Horse Sitting & Mobile Livery/Groom Services

Equi-libre Horses now offers affordable Horse Sitting & Mobile Livery/Groom Services

Do you keep your horses at home?

Would you love to attend that wedding, visit friends for the weekend or even go on holiday? Now you can – with the peace of mind of knowing that your horses will be cared for as if you were doing them!

Jo Hughes of Equi-libre Horses has now added this first class, individually tailored service to her portfolio in and around both Newark and Lincoln.

For further information, to enquire or chat to Jo, please email jo@equi-libre.co.uk or call 07968 061152 to arrange a free initial meeting.

Horse Sitting

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Jo Hughes interviewed ahead of the Equine Clicker Conference

Ahead of speaking at the upcoming Equine Clicker Conference, Helen Gilbertson interviewed Jo Hughes about what she is going to share with us at the conference.

Find out how Jo began Clicker Training and who really shouldn’t miss her talk at the Equine Clicker Conference

With a strong BHS back ground and an interest in Classical riding, what got you started with Clicker Training and why did you decide to take this route?

Throughout my BHS training and classical tuition, I always loved that feeling of being at one with one’s horse. Those times of fluidity where all resistances between you just melted away, the horse became so balanced underneath you and you literally floated across the arena in perfect harmony together. I was always drawn to the more sensitive horses and I seemed to be able to connect with them on a level which allowed that softness and communication to develop. It was always clear that the better my feel and timing, the more balanced, soft and light I could be, the more harmonious the two of us would become.

It was my current horse who encouraged me to look for more positive and effective ways to communicate with horses. I bought her as a 6 year old with plans to compete in affiliated dressage and eventing, but she had other lessons to teach me! It was as a result of my searching for deeper understandings of equine behaviour that I came across Clicker Training.

I have always used food rewards within my training, but as I began to understand more about the benefits of an event marker signal (the clicker), the clarity of communication it provides the animal with and the positive way in which they learn, I became completely hooked! It is such a powerfully gentle and kind way of training animals that produces an incredible partnership based on trust and love. It also gives us the tools to be able to change our horses emotions from fear and anxiety to joy and happiness.

Because it is not a horsemanship method, but instead based on scientific principles, it can be used to train our horses just about anything. My passion has always been classical riding and the gymnastic development of the horse towards lightness. Training with a clicker allows us another means of getting to that goal whilst at the same time improving our feel and timing plus it gives us means of communicating so precisely with our horses in a way that they find genuinely pleasurable and rewarding.

It’s often the case that our horses lead us to Clicker Training. After discovering it where are you with your mare now?

Well, I don’t want to give too much away ahead of my talk at the conference…but we have come an incredibly long way! It’s been an amazing journey and one which will inevitably continue to evolve from here as we both continue to learn and grow.

She had suffered much stress and fear as a result of her previous training and so much of my training with the clicker over the years has focussed on changing those emotions for her. We now do a lot of groundwork, which we both enjoy, improving her balance through transitions and movements such as shoulder in, renvers and travers, all taught with the clicker and positive reinforcement. I am currently training her in half pass on the ground.

We are also having a lot of fun riding bridle-less too, using the clicker to train subtle body posture and weight cues (aids) as our mutual communication. She certainly is a completely different horse nowadays – happy, confident, expressive, calm, responsive, soft, light, trusting and a joy to be around.

Sounds like yet another fab talk, its going to be seriously hard for our delegates to chose which stream they want to be in, who do you think will benefit most from listening to you?

I hope the delegates enjoy it Helen. There are some great topics being covered, I am really looking forward to it myself!

It was a difficult task to pick a topic for my talk! There were so many wonderful areas I wanted to discuss so that I could share my passions with the audience.

I have decided to focus on “An alternative journey to classical lightness” because I am hoping to inspire all horse owners to explore clicker training as a means of training them and their horses in classical riding & equitation. Sadly, clicker training is still often associated within the horse industry with trick training and as such many riders still take exception to the idea that clicker training really is a legitimate means of training horses for performance (whatever the discipline).

In addition, many horse owners will have heard the term classical riding and/or equitation before, but how many actually know it’s true meaning, what it stands for and what separates it from any other form of riding/training out there?! As such, I have decided to take the audience on a journey through time, looking at the past, the present and into the future. In doing so, I hope to be answering some of these questions as well as uncovering some myths along the way!

I guess therefore, that my talk is for everyone, no matter what their level of horsemanship or riding experience! For anyone who would love to be able to gymnastically strengthen their horses, help them to correctly balance, communicate with them via a mutually understood language not based on compulsion or coercion and ultimately to preserve and prolong their soundness.

I’m sure we will all enjoy Jo’s talk as much as I enjoyed talking to Jo! I for one can’t wait to hear how she has applied the clicker to classical riding & equitation, I’m sure you can’t either.

Jo Hughes to present at the first ever Equine Clicker Conference!

Jo Hughes is presenting at

probably the FIRST EVER Equine Clicker Conference!

23rd September 2012

Richmond Equestrian Centre

North Yorkshire

The most experienced group of equine clicker training instructors brought together in one place!

Jo Hughes is a BHSAI (Reg’d) Instructor, a Horse Agility Accredited Trainer (HAAT), a classical equitation and equine clicker trainer and coach.

Jo has trained her horses using the principles of classical equitation for many years and began using reward reinforcement within her training over 5 years ago. She trains with many classical trainers and behaviourists and uses the practical application of behavioural science to deliver safe and ethical training to both equines and humans.

Jo’s belief is that good horsemanship is both an art and a science and she is passionate about combining the age-old wisdom handed down by the classical dressage masters with more recent research in the science of equine psychology.”

Positively teaching you and your horse the classical art of equitation through understanding the science of learning!

Jo Hughes to host talk and clinic for British Horse Society

Equi-libre Horses is delighted to have been asked by the British Horse Society (BHS) to host an introductory talk on Clicker Training followed by a one day clinic.

Interactive Talk

The horse-less, interactive talk will be held at Shuttleworth College Equine Unit in Bedfordshire on 26th June 7.30 – 9pm (http://www.shuttleworth.ac.uk/our_courses/equine.aspx). This is an opportunity to find out more about the principles of clicker training. For further information and bookings, please call Mandy on 07748 185828 or Ann on 01234 709960

Clinic

There is also a full day clinic, to be held at Manor Barn, Keysoe on Saturday 21st July. As a follow on to the talk, this will provide an opportunity to see the practical side of the principles of clicker training. This is limited to 5 horses with spectator places also available. For further information and bookings, please call Ann on 01234 709960

Learning to Trust our Instincts

Do you trust what your instincts are telling you?

Balance That Clicks!

Balance That Clicks!

I was tidying up my emails recently, and I came across an email I wrote quite some time ago now.

I thought I would share it because I know how tough it can be to trust our instincts and our inner feelings. It really does take a great deal of inner confidence to achieve, especially when we are often ostracised for doing so. Maybe it will be helpful to others, to know you are not alone.

“Thanks for your reply, its so nice to know that I am not alone in my beliefs of how much horses can teach you about yourself and how to be true to oneself and others around you.

I have also been on the most amazing journey with my mare. She had been badly treated (although not as badly as some). She still trusted humans, but knew they could inflict pain very easily. Her natural reaction was to panic and she was in a pre-flight state the whole time. I of course had no idea of any of this – though nothing was working with her. I loved her to bits and she clearly wanted to trust me, but I was just another one of those humans who was still inflicting pain on her without really thinking about it.

Dancer in the school

I used to have lessons with a dressage instructor, and one day I finished a lesson nearly in tears, even though the audience was ooh-ing and ah-ing, quite blown away by how well my mare was going. Despite this, all I could do was feel terrible and so sad. I just did not feel right in my heart. I actually felt quite sick after every lesson. I was taking from my horse. She was clearly unhappy and had a niggling back problem which I knew was a big sign of something being very wrong. She was SO unhappy in her left canter, she would pin her ears and pull her nose right back when I asked and buck. The instructor’s voice still rings in my ears – “use more rein, be stronger with your leg – she is simply being naughty – it will get better the more you practice it.”

It hadn’t got any better at all up to this point, in fact I felt something was seriously wrong.  I went home and decided I was going to listen to my heart and my horse and try to understand what she was trying so valiantly trying to tell me. I have made it my mission ever since to learn all I can about how a horse should move correctly and how a rider can ride softly and gently to create lightness in both themselves and their horse to produce harmony which hurts neither.

I now ride bitless, treeless and my mare is also shoeless. They are such sensitive creatures if we allow them to be, they can learn to respond to the lightest of light aids.

But as you too have experienced, it’s not about just the horses. My relationships in all areas of life have totally changed – I can fully understand another’s perspective even if I don’t agree with it myself. I never really had much patience as a youngster but I now seem to have never ending amounts! I look for the good in everything and recognise the smallest try, no matter how tiny it may be. As a result, I generally feel pretty positive about everything.”

At the time of writing the email presented here, I had come across a trainer who I believed could help Dancer and I. I had contacted him via email and explained, at length, about what I was looking for, and my belief that it was possible to achieve lightness, harmony, balance and collection bitless and without coercion or force. I was hoping that due to his history and experience, he would be able to help me.

I didn’t receive a reply and he never returned my phone calls. I then saw him at a competition a few weeks later and asked him if he had received my email and calls. He seemed a little uncomfortable, couldn’t remember whether he had got my email and then asked where my yard was. It was a very awkward conversation which left me confused and rather upset. 

A few days later, I began to understand why he had behaved in such a way towards me. It turned out he had received my emails and calls and also knew exactly where my yard was…he had been there just a couple of weeks before to teach someone else! I can only assume that for whatever reason he had decided that he didn’t want to work with us.

“Sadly many people in the world have not learnt how to free themselves from the weight of their egos or to listen to their own inner voice and let it guide them. They fear change.

I love the following quote and I try to keep it in mind especially in the face of adversity: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

My mare now truly trusts me and I feel so privileged it’s untrue. She still has memories and areas which she finds hard; as you say they don’t forget their past – but the trust they can form with us helps them to deal with those memories… and when this trust is fostered between you both over time, these are the horses who make living in this hard world one of the most amazing experiences one could dare dream possible.

I have learnt so much from her but only because I had the confidence to dare to stop, take a breath and truly listen to what she was trying to say. She has rewarded me a million times over since!

It really is about listening to your gut feel, your heart, your soul… isn’t it!?

I truly believe that if something feels right, it is – things are meant to happen for a reason, mostly one we have no clue about at the time. However, if it’s right it will present itself, or something inside you will guide you to it, if you can learn to listen to the ‘pearl of light’ within you.

We all have a pearl of goodness/light inside each and every one of us. Most people just don’t know its there, they have never learnt to (or allowed themselves to) listen to it deep in the depths of their souls. You have to learn to be able to be very quiet in order to be able to hear it – but most of all you have to listen.

You and I have found our pearl of goodness and let it guide us. This is how you can offer so much to your gorgeous horses – they are simply following this light. They feel safe and know they can trust you.

It’s the most wonderful thing in the entire world, and I wouldn’t change it for anything!!”

Thank you so much to the recipient of this email! Our conversations were a fundamental catalyst for so much of what has happened since.

Jo Hughes

Horse Agility Accredited Trainer (HAAT)

Equi-libre Horses is delighted to announce that Jo Hughes has received her full accreditation as a Horse Agility Trainer (HAAT)

As such, Jo is now available to teach and train Horse Agility as well as run and judge competitions.

Jo can bring her Horse Agility course to your yard for a training and competition day. Horses and handlers do not need to have any prior experience with Horse Agility to take part, just come along for a day full of fun, laughter and trust building with your horse.

Jo can also bring one or two of her obstacles for private lessons. Please get in touch if this is of interest.

What is Horse Agility?

Horse Agility is a discipline and internationally competitive sport in which horse and handler, both on foot, navigate a course of obstacles while focusing on clear communication and positive horsemanship.

All horses and ponies can join in Horse Agility whether they are ridden or not in other competitions, they just need to be in good physical condition.

Everyone can join in – children and adults of all ages, fitness levels and ability, the people do the training, the horse does most of the energetic bit!

The Horse Agility Club’s primary aim is to bring together people who have been practicing horse agility worldwide and support those who would like to become part of a competitive arm to develop it as a well organized, structured and standardized sport.

The Club now has over 400 members in  the UK alone with overseas membership growing, 40 registered instructors and over 450 horses registered as Agility Horses.

Horse Agility is not just about playing with horses, it strengthens the bond between horse and handler without the use of gadgets or quick fixes. The eventual aim of Horse Agility is for the horse to run completely free of any restraint, directed round a course of obstacles by the handler.

For more information on Horse Agility in Great Britain, click here 

To see Jo’s Horse Agility Portfolio, click here

For more information email Jo on jo@equi-libre.co.uk

Equi-libre Horses Coaching

Equi-libre Horses philosophy is to empower both horses and their owners with knowledge so they can become ethical and effective trainers themselves. We want to share what we have learnt in order to help others and their horses achieve a kinder, healthier and happier means of working together.

Clicker Training

Clicker training taps into Behavioural Science and allows understanding of working ‘with’ rather than ‘against’ how we and our animals learn. Combining this ‘science’ with classical dressage principles of balance and lightness, produces some of the most divine, dynamic movement I have ever seen in a horse.

This understanding allows the communications between horses and humans to reach phenomenal levels. Ultimately, clicker training establishes and improves the relationships between owners and their much loved animals through develeloping mutual trust and friendship at its core.

Jo Hughes – Experience and Continued Professional Development

Jo has a degree in Psychology and has been a qualified BHS Instructor for over 10 years. She is committed to continuous research and learning through hands-on training with other professionals, reading and, of course, learning from the horses themselves. Jo’s Continued Professional Development (CPD) is of paramount importance. Alongside attendance at Alexandra Kurland horse training clinics in the UK each year and ongoing training with an array of other classical trainers and equine behaviour specialists, Jo also undertakes CPD with the BHS on a regular basis.

Jo has dedicated her life to the exploration and understanding of many different styles of equitation and horsemanship methods. Her journey has led her down numerous paths in search of the truest and most ethical means of achieving lightness and balance.

The main purpose of Classical Equitation training is to preserve the horse’s soundness and happiness, while developing them systematically according to time-honoured principles based on biomechanics and equine psychology. Jo couples this knowledge (and its real understanding of how the horse is put together both morphologically and psychologically) with the science of behavioural psychology.

Jo’s enthusiastic and supportive coaching style is facilitated through one-2-one lessons, group clinics and workshops taught throughout the UK. Jo also offers a uniquely tailored consultancy service via video and email to enable progress with training and ongoing support between lessons. Jo is also able to offer more detailed and structured support towards specific training goals through helping to create individual shaping plans as part of client’s training programmes.

If you would like to enquire about any of the different services or coaching formats which Equi-libre Horses offer or would like to explore the possibility of organising a clinic or lesson day in your area, please contact us on jo@equi-libre.co.uk