Autumn 2018Equine Behaviour in Mind - EBTA's new book - is now out. Details on our Publications page.
Summer 2017Ever since we started EBTA, we have been keen to be involved in academic research projects that are also relevant to horse owners. With this in mind we have recently designed, excuted and presented at the recent UFAW (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare) conference, a study into the extent to which horse owners are able to recognise fear and stress in horses. If you would like to see a copy of our poster, please click the following link: http://www.ebta.co.uk/EBTA-UFAW.pdf
Summer/Autumn 2016For the past three years most of the EBTA team, plus a few other behaviourists, have been running a Facebook-based Question and Answer group. We recently decided it would make more sense to incoporate it under the EBTA banner. So if you have any burning questions about equine behaviour - or if you would like to see the fascinating discussions that have ensued from other people's questions - then please feel free to join at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ProfessionalEquineBehaviourandWelfareAdvice/members/
Suzanne Rogers represented EBTA at World Horse Welfare's annual conference, whose theme was 'The Invisible Horse'. We were glad to see that lack of recognition of pain and stress in horses was mentioned as a key welfare challenge - our Ladder of Fear project aims to help address this. The talks were recorded and can be watched by following this link: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/conference
The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee have just released their report "Animal welfare in England: domestic pets", to which EBTA contributed. The focus of their section on horses was the lack of a working system for identification and passporting of horses and recognition that these contribute to the current horse crisis in the UK. The full report is available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvfru/117/117.pdf
Our most recent "big effort" has been dedicated to the Human Behaviour Change for Animal Welfare conference. It was a large international event organised (almost single-handedly) by EBTA team member Suzanne Rogers and presentations were given by EBTA's Catherine Bell, Debbie Busby and Jenni Nellist. The conference website is at http://www.hbcanimalwelfare.com/home.html and all the talks have been made freely available on the conference Youtube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEIBUgPge7eZmgr1toX4JOQ
We have welcomed new EBTA team members, Debbie Busby and Masie Wake, who have picked up some new projects, contributed to exisiting ones and given lots of constructive feedback on some much-needed website updates.
Suzanne, Sue and Catherine represented EBTA at The British Pet Show at Ardingly show ground. We were giving talks about equine behaviour in the context of shaping behaviours and recognising small signs of fear. This was interesting, given that there was a wide variety of animals at the show - dogs, horses, goats, poultry and reptiles - and we saw a variety of stress-induced behaviours. There is so much cross-species relevance in our presentations! As always, in accordance with EBTA values we did not bring horses with us for our demonstrations but used our trusty and perfectly habituated inflatable horses to help make our points...
We continue to contribute monthly "Ask the Expert" pieces to Horse and Rider magazine, plus Anna Saillet with her regular articles.
Spring 2016EBTA provided a written submission to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into the welfare of pets including cats, dogs and horses.
We highlighted the need for continued and increased enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in relation to equines. We drew particular attention to the common practices of stabling horses for long periods of time and keeping horses in social isolation - both failing one of the five freedoms, a framework commonly used for welfare assessment.
We also highlighted the need for educational outreach informing people of their responsibility to meet their animals' needs across all equestrian disciplines and sectors of society. Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act is needed to support educational efforts, assist in raising awareness and generate respect for the law.
Autumn/Winter 2015In partnership with RSPCA Lockwood, we hosted an evening of talks and demonstrations, raising money for the horse and donkeys of Lockwood as well as helping local horse owners develop their understanding of equine needs. One of the problems with demonstrations is balancing the need for education with the ethical considerations of placing a horse in a compromised situation. At EBTA we do everything we can to keep things stress-free for the horse - give the demo at the horse's home yard, simulate the training and shaping of a known behaviour rather than attempting to teach something new/scary in a demo setting and allow the horse as much time as (s)he needs before doing anything.
If you run a charity and would be interested in hosting an EBTA evening to benefit your equine residents and human adopters then please get in touch...
We have also been asked to become regular contributors to the "Ask the Expert" section of Horse and Rider Magazine. This is a great way of bringing equine behaviour to a much wider audience. This is in addition to EBTA behaviourist, Anna Saillet, writing regular articles for the magazine.
We have also been out and about, representing EBTA at different gatherings and flying the flag for equine welfare. Catherine joined a Q+A panel at Surrey Vet school, contributing to an evening about pain and restraining techniques (in a veterinary context). Suzanne, Jenni and Emma attended a one-day equine behaviour seminar hosted by APBC and CEVA that aimed to encourage communication between people working in the equine behaviour sector to discuss how to drive positive changes for welfare.
Summer 2015We have been doing more "behind the scenes" work, trying to make sure EBTA is more than just a website. We are now aiming to increase our visibility at events and also by responding and engaging more with the media and other organisations.
Recently three EBTA representatives in Surrey (Suzanne, Kirstin and Sue) gave a demonstration on equine vision and how it relates to performance at an event hosted by Priory Vets. This was very well received and we didn't injure anyone when they were asked to go over a jump with glasses modified to represent equine vision!
In 2014 EBTA representatives Suzanne and Catherine joined forces with Ben Hart and presented a 'Thinking Horsemanship' weekend in Norfolk. Following the success of that event we recently ran a similar weekend in Surrey. We received great feedback from brilliantly "thinking" participants and we all enjoyed the opportunity to learn from the lovely horses who demonstrated all the theory. We're planning additional events in other parts of the country (since travelling is so stressful for horses, we move to where the horses live, rather than the other way round) so watch this space.
Our other big commitment at the moment is participation in the "A Bit More Choice" campaign to promote the right of the rider to choose whether to ride bitted or bit-less in equestrian competitions.
We have also been working with the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) to update the behaviour section their website. If you would like to take advantage of this service for your own organisation then please get in touch.
Winter 2014/2015We've had a bit of a revamp of the website and so it should now be much easier to find our "Projects" section. This is where we tell you about the ongoing work we are doing so it is always "in progress"....
Summer/Autumn 2014Not sure where the time has gone but it's been a while since we updated the News, ooops, sorry...
We've had a number of Facebook campaigns running, drawing attention to the sleep needs of horses, ideas for meeting their needs for turn-out and, where this is not possible, enrichment. We also had a detailed look at the needs of foals and their parents.
This summer also saw the first "Thinking Horse weekend" in which EBTA founder members Suzanne Rogers and Catherine Bell joined forces with Ben Hart for a weekend in Norfolk. We were teaching owners about the behavioural needs of horses, how this translates into their handling and how we may need to look at our own behaviour and motivation if we are to be both successful and non-exploitative in our horse-human relationships. We hope this will be the first of more such events so will keep you posted about the next one (Surrey, May 2015 - see http://www.learnngaboutanimals.co.uk )
Spring 2014With the long-awaited arrival of spring after a wet winter we were very relieved to see horses out in the fields again, enjoying their increased freedom. But we also are only too aware of the difficulties many owners face with getting enough turn-out time for their horses, with unhelpful livery yards, laminintis, insufficient grass/space and a whole host of other problems. With this in mind we have had a week's turnout campaign on Facebook, giving ideas for how you can better meet the needs of horses, despite challenging conditions. If you missed it and/or are not on Facebook then don't worry, we shall be turning the campaign into a page for the EBTA website very soon.
The key changes to the website recently feature the natural horsemanship event, Horseman's Calling. EBTA is opposed to turning training processes into timed, competitive events and do not feel that the needs of the horses are met in such a compromised learning environment. We have uploaded a new policy document in EBTA's View and put some new articles with reactions to the event on the Articles page.
Finally we'd be interested to have your reactions to this "Open Letter to the British Horse Society" by horse owner and parrot behaviourist, Greg Glendall. How can we better incorporate scientific knowledge of ethology and learning theory, plus our understanding of how we can implement these ethically, into a long-standing traditional organisation?
Winter 2013-2014This winter we have been very conscious that the quarterly newsletter we promised hasn't actually materialised yet. There is so much to do and EBTA is such a small team. But we are now very close to mailing the first edition to everyone who has signed up. If you're not yet on our mailing list, please join via our "Contact Us" page. Our newsletter is the means by which we tell you what we've been doing recently and when there is new content added to the website. The new material we are about to add includes updates to our projects and a collection of new articles. In particular we have a series of videos to add to the Ladder of Fear project, highlighting the tiny signs that horses use to display their initial fear of situations. Can you afford not to watch them and let those tiny signs become bigger signs?
Summer 2013EBTA's main aim this summer has been to create and raise our online profile so that you all know we exist. We have started a Facebook page and update it regularly with information about EBTA's activities, pointers to key sections of our website and recommended books. If you are a Facebook user, please join us!
In particular we have tried to highlight the importance of weaning foals in an ethical way, keeping the welfare of both mare and foal as a top priority. Part of this campaign included attempts to petition the BBC program, "Countryfile", in the hope that Adam will wean his foals according to published research, rather than standard convention. Time will tell whether he has listened to us. Even if he does not, our campaign has increased awareness of these issues and we hope that more and more foals will have a better start to life.
Spring 2013After a long time in the planning stages, the EBTA website finally went live! That's not to say that nothing else has been happening during that time. We have been writing "EBTA's View", a series of policy documents where we describe our position on various controversial, or not-so controversial issues of the equine world. We want to make it clear where our ethics lie and what we represent. We hope it will also stimulate discussion and encourage people to think about their own position on these issues. we have also started our first two projects.
We have also started our first two projects - "The Ladder of Fear" is a practical demonstration of the tiny signs that a horse may be more fearful than is often perceived by his handler. We hope to build a large video library and ultimately incorporate physiological data (are there any academics and students out there who would like to be involved in the data collection and analysis?). Secondly we have started to complile a database of research about donkeys and mules, members of the equine family who are so often misunderstood and neglected. If you are an academic working with donkeys and/or mules and would like your work to reach a public audience then we would love to hear from you. As we develop these projects further, and begin new projects, we will keep you updated of our progress. We are always keen to hear from anyone with contributions to current projects or ideas for new ones......
In the meantime, some links to articles and research which have caught our eye recently......
Obsoletely Fabulous Recent blog posting by Epona.TV
Rethink urged of Monty Roberts' Training Methods Article from horsetalk.co.nz summarising some recent research
'Limited Resource Test' to Measure Equine Social Hierarchies Article from thehorse.com summarising some recent research
The Gene that Gates Horse Gaits Article from The Journal of Experimental Biology
Zebra Affairs - Flies and Stripes Recent blog posting from Equilibregaia.com