Free webinar from leading researcher on equine behaviour issues

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Dr Sue Dyson
Dr Sue Dyson

Internationally renowned equine veterinarian and researcher Sue Dyson is fronting a free webinar on April 14 that will look at elements of her recently published study on horse behaviour during tacking‐up and mounting.

The research, led by Dyson, was published in January 2021, and delivered what the study team described as disturbing results.

We have probably all encountered uncooperative horses during tacking up, or ones that refuse to stand at the mounting block. We may hear “Oh, he always does that” or “She’s just being naughty” but is that really the case? We would probably all recognise that if a horse kicks or bites it is unhappy about a situation but many horses show more passive behaviours, including during tacking up, that some of us might not notice – things like fidgeting, chomping on the bit, having the ears behind the vertical, or developing an intense stare. We may have seen horses behave like this so often that we regard these behaviours as normal.

Are these horses anticipating pain because their mouths hurt, having tack on hurts or being ridden hurts? Dyson will outline many of the things that horses do when they are being tacked up are more common in those that are lame, have an ill-fitting saddle or a sore back, or where the rider sits too far back in the saddle.

It is the latest webinar in World Horse Welfare’s “Welfare Wednesday” fortnightly series. For the question and answer session, Dyson is joined by Adam Cummins, Centre Manager at World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Lancashire.

» Register for the webinar, on April 14 at 7pm (GMT), to take part in the various polls and ask questions during the Q&A.


Sue Dyson

Sue Dyson qualified from the University of Cambridge in 1980 and then completed an Internship in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery at New Bolton Centre. She then spent a year in private equine practice in Pennsylvania, before returning to Great Britain to take a position in clinical orthopaedics at the Animal Health Trust – running a clinical referral service for lameness and poor performance, attracting clients from all over the United Kingdom, Ireland and continental Europe for 37 years. From 2019 she has worked as an independent consultant. Sue’s key interests are improving the diagnosis of lameness and poor performance and maximising the opportunity for horses to fulfil their athletic potential at whatever level. She was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for a thesis entitled ‘The Differential Diagnosis of Shoulder Lameness in the Horse’ and the RCVS Diploma in Equine Orthopaedics by examination and was awarded a PhD by the University of Helsinki and is recognised as a ‘Specialist in Equine Orthopaedics’ by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Sue is an Associate of the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging and a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Sue is also a rider and has produced horses to national level in both eventing and showjumping.

Most recently, Sue’s research has focused on identifying equine behaviours that may reflect underlying musculoskeletal pain when the horse is ridden (the ‘Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram’) and during tacking up.

Adam Cummins
Adam Cummins

Adam Cummins joined World Horse Welfare as Centre Manager at Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in 2019. Before that, Adam spent 17 years as an equine instructor at one of the UK’s leading colleges, and this provided him with a broad range of knowledge of horse care, riding, and teaching. Adam has competed in affiliated dressage up to and including Prix St Georges level. He has also trained riders for affiliated and unaffiliated dressage competitions from prelim to advanced level, both regionally and nationally.

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