A demonstration on equine learning took place at Coombe Park near Totnes in Devon. Facilitated by the Duchy College Higher Education (HE) Equine teaching team and promoted by the Mare & Foal Sanctuary to members of the public, the HE Duchy equine team designed the evening activities and the content of the workshops.
Three workshops of 20 minutes each were designed to encourage audience participation. They included; “Equine Learning” facilitated by Sue Horseman, “Equine Behaviour” by Anna Walker and “Communication” which involved blindfolding participants to help improve their awareness of the value of communication, facilitated by Alison Abbey.
The team were helped on the evening by an FdSc Equitation, Training and Behaviour second year student Rhi Summers who volunteered her time. Rhi very competently took one of the behaviour and learning theory sessions. Rhi said “I am really enjoying my course at Duchy College and I have learnt a lot since I started studying there. The opportunity to come along and deliver a session on a subject I am passionate about and intend to make my career in was too good to turn down.”
During the coffee break the attendees’ knowledge was tested in a table top quiz where the prize was a training session with any of the presenters in their specialist areas for the winners and their horses.
After the break, Alison taught two ponies from the Sanctuary, neither of which she had seen before; one ridden and one from the ground. This was to demonstrate the links between the theories shared that evening through the workshops and its practical application; to illustrate how horses learn.
Alison Abbey, Team Lead for HE Animal Science, said: “The evening was a great success and the feedback has been very positive from attendees and sanctuary staff so we will put in more dates for this Autumn and Spring 2018 for more demonstrations. We are hoping to develop our relationship with the Mare & Foal Sanctuary to do more collaborative studies and educational sessions, to enhance the welfare of every equine in their association with humans.”