Behaviour Problems

Felicity George BSc MPhil SEBC PTC

Equine Behaviour Consultant

What is a 'Behaviour Problem'?

If your horse's behaviour is concerning you for any reason, spending time with your horse can become stressful, upsetting or even dangerous and we can class the behaviour that is worrying you as a 'behaviour problem'. Clearly, people's attitudes about what is or is not a problem vary widely, from those who are concerned by small signs of tension in their horse to those who happily report that they had a good week and only got bucked off three times! The term 'behaviour problem' does not put any blame on your horse (or you!) it simply means that you have a concern about how he is behaving.

So, whether your horse's behaviour is, for example:

  • causing you concerns for your safety, or the safety of others
  • causing you worry about his welfare
  • causing you worry due to complaints about his behaviour from livery staff or other owners at your yard
  • preventing you from performing routine tasks such as clipping
  • detracting from your competitive success or progress in training
  • simply puzzling you because you don't understand his behaviour
a qualified equine behaviour consultant can help you to understand the behaviour and resolve any problems.

Examples of typical behaviour problems


Including problems tacking up, mounting, bucking, rearing, bolting, napping, jumping problems, rushing backwards, head tossing, spooking, lack of attention to rider/slow to respond to aids, problems when away from home, for example 'playing up' when out at competitions.
Including leading or catching problems, problems loading and/or travelling, difficult behaviour with the farrier or vet, problems with grooming, rugging up, clipping or picking up feet, head shyness.
Including jumping out of stable or field, distress when separated from other horses, eating or drinking problems, concerning behaviour towards field companions or other horses/animals, attention seeking behaviours such as banging on the stable door.
Including jumping out of stable or field, distress when separated from other horses, eating or drinking problems, concerning behaviour towards field companions or other horses/animals, attention seeking behaviours such as banging on the stable door.

 Solving Behaviour Problems

If your horse had a physical problem that was concerning you, you would, in the first instance, call your vet. We know that vets are trained to a certain standard, and should carry out a professional diagnosis of the problem then recommend appropriate treatment.

Likewise, if your horse has a behaviour problem, whether it is a ridden problem, management or handling issues, or anything else that is concerning you, it is advisable to get help from someone who is properly qualified in this area.

Other approaches, such as taking advice (often unasked for!) from someone who has seen a ‘similar’ problem, or embarking on a lengthy retraining programme without a clear idea of why it might fix the problem can be time-consuming and may make the problem worse instead of better. ‘Experimenting’ in this way can also be a big risk to your safety and the welfare of your horse.

The approach that Felicity takes has the following benefits:


A verbal case history is taken, along with hands-on assessment of the horse where possible. This information is used to identify the root cause(s) of the problem, so that appropriate solutions can be applied.

Tailored to suit each individual horse and owner

Often there are a range of solutions to a problem, and factors such as your time, availability of helpers, facilities, your usual routine and how you normally work with your horse are all taken into account when proposing solutions.


Her approach considers all the factors - although the problem behaviour may in some cases have one simple root cause, sometimes there are several influencing factors, some of which may not be immediately apparent and all of which must be considered and treated to solve the problem.

Prioritising safety and welfare

Solutions that could put you or your horse at risk during training, or be detrimental to your horse’s welfare will not be advised. You will not be asked to do anything that you don't feel safe, happy and confident about doing, and while the aim is to enable you to work independently, as much support will be given as is required.


Solutions are all based on a sound and scientific understanding of equine behaviour, but a wide range of practical techniques can be used providing that they are compatible with the underlying principles. Any technique which is effective, fair to the horse, and practical for the owner can be considered, and there is no strict adherence to one 'system' to achieve results.


Her professional approach means that client confidentiality is ensured, and that she will not work outwith her area of expertise. For example, if root causes such as pain or tack-related issues are suspected, advice about other professionals who can best address these issues will be given (most commonly referral to a vet, physiotherapist or qualified saddle fitter).

Supportive & Friendly

She is always available for on-going support and advice, by phone, email, or through training sessions. She has a kind, positive and non-confrontational approach (to people and horses alike!) that is entirely focused on helping each individual horse and owner in whatever way is best for them


A detailed report will be provided after every assessment, ensuring that you have a good understanding of why your horse behaves as he does, and why the proposed solution will work. Having your horse's behaviour fully explained, and being shown how to fix it, rather than someone else coming in and fixing the problem will give you more confidence with your horse, improve your partnership, give you more knowledge to use to fix other problems in the future, and help you avoid recurrence of the original problem.