Horse Behaviour Problems
“I view it like this; the horse has created a strong, instinctive pathway in his mind that keeps him safe whenever he feels threatened. As a trainer, I need to develop a new neurological pathway that also keeps him safe but becomes stronger than the old one.” – Jason Webb
Jason has a remarkable ability to re-educate the most dangerous or unhandled horses and regularly receives referrals of from vets, farriers, training yards, instructors and professional riders including Olympians of horses with severe behaviour problems. He is often seen as a ‘last chance’ for horses that are destined for euthanasia but is also used extensively for horses with milder issues that impact on their rider’s enjoyment or competition success. The horse behaviour problems and ridden problems we handle is ever expanding but include; Aggression, Leading, Loading, Foot handling, Mounting, Napping, Rearing, Bucking, Bolting, Spooking, Refusals, General Manners, Traffic Shy, Excitability at Competitions, Kicking, Control Issues, Catching, Tying-up
We provide the following services for horses with Horse Behaviour or ridden problems:
- Retraining at Risebridge Farm; the duration of your horse’s stay will depend on the nature and severity of the issue.
- A consultation where Jason can give advice and recommendations.
- Private lessons at your place or ours.
- Loading training
Over the years, Jason has developed some unique solutions to various horse behaviour problems that have been tried and tested to ‘reprogram’ the horse’s reactions to certain situations. He always starts with his groundwork program, gaining respect and control of the horse on the ground and laying the foundations for work under saddle. Once the horse has been retrained, Jason firmly believes that it is equally important to educate and equip the handler and rider with the relevant knowledge and skills, which is why he has developed Your Horsemanship to allow them to continue to progress with their horses at home.
If you have any questions about how we can help you and your horse, please Contact Us
We firmly believe in ‘honesty is the best policy’ and if we don’t feel that horse and rider are suited, or if the horse is going to be too dangerous, we will advise accordingly. We are able to provide references and testimonials from clients with horses that have similar problems to yours so you can rest assured that your horse in the right hands.
From ‘virtually unrideable’ to an ‘absolute pleasure – Lindt and Bear – two of our many success stories!
Lindt is a beautifully bred dressage horse who had started his competitive career before becoming “virtually unrideable and dangerous” at a professional dressage yard, bucking, rearing and rushing whenever he got worried. After six months out of work, Jason was seen as his last chance.
Jason explains, “Lindt was a highly sensitive horse – very claustrophobic and he couldn’t deal with pressure well, which led to him displaying horse behaviours such as rearing, bucking and bolting. I spent a lot of time desensitising him and getting him to work without bit contact. Once he had softened and relaxed into his work, I was able to ask him to accept light contact and getting him to deal with pressure situations in a calm and controlled manner”. After an eight week stay, Lindt’s owner and trainer were able to come and ride him and take him home, confident that they would be able to continue his dressage training. We are delighted to hear that Lindt is back competing successfully in Affiliated Dressage, qualifying for the Regional Championships and making his debut in Prix St. Georges!
Katie Jaye-Lipton, Lindt’s owner explains “We were really losing all hope and cannot thank Jason and his staff more for giving us our horse back. I never, in a million years thought we would make it through and get to this point with him. I have been recommending Jason to everyone with “problem” horses! The transformation in Lindt is amazing, he continues to progress in leaps and bounds and we are very excited about his future!”
Bear was rescued by his owner, Vicky, but struggled to gain his trust. Becoming increasingly dangerous to handle and ride, she decided to send him to us.
Horse Starting Programme
With over twenty years experience and having started over 1000 horses, Jason’s main love is starting young horses and ponies and giving them the best start to their ridden careers. Much in demand by studs, professional and amateur riders alike, Jason provides exceptional results in a short space of time.
Whichever term you use, be it starting, colt starting, breaking in or horse breaking, Jason’s horse training program allows each horse to be treated as an individual at the same time as ensuring horse and rider have the best possible chance of success in their chosen discipline, be it Grand Prix dressage, eventing racing or hacking.
Jason’s process for starting young horses (or breaking in) has evolved over the many years that he has worked with horses, both young and mature. Sessions of groundwork are seen as the preparation to ensure a smooth transition to the horse’s ridden work. The first rides are undertaken in the safe environment of a round pen before being taken into the arena where “forward” and “direction” are key. Once the horse is settled and confident, longer rides alone and in company around the farm, woodlands and lanes become the next stage of the process. After four weeks, we highly recommend a break of at least two weeks for the horse to allow him to process the learning he has undergone and refresh him for the consolidation and hand over phase of the starting, or horse breaking in process.
By the end of the six weeks we aim to produce horses that are safe and confident with the foundations in place for a successful ridden career in any given discipline, and that:
- Are quiet and well mannered to handle, tie up, lead, load
- Stand still to mount and unmount
- Walk, trot, canter in the arena looking to develop suppleness, balance and rhythm
- Hack alone and in company in open fields, woodlands and lanes (exposed to traffic)
- Canter through open fields
- Open and close gates
- Jump small natural obstacles and show jumps
- Are desensitised to various objects being carried by the rider
If you have any questions about how we can help you and your horse, please Contact Us
Horse ‘Breaking’ vs ‘Starting’
Jason uses the term “starting horses” as he feels this is the best way to describe the process of giving horses the correct foundations on the ground and the preparation for riding. Commonly used terms such as horse breaking, breaking-in and backing tend to conjure up an image of the human forcing the horse to cooperate rather than working with the horse and his natural behaviours in order to teach him acceptance of a rider.
Retraining of Racehorses
Racehorses – Starting, Pre-Training, Retraining
With his father operating a small scale Thoroughbred breeding operation in Australia, Jason learnt the art of starting and pre-training racehorses from an early age, as well as retraining the not-so-quick ones!
Starting and Pre-Training
“We first used Jason Webb to start a very tricky youngster; I can highly recommended for working with young racehorses.” -Jim Boyle Racing
Here at Risebridge Farm, Jason handles and starts racehorses in a similar way to other horses, whilst acknowledging the differences in the way they will be ridden and managed in their racing career. With the combination of Jason’s methods and the excellent facilities and care, Jason not only produces horses that are ready to go into training, but even colts and the trickiest of youngsters turn out easy to handle and to retrain should their career in racing fail.
“Twister came to Jason as an ex-race horse who had been left at grass for 3 years and needed to be retrained as a hacking horse. Jason worked with both Twister and myself giving us the techniques and tools to deal with Twisters quirks.”
With little money to spend on ‘made’ horses, Jason’s teenage years were spent retraining their homebred racehorses for showjumping, eventing, polo, polocrosse, campdrafting (working cows) and working horses, with some even going on to win major accolades. Here in the UK, he has found there is a great demand for retraining racehorses and even though not all of them will go on to compete at a high level, Jason believes they all deserve a second career and that with the right rider can go on to lead useful lives. Of the ex-racehorses that have come through the yard, some have gone on to compete successfully in affiliated dressage and eventing, whilst others have found their forte on the polo or polocrosse field. Some like this endurance horse, just needed some work on a specific area in order to go on to success.
“I had a horse straight out of racing to compete in Endurance riding but he was difficult with his hind feet and did not tie up, which led to elimination at Vet Checks. After Jason had done his magic we never had any further trouble with this horse, who went on to compete successfully.” Bryony Dickens, Endurance Rider
Jason also believes that many ex-racehorses are misunderstood and labeled as “highly strung” and “difficult” when they just need some time and understanding to make the adjustment to life outside of racing. The issues people have with their ex-racers are not necessarily related to their previous careers and once the issues have been solved, the majority turn out to be highly reliable and versatile mounts.
Working with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR)
“Jason has a wealth of knowledge that he departs in a calm and understandable manner. He can offer people the tools to make riding and handling their horse an enjoyable experience and this helps to build/restore confidence. Even if you are very experienced Jason has tips and insight to offer” -Pippa Boyle, ROR South East
Jason regularly works for Retraining of Racehorses, conducting demonstrations and clinics for the organization throughout the South East. Retraining of Racehorses is British Horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of horses that have retired from racing. Amongst other roles, it raises funds from within the Racing Industry to help support the charitable retraining and rehoming of former racehorses, helps provide facilities for the care, retraining and rehoming of former racehorses, promotes the adaptability of racehorses to other equestrian activities and runs a well established programme of competition sponsorship and clinics to educate and improve riders handling former racehorses. The ultimate goal is to achieve a balance between the number of horses leaving Racing and the number of enthusiastic, and suitable, new homes.
Having a horse that is difficult to load is a very common and frustrating problem! Jason travels out to those having these problems on a weekly basis and over the years have solved a wide range of loading and travelling issues detailed below. Please also look at the loading section in the Your Horsemanship online training programme where you can join up to gain access to hundreds of online lessons on all aspects of horsemanship, including how to tackle loading issues.
Refusal to load. This is generally caused either by the horse not understanding what is asked of it or because the horse has had a bad experience and does not want to repeat it. They work out how to avoid the situation usually by either by rearing, planting or bolting when asked to go onto a ramp and a habit is then formed.
“Bad Travellers”. Horses are naturally claustrophobic animals and those that that are deemed “bad travellers” tend to panic and start to scramble as they lose their balance and footing. Some react in a different way and plant themselves against the sides or the rear of the trailer. These horses are likely to be highly anxious on arrival at an event and will often lead to a refusal to load.
Unloading. It is not just loading that can be a problem. With young or inexperienced horses it is often the unloading that can cause issues and has the potential to lead to very dangerous situation for both horse and handler as the horse suddenly decides to leap or rush out of the horsebox or trailer.
Trauma. Some horses that Jason has dealt with have suffered severe physical and mental trauma through being in a horsebox or trailer that has been involved in a traffic accident. These horses often need a program or rehabilitation in order for them to be comfortable in the horsebox or trailer again.
The downright unusual! Jason is often seen as a last resort to those facing unusual problems with their horse they can’t solve. A case in point was Alison Scott’s showjumper whose performance was being affected by his refusal to urinate in the horsebox on long journeys. Jason asked her to leave dirty bedding from his stable in his stall in the horsebox and take out a partition, which solved the problem!
Jason explains, “It goes back to thinking of how the horse behaves in his natural environment. A lot of horses, particularly stallions, or ‘colty’ geldings, like to urinate on the same corner of the stable, or the same patch of grass in the field. By leaving bedding that has his distinctive smell on it reassured him, even if to our human eyes and nose it was a bit disgusting! Also, by opening up the partition, he could move his legs apart to give him stability. This is also the first thing I recommend to people who have horses that travel badly.”
Horse Loading Training Techniques
Jason’s loading techniques focus on developing a strong “forward” cue and never forcing a horse onto a trailer or horsebox. The preliminary loading training work is done on the ground away from the vehicle and the horse will only be presented to the ramp once he fully understands the forward cue and reacts to it quickly and with no resistance.
When the horse is taken towards the ramp, Jason will ask for a forward cue and will be looking for the horse to show curiosity by lowering his head and sniffing at the ramp rather than looking at his surroundings and looking for a way out. Some horses will only take a few minutes to be happily walking on and off the horsebox, whereas others may take an hour or two. Whichever the case, it is the horse’s choice to respond correctly to the forward cue and walk up the ramp.
Once the horse is willing to load on cue, Jason will spend time with the handler teaching them the same techniques. They will only consider the job well done when the handler is confident in the horse’s acceptance of being loaded.
Training Better Horse Riders
Jason’s skill and patience with horses translates into his communication with horse riders and handlers of all levels and abilities to give them the tools and understanding to develop successful partnerships with their horses.
His private lessons, clinics and camps conducted at “On the Yard” and “On the Road” complement his online training program, Your Horsemanship, which enables riders and handlers to continue their progress at home.
Rider Training Services
- Starting Course
- Consultations and Private Lessons
Jason has also developed his online training website Your Horsemanship where you can access horsemanship training in both ground and ridden work as well as overcoming problems, see: Your Horsemanship Online.
Horsemanship Training Clinics
Jason conducts a range of horsemanship clinics that are closely linked to his online horse training program, Your Horsemanship, allowing participants to continue their progress at home.
All of the horsemanship training clinics aim to give participants:
- The foundations to enable you to achieve your aspirations in your given equestrian discipline
- Confidence and control on the ground and when ridden
- A balanced and respectful relationship between you and your horse
- Practical solutions to common problems
- An understanding of how horses and humans interact successfully
- Progression in a ‘building block’ training pathway that can be continued through the Your Horsemanship online training program
We currently offer the following “Your Horsemanship Clinics” on a monthly basis at Risebridge Farm and we are happy to arrange them at your yard too! Members of Your Horsemanship also receive a 10% discount on Your Horsemanship events run by Your Horsemanship, such as lessons, clinics and camps!
Trust and Respect Groundwork Clinic
£45pp, 1.5 hour group lesson (maximum five horses). This horsemanship clinic is designed to help owners with nervous horses or those who have difficulties with gaining their horse’s respect.
Ridden Confidence Clinic
£45pp, 1.5 hour group lesson (maximum five horses). This training clinic is designed to give confidence to both horse and rider and to give the tools to the rider in order to control their horse in all situations and environments.
The Afternoon Surgery
£65pp private lesson with Jason Webb covering any groundwork or ridden areas (normal private lesson price £80) Please note if you are a Your Horsemanship Premium Member you will get at £10 discount.
You may also be interested in checking out our other learning options of Your Horsemanship Foundation Courses and Your Horsemanship Camps. Jason can tailor all of his horsemanship clinics, rider courses, horse camps and horse training demonstrations to off-site venues including private yards, livery yards, Riding Clubs, Pony Clubs, Colleges and Equestrian Centres. Jason is available for a half day for £250 + travel (40p/mile) or a full day for £500 + travel (40p/mile).
If you have any questions about our training clinics, please get more details on the contact us page, or use the form below: