Welcome to Dynamics Coaching

Marianne Davies’ coaching experience includes more than 20 years of working in sports, academic and corporate environments. She is a coach educator, assessor and national trainer. Marianne spent eight years in the role of Coaching Manager for Canoe Wales and before that was responsible for participation development.

Marianne worked for many years as a full-time senior adventure sports coach during which time she was responsible for the design and delivery of a two-year practical-based module for a Sports Science & Outdoor Education degree course at Bangor University. As well as training and assessing other coaches.

In this conversation we discuss…

– How to use constraints in the sport of canoeing
– An ecological approach to equestrian sports
– How to facilitate learning that is in the ‘ugly zone’

This is a great conversation, I hope you enjoy.


Dynamics Coaching
Dynamics Coaching

I often hear "If he didn't want to, he wouldn't do it”. There seems to be a growing number of people on social media saying that you can’t make a horse something they don’t want to do. These comments could, for example, be in response to a film showing a horse displaying behaviours that indicate they are stressed (rushing, nipping, fidgeting, licking and chewing, showing the whites of the eye etc) when they are asked to jump, load, stand still or hack out alone.

It is clear many people don’t recognise the subtle (or even not-so-subtle!) signs of stress or fear in horses and they believe that if their horse didn’t want to do something there is no way anyone could make them, but it is not that straightforward.

It is actually very easy to make a horse do something they don't want to do. That's one of the reasons we can do so much with them, they are very tolerant of us and more often than not do as we ask. Therefore it's extremely important that we consider whether what we ask is right for them or not, that we learn to read our horses behaviour and body language and make sure they are confident and well-trained before we ask too much of them.

How a horse behaves in any situation depends partly on his past experiences. For example, a frightened horse who tried to escape being clipped for the first time could have been hit, then been tied fast in a pressure halter. So now their fear of experiencing pain is greater than their fear of clippers and so they stand still – they freeze.

Sadly, this is an all too common way of training horses. Rather than teaching the horse the clippers aren’t going to hurt by introducing them gradually and rewarding them for trying, increasing pressure is applied to force them to stand still.

The result is that the horse is still frightened of the clippers, but they are now also frightened of the pressure halter, the handler and perhaps even the environment they were clipped in. They will also have learned that their attempt to escape meant they would be hurt, so they may be less likely to try that tactic again in future and instead put up with the situation. The horse may actually end up in learned helplessness and give up trying to escape from other difficult situations too.

If we humans are frightened and don’t want to do something, surely we understand that adding extra pain, discomfort or fear to force us to face that situation won’t magically fix our original fear? So why do we believe it will fix a horse's fear?

Learning to recognise the early signs of fear/stress/anxiety/discomfort in your horse is vital. Potential Indicators of acute stress can include a raised head and neck position, tail swishing, pawing at the ground, shying, whinnying, increased oral behaviours (eg. mouthing the leadrope when led), the four Fs (flight, fight, freeze, fidget), tension in the facial muscles, showing the white of the eye, triangulation of the upper eyelid or an inability to concentrate.

If your horse starts to perform an unusual behaviour, take note! If the behaviour occurs because of something you do, does it stop when you stop, and then start again when you resume your behaviour? Watch your horse to see when it happens, notice what you are doing and what is going on the environment.

Always consult a vet if your horse’s behaviour changes suddenly and if they are clear of any physical issues then a certified behaviourist can help you.
Dynamics Coaching
Dynamics Coaching
What a great way to kick off the ‘Play Their Way podcast 🙌

So much absolute gold in this one.

Dynamics Coaching
Dynamics Coaching
Episode 40 of The River Tiger Podcast!

Fuelling your coaching journey: Event rider and coach Alex van Randwyck shares her insights on how to develop and nurture your own coaching skills.

Firstly, I need to say a huge 'thank you' to all of my amazing guests and to all of you who are listening and supporting the podcast. I never imagine that we would get to 40 episodes.

My guest is Alex van Randwyck and although the conversation is about equestrian sports, as always, it is just as relevant for any sport or activity.

Dynamics Coaching
Dynamics Coaching
Dynamics Coaching
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