Equine Veterinary Services

Equine Behaviour

The Equine Behaviour Service is run by Gemma Pearson, one of our equine specialists, with over ten years of experience working with equine behaviour cases.

Behaviour 2

Gemma is the Veterinary Liaison Officer for the International Society of Equitation Science and one of the very few people in the world to hold an Associate Diploma in Equitation Science.

As well as offering consultations, Gemma is available to give talks for vets, at client evenings or for riding clubs on equine behaviour and overcoming common problems such as needle shy horses or those that won’t load.

Recently Gemma presented at the International Society for Equitation Science conference 2012 on the application of learning theory to dealing with difficult horses in the veterinary environment.

Consultations are taken for:

  • Trailer Loading or scrabbling when travelling
  • Leading difficulties e.g. bargy, pulls, reluctant to lead
  • Won't stand still for mounting
  • Aggressive behaviour including biting/kicking
  • Desensitisation to needles, clippers, farrier, sprays, plastic bags, hose pipes
  • Dangerous ridden behaviour e.g. rears, bucks, spins, spooky, naps or bolts
  • Other ridden problems e.g. lazy, too strong/pulls, falls in/out
  • Separation Anxiety
  • General nervousness or anxious in hand/ridden

Gemma will work with you and your horse using Learning Theory. This involves understanding how horses learn to train them more effectively and humanely.

Training becomes easy for the horse resulting in lightness and an obedient, happy horse. The study of Equitation Science is an exciting new discipline combining equine learning theory, biomechanics (how horses move) and ethology.

Equitation science promotes an objective, evidence-based understanding of the welfare of horses during training and competition by applying valid, quantitative scientific methods that can identify what training techniques are ineffective or may result in equine suffering.

Equitation science uses a multidisciplinary approach to explain horse training, for example from a learning theory perspective that removes anthropomorphism and emotiveness.

There will also be the standard call out fee for the practice, for yards further away please contact us for prices. Alternatively we have facilities here at the Dick Vet Equine Hospital if you want to bring your horse here instead.

How Many Consultations will my horse need?

How many consultations are needed will depend on the problem. Horses that have difficulty loading are almost always loading happily within a single session and should continue to load well for life.

For desensitisation to clippers it usually takes 3-6 sessions for a horse to stand calmly to be clipped anywhere on its body.

Ridden problems can be more variable so it may be worth ringing to discuss your horse’s problems first, or having an initial consultation to assess the problem.


Gemma is available to run clinics for ridding clubs or small groups of people. This would involve a 45 minute session per horse working on in hand, ridden problems or a combination. We would need at least 5 participants to run a clinic and spectators are, of course, welcome. You may want to run a clinic as a lecture followed by a clinic to get the most out of understanding Learning Theory.

Prices are £45 per session or £30 each for a shared session.

Telephone Consultations

We offer a free telephone advice service. If you would like to discuss your horses problems please call Dick Vet Equine on 0131 6506253 and ask to speak to Gemma Pearson.


Some articles and information written by Gemma.