notice, unless I pass this additional cost on to other clients, I am left out of pocket. I travel long distances and as such it is sometimes only possible to visit two people in one day - when one cancels I have often found the other cancels too rather than pay all the diesel; leaving me with what would have been a full day's work suddenly a non-earning day.
Your diesel is therefore non-refundable if my day of training goes ahead for other people in your area. This works in your favour also, in the event that someone else cancels you won't find yourself with a bigger bill unexpectedly. It means 'shared diesel' visits can be guaranteed, where before they could not.
Whilst I fully understand that life often has better ideas for your well laid plans and recognise that cancellations/postponements are unavoidable at times, it is often impossible to re-book sessions at short notice. It can be very time consuming when one person cancels for me to then contact every other client, for that day, to see if they can move earlier or later to fill the gap in my day. Your ten pound deposit covers this administration time in the event that you need to cancel your session.12. What happens if the weather is bad?
I try to keep going regardless of the weather. The exception to this is where to continue would be unsafe. When working with loading problems, for example, high wind and heavy rain which make conditions slippery under foot are just not safe and I will not continue to the detriment of the horse. This is the case also when backing youngsters.
There are times that I can help with certain issues by talking things through, so it may be possible to do a 'theory session' in extreme bad weather – maybe over a cup of coffee in the tack room?!13. How long are follow up sessions?
Follow up sessions are usually an hour, but sometimes two hours may be more appropriate, and may well be more economical for you.