Full biographies for the speakers presenting at the Positive Equine Conference.

Click here to find out how to access recordings of webinars

  • Ben Hart

    IAABC Certified Horse Behaviour Consultant
    ABTC Registered Accredited Animal Behaviourist

    Ben hates injustice and wasted potential, and he has a mission to help people understand the true nature of equines by using the honesty of the science of behaviour to help both animals and their people unlock their true potential.  He firmly believes working with equines doesn't have to be complicated, dangerous or stressful and by helping people to understand the true and amazing behaviour of equines, he wants them to better understand each other to make life better for horses, donkeys and Mules. Ben removes the myths and dependence on dominance and forceful training methods and focuses on positive, safe effective solutions that centre on both the animal and the human.  Ben's delivery of training is unique, being both fun and inspiring which ensures an outstanding experience that is enjoyable and life changing.  Ben is also the author of several books on equine behaviour and clicker training, as well as the creator of a unique series of individual equine training plans and online courses.  He has worked with horses, mules, donkeys and people all over the world: from mustangs and race horses in California, stock horses in Australia, pleasure horses in Canada and Europe, and working equines in Cambodia and Ethiopia, Egypt, Mexico, Kenya.


  • Catherine Bell

    Equine Behaviourist

    Independent Barefoot Trimmer

    Catherine started to study equine - and later human - behaviour when she realised that traditional horsemanship was making her horse miserable. Although then working full-time in postdoctoral astrophysics research, in 2003 she started the Thinking Horsemanship Forum web-based discussion group, one of the first on-line sites dedicated to discussion of equine behaviour and training with positive reinforcement. She gradually started to take on clients, later becoming a Certified Horse Behaviour Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants and registered as an Accredited Equine Behaviourist with the Animal Behaviour and Training Council. More recently she has obtained a First Class Honours Psychology degree, with particular emphasis on counselling.

    Catherine was a co-founder of the Equine Behaviour and Training Association, through which she has contributed a chapter to the book Equine Behaviour in Mind (edited by Suzanne Rogers) and recently led an academic study, published in the journal Animals, into the poor ability of horse owners to recognise when horses are stressed and/or fearful.

    Catherine currently home educates her children, leading her to develop a strong interest in autonomous learning and freedom of choice in training. She is fascinated by motivation, both in the sense of why we all do what we do and also unpicking our reasons for wanting to train particular behaviours in the first place, the latter being a commonly overlooked factor in many training issues.


  • Emily Keison

    M.S., PgDip, ESMHL, PhD 

    Emily is a member of the Board in MiMer and serves as secretary. She is the Director or their research department, which she leads together with Francesca Gatti. Emily is also the contact person and program director in US (together with Kate Causbie) and, together with Katarina Lundgren, she is also responsible for creating and developing their educational material.

    Emily has a PhD in Comparative Psychology from Oklahoma State University, a MS in Psychology from Oklahoma State University, a B.S. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Equine Science from the University of Edinburgh. She teaches and develops courses at Post University and Unity College and serves on the Equine Welfare Committee of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. Her passion is researching equine behavioral psychology in the context of horse-human interactions with specific focuses on affiliative strategies, social bonding, and positive welfare.


    Emily has spent almost 20 years as a multi-disciplinary trainer and instructor in both Texas and Oklahoma and became interested in equine-assisted activities and therapies about ten years ago. She has been trained and certified in a half-dozen models of EAAT and continues to learn about the field. It was during these trainings that she discovered the lack of research in horse-human interactions and became interested (honestly, obsessed) with developing the science in this field. Specifically, Emily is interested in understanding how horses interact with humans in ways that mimic social bonding to help develop better models of equine-assisted psychotherapy that use equine interactions to parallel interpersonal relationships. She also has ambitions of using this to help individuals create better relationships with their horses at home and create more centralized educational resources for horse owners and equine practitioners.

    You find Emily at emily@mimercentre.org


  • Hannah Weston

    Connection Training Director and Coach

    Hannah loves working with horses and their humans to build better communication and joy. This is in all areas from helping abused rescue horses learn to trust again, or working with leisure owners to want to ride their horses in a way which is soft and fun for both horse and rider. 


    Hannah's own herd is an eclectic mix of breeds and backgrounds - from 9hh to 16hh, from rescues to horses who have been with Hannah since they were youngsters. Her own horses are her teachers and are where she learns and refines her training techniques, improving her unique approach to positive horse training. Her own goal for her horses is for them to be 'positive all-rounders' - these are horses who are trained positively and are happy to turn their hoof to a bit of everything from trick training to happy hacking to gymnastic groundwork to healthy, happy riding.

    Hannah has been teaching reward-based horse training online and in-person for over a decade and is co-author of the bestselling book, Connection Training.


  • Jenny Eichner

    BSc (hons) Psychology, Ad Prof Dip PC, MBACP

    Equine Behaviourist & Trainer

    Counsellor & Psychotherapist

    Jenny founded Equine Centred to promote a welfare focused approach to horse training and management. Jenny is qualified as a horse trainer and behaviourist and provides equine behaviour consultations, courses, demos, talks and individual and group lessons. Her approach is to put the welfare of the horse first, to work in a relationship and attachment focused way and to use Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) and ethical evidence based interventions. This keeps the training low stress, fun and engaging learning for both humans and horses! Jenny has been involved with horses her whole life and currently has 2 horses who live out all year together in fields surrounded by woodland.


    After completing her degree in Psychology, Jenny trained as a Counsellor and then Equine Facilitated Psychotherapist. She runs a private practice, Integrated Psychotherapeutic Solutions, where she provides psychological therapies and is Programme Director for IFEEL Qualifications where she is IQA and equine tutor for their courses in equine facilitated human development and psychotraumtology.



  • Jessie Sams

    Fdsc Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare 

    Animal Behaviourist

    Jessie is an animal behaviour consultant who completed a degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at the University of Greenwich in 2012, she is currently doing her Bsc Equine Health and Welfare at the Royal Agricultural University. She is also currently undertaking her Certification with the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour to become a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist.


    She has been around horses since a young child and prior to working as a behaviour consultant she worked with a wide range of horses in different settings and circumstances including work with showjumpers and racehorses. Jessie competed up to young riders level and produced her pony as a Junior from British Novice to JA. From here she grew a passion for giving horses the very best start regardless of discipline using a holistic approach of the horses psychological and physical wellbeing. After completing her degree she then developed an interest in positive reinforcement training. She also works in a mixed general practice with horses and dogs, many of whom have suffered trauma.


    Jessie has a special interest in trauma in non-human animals and incorporates trauma informed care principles, neuroscience, Polyvagal and attachment theory into her work. Her approach is integral and focuses on the whole animal with the aim of improving animal – human relationships by facilitating safe relationships and experiences from which a solid foundation and relationship can be built.

    Her own business, Animal Trauma Recovery Service in UK you find more info about here: www.facebook.com/Animaltraumarecoveryservice

  • Kate Blackmore

    Equine Behaviour Consultant
    Equine Trainer at the Conquest Centre

    Kate’s passion and life mission, is to make natural management techniques and positive
    reinforcement viable within a working environment.

    Having started her equine life in a traditional way of pony clubs and gymkhanas, Kate moved away from the equine world to study at university and worked abroad. 9 years ago, she started volunteering at the Conquest Centre, a charity that provides therapeutic equine activities to over 250 people per week. It was not long before she became a member of staff learning the intricacies of therapeutic riding and its related activities. Due to her forward thinking she became a coach and RDA GI and later Deputy Manager. Her role changed 5 years ago after having a behaviourist come in and consult on one of the charity’s horses. What she learnt had such a profound effect that she restudied and qualified as an Equine Behavioural Consultant, which led to her setting up her own consultancy business ‘Equilogical – Positive Equine Partnerships’.

    Since then, as well as her private consultancy work and training, she has implemented change to over 800 people involved with the charity, moving the Centre from traditional based training and husbandry to more natural and science-based methods.

    In her own enthusiastic way, she is now educating on behaviour and +R to both children and adults, regardless of ability and challenging both preconceived and traditional belief on equines.

    Positivity, support, transparency, and understanding are the core values that underpin her work.



  • Melanie S Watson 

    BHSAI- Equine Behaviour Consultant/Trainer
    Instinctive Horse Training

    Endorsed trainer for The World Bitless Association.

    Member of:

    ABMA (Animal Behaviour Management Alliance)

    PPG BI (Pet Professional Guild. British Isles)

    IAABC (International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants)

    Melanie has been in business, training horses, since 1985, in Skidby, East Yorkshire. She is a leading light in the UK for modern and ethical horse behaviour modification using applied behavioural science, learning theory and LIMA principles (least invasive, minimally aversive).


    Bringing modern animal training thinking, using positive reward and positive reinforcement, into the world of UK horse training. Historically human dominance, force and punishing techniques have always been used on horses in order to subdue them - as they learn to “respect” humans and hopefully become compliant to their masters! Reform in education and thinking is desperately needed as dominance training is completely archaic.


    Branded Instinctive Horse Training, Melanie is the UK’s very first professional training yard to adopt force free training based on marker (clicker) Counter conditioning and systematic desensitising training as the base of retraining complicated and traumatised horses, and introducing all young horses in to the world of ridden work via positive reward.

    Alongside the bricks and mortar yard work, Melanie provides home visits across the North of England to where the problem is happening. She also remotely mentors horse owners across the world via Skype, Zoom and Whats app video calling, to both understand the behaviour of their horses and supporting her devised training routes and protocols.


    Although she works cross species (zoos, dogs and anything in between) Melanie is ostensibly a horse behaviour specialist.

    Melanie provides talks, seminars, presents at conferences and runs workshops to pet owners, animal trainers, zoos and regularly guest lectures at various universities and colleges across the UK.

    Other speaking venues include business networking and charity events where Melanie captures the correlations in behaviour between the human animal and animals in general. There is much to learn about our own feelings, emotions and reactions when compared with our animals behaviours.

    Melanie also provides training seminars and workshops all across the UK.

    Understanding behaviour, what drives behaviour, why unwanted behaviour keeps happening and how we can shape positive new behaviours, is a fascinating subject and one which effects every one of us as we interact with family and friends, workplace colleges and employees….as well as with our pets of cause.

    If you are interested in having me come along to speak at one of your Business Networking events, Charity fund raisers, Education centres, riding clubs, dog training clubs or anywhere else, then please feel free to contact me on:-


    Mobile number  +447720 758425

    Email                       melanie@instinctivehorsetraining.co.uk

    Website                  www.instinctivehorsetraining.co.uk

    Facebook page   www.facebook.com/instinctivehorsetraining

  • Rachel Bedingfield

     B.Sc. (Agric) Hons, MBA

    Connection Training Director and Coach

    Positive Horse Training Spain Co-founder

    Rachel is one of the foremost teachers of positive horse training in the world. Rachel became a born-again horse-woman in her 30s, when her daughter, Hannah, started dragging her to the stables. Rachel and Hannah went on to create the partnership known as Connection Training. This is the prime Membership Site for Online Learning of positive horse training. Their recent book of the same name , instantly became a best seller and is likely to become a classic.

    When she was 40, Rachel left the Corporate world and began to study horsemanship seriously. She ran clinics and workshops bringing the world’s best equine practitioners and thinkers to the UK. Through her learning with these people, she applied the latest science on equine ethology,  nutrition, hoof care and training to her own horses, with excellent results. 

    In 2004 she founded the Natural Horse Shop, applying her knowledge of equine nutrition in advising owners and supplying forage-based feeds. She also studied for an M.Sc. on laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome at The University of Lincoln. Her topic was the early detection and management of chronic conditions.

    In 2006 she began to focus on two more areas of horsemanship: positive reinforcement training and rider biomechanics. She had fallen and broken her back two years previously and these two streams came together, helping her to train horses to be safer and herself to be more balanced and secure.

    Her fascination with learning processes and overcoming fear brought her to study the neuroscience of emotions, led by the work of Jaak Panksepp. This helped her to develop a unique approach to confidence building and enabled her to help more people to overcome their own fear and insecurity and create confident relationships with their horses. 

    In 2012, Hannah and Rachel founded Clix College, which was the precursor to Connection Training, conducting online seminars, video tutorials and one-to-one internet coaching.  Connection Training is now the most comprehensive online resource, covering everything from the basic foundations to ridden performance. 

    They ran the Equine Clicker Conference in 2012, the world’s first gathering of people specializing in marker/reward training for horses. In 2013, they ran another and also included a follow-up Online Conference, so many more practitioners could present and students from all over then world could join in the discussions. In 2016, along with Shawna Karrasch, they ran a “Riding with Connection Conference”, focusing on using positive reinforcement for all aspects of horse riding.

    In 2016, now a widow, Rachel invested her pensions in another dream and founded an equine rehabilitation and re-homing centre. This is a Registered Educational Charity, located in Andalucia Spain. The aim of Positive Horse Training, Spain, is to demonstrate the best approach to emotional recovery in rescue horses. Her co-founder is Claire Waldron, a CT Coach and together they run online and residential courses for charities staff and horse owners.




  • Risë VanFleet

    International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy®
    Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, Inc.

    Risë VanFleet, PhD, CDBC,CAEBC-I is a licensed psychologist specializing in children, families, and animals, a certified dog behavior consultant, and a certified animal ethology and behavior consultant-instructor with over 45 years of experience in a variety of settings. With Tracie Faa-Thompson of the UK, she has co-created the field of Animal Assisted Play Therapy®. Together they are the authors of the award-winning book, Animal Assisted Play Therapy, and offer training programs throughout the world on AAPT as well as on topics relating to human-animal relationships, well-being, and behavioral issues in animals. Dr. VanFleet also works with highly fearful and unsocialized or traumatized animals using a multimodal approach that also includes the systematic use of play. She is based in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania USA, and can be reached at www.iiaapt.org and rise@risevanfleet.com.

  • Rachel Steen

    Equine Behavior Consultant, Instructor/R+ Trainer
    Balance Point Equestrian Learning Center

    Rachel Steen has 35 years experience raising and training horses in a variety of environments.  With a degree in Biology from Eastern Oregon University and a focus on Equine Rehabilitation, her decades with performance and rescue horses, and study of classical dressage and equine biomechanics gives Rachel a unique insight into keeping horses happy and healthy and working in partnership with humans.  Her home facility, the Balance Point Equestrian Learning Center, is devoted to working with equines exclusively using LIMA guidelines and Positive Reinforcement Training, and has become a destination for horse trainers and riding instructors from all over the world to come experience a truly equine focused equestrian center.


  • Sara Brittlegill

    BSc (Hons) Biology 

    Horse owner and trainer

    My equine obsession began at the age of 3, on a beach with a bunch of seaside donkeys. I was happily walking amongst them while my parents were running up and down frantically trying to find me. My dad was dispatched to 'rescue' me, much to my disapppointment. After that I was obsessed with equines. I read everything I could, in the days when there was no internet, just library books. Stories and text books. Then, at the age of 9 I found a riding school, a bus ride away and began to learn to ride on Trophy, a 13.2hh bay pony who belonged to the riding school owner. I ended up working at the riding school and receiving what I now understand to be an excellent basic education in keeping horses naturally. They got fat in the summer, thin in the winter, they were never clipped, bathed, fed or rugged. Nothing but a basic snaffle bridle and definitely no whips. No trotting on the roads, too much concussion.


    I got my first horse in my forties - my heart horse, Dave. He's a 15.3hh fewspot appaloosa. Sadly, he inherited PSSM, which is common in quarter horses, drafts and their crosses. This horse taught me all I know about training fairly and without force. He's done many jobs, including jousting, horse-boarding, show-jumping, endurance and miles of hacking. He's still with me and looking after his mares in the field, now at 20 years old.

    I've needed my degree in Biology understanding how to help Dave with his symptoms. It's not a complex disease, but it presents differently in those affected and unravelling it and making a plan to help each horse takes good observation and  hard work. It's about management so the more owners understand about the disease, the better. It can be a roller-coaster ride caring for a horse, and supporting other owners is my way of giving back ,to thank him for being my inspiration for the past 16 years.

  • Shawna Karrasch

    Positive Reinforcement Trainer and Behaviorist

    Shawna is a pioneer in the use of Positive Reinforcement Training with horses. Her powerful and humane behavioral training techniques are an eye-opening experience for equine professionals, competitors, and amateurs alike. She has produced books and videos, and traveled worldwide to teach the concepts of bridge conditioning and positive reinforcement for horses.

    Shawna began her training career far outside the equestrian world, working with large marine mammals. Animals such as dolphins, sea lions and orcas cannot be coerced. Only positive reinforcement methods can be used to ask these magnificent creatures to participate voluntarily in activities with human trainers. (You may be able to force a horse onto a trailer, but just try it with a walrus!)

    When introduced to the world of top equestrian competition, Shawna saw immediately how reward-based training could be used to engage the horse’s willingness in equestrian pursuits. A number of years ago, top trainer John Madden was so impressed with Shawna’s early results that the world-renowned training facility at the Madden farm became the testing ground for adapting Positive Reinforcement Training for horses.

    By using Shawna’s Positive Reinforcement Training methods, Olympian Beezie Madden taught her famous show jumper Judgment (now Judgment ISF) to overcome his fear of water and go on to win the $1,000,000 CN International at Spruce Meadows, among many other international show-jumping victories. Beezie’s spectacular success over decades as a top international competitor on a series of great horses is a testament not only to her extraordinary talent and skill as a rider and trainer, but also in part to the reward-based training system that Shawna first developed on the Madden farm.

    Shawna’s infectious enthusiasm, sense of humor, years of training experience and rapport with animals and humans makes her one of the finest positive-reinforcement trainers in North America.



  • Suzanne Rogers

    BSc (hons) 

    IAABC Certified Horse Behaviour Consultant

    Suzanne worked in science publishing for 10 years - initially as a science journalist and later as the Managing Editor of several review journals. In her spare time, she re-qualified in animal behaviour and welfare, gained extensive practical experience with several animal welfare organisations, worked as an equine behaviour consultant and founded Learning About Animals, which hosts educational events. She is still active as an IAABC-certified equine behaviour consultant.


    In 2007 she became the Programmes Manager of the Companion Animal Unit at WSPA (now World Animal Protection) managing dog population and working equine programmes. A key part of this role was to develop and test participatory methodologies – working within communities to lead to a change in the way people manage and care for their animals. Suzanne led the move away from a heavy focus on mobile clinics towards prevention through participatory approaches. To reflect the broad applicability of the approach to other species she became the Technical Advisor for Human Behaviour Change Programmes. Since 2011, Suzanne has worked as an international consultant for animal welfare and human behaviour change, working with many key animal organisations. In 2016 she co-founded Human Behaviour Change for Animals CIC, of which she is still a co-Director. The focus on human behaviour has been invaluable in her ongoing work as an equine behaviour consultant and she lectures remotely on this topic as part of the University of Edinburgh’s Clinical Animal Behaviour course.



  • Trudi Dempsey

    IAABC and ABTC certified Equine Behaviourist and experienced equine trainer

    Equine trainer and behaviour consultant, Trudi Dempsey, is based in the South West of England. She grew up with ponies in the traditional pony club way, later competing and training others in dressage.

    For many years now Trudi has been successfully applying the science of learning and behaviour, she is a certified (IAABC and ABTC) equine behaviourist and experienced equine trainer.

    From her more traditional roots in dressage, Trudi blends her knowledge of gymnastic exercises with a modern R+ approach. She enjoys working with horses and humans from diverse backgrounds. Her aim is to bring clarity to the science of behaviour so that it can be applied in every day situations. 

    Setting up environments that make learning easier and less stressful is just one way to work towards an errorless learning situation for our horses. In her webinar Trudi will look at ways you can create learning environments to support your horse and get cleaner and more confident behaviour loops.


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Based in East Grinstead, Mid Sussex, West Sussex near East Sussex, Surrey and Kent borders RH19

© 2017 Jenny Eichner - Equine Centred

Photography by Maria Olarte