Dr Debbie Marsden BSc PhD, Equine Behaviour Consultant Contact Details  
Dr Debbie Marsden, one of the world's leading experts in the field of equine behaviour
About Behaviour Problems Lessons Courses Expert Witness Work Fees

SEBC Accredited Professional Training

Quick Overview
  • SEBC accredited training for Professional Training Certificate and Registration
  • Specialist training on safer and more humane management of horses
  • Useful for all working within the horse industry
  • Part time to fit around work and family commitments
  • Various locations across the UK

The courses are designed for people with both practical experience of working with horses and appropriate people skills, wishing to proceed to professional qualification (PTC) and registration with the Society of Equine Behaviour Consultants (SEBC) as an Equine Behaviour Consultant. The Courses also provide specialist training on the safe and humane management of horses and through improved understanding of horse behaviour and training techniques, safer and more efficient management and training in all disciplines. There are usually 10 weekend modules throughout the year arranged to allow those with full time work and family commitments to participate.

Combining the science of animal behaviour and learning theory with the best of traditional and modern equine training techniques, these courses are developed from Dr Marsden's 30 years of successful professional practice. SEBC accredited course offer trainees the benefit of Dr Marsden's highly respected expertise as well as the practical and professional experience of other SEBC Registered Consultants, and other equestrian professionals such as Master Saddlers, Veterinary Physiotherapists, Farriers, Lawyers and Business Consultants.

About Dr Marsden

The internationally recognised equine behaviour expert Dr Debbie Marsden is the author of “How Horses Learn”, with many years of equine behaviour research and teaching experience at the University of Edinburgh attached to the Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, plus 30 years of successfull professional practice as an Equine Behaviour Consultant. See CV and brief bio on About page.

Who Do We Train?

SEBC Accredited Professional Training Courses aim to train experienced equestrians who want to run their own business as professional Equine Behaviour Consultants or who would benefit from specialist practical knowledge of equine behaviour. This is useful to all those working in the horse industry and will augment an existing equestrian career, being particularly valuable for equestrian coaches and riding instructors, riding school proprietors and staff, grooms, livery and stud farm managers and staff, saddlers, veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, farriers, physiotherapists and other professionals within the horse industry.

SEBC Registration

The Courses are the accredited professional training for the Society of Equine Behaviour Consultants Professional Training Certificate examination (SEBC PTC) required for professional registration with SEBC as an Equine Behaviour Consultant in the UK (see www.sebc.co.uk). Ten satisfactory Portfolio pieces are required for entry to the PTC examination and the Courses have been structured so that each Module covers a corresponding Portfolio piece.

Not everyone attending a course wishes to take the exam or register with SEBC. For those who do, full guidance is given on completion of the required Portfolio pieces and exam requriements.

Course Content

The courses cover key elements of horse behaviour, the practical application of this knowledge to managing horses, safety and welfare issues, solving equine behaviour problems, good business practice and the required professional practice for SEBC Registered Equine Behaviour Consultants.

Teaching comprises lectures, tutorials and workshops using slides, videotape/DVD with detailed handouts and practical work with horses. Trainees are given every opportunity to participate in discussion and practical work as well as contributing to ‘role play’ exercises, to consolidate their knowledge and help develop the ‘people’ and other practical skills required for this kind of work. The emphasis of all teaching throughout the course is on the practical and how to successfully manage ‘challenging behaviour’, advise owners, riders and handlers and solve equine behaviour problems in the ‘real’ world of today’s horse industry, using a wide variety of teaching techniques, including problem based learning.

Trainees with specific interests and experience can select Modules to suit and if not wishing to proceed to examination and registration do not need to prepare a Portfolio.


The courses are taught by SEBC Registered Equine Behaviour Consultants, including Dr Marsden and other tutors who are experts in each of the other relevant fields including Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapists, SMS Master Saddlers and Qualified Saddle Fitters, Chartered Accountants, Lawyers, Psychologists and IT Consultants.

Veterinary Physiotherapist Kathryn Welland of Oaklands Physiotherapy teaching on the Warwickshire CourseLaura Dempsey SMS master saddler and qualified saddle fitter teaching a group of students on the Warwickshire CoursePhillip Howard SMS master saddler and qualified saddle fitter teaching a group of students on the Oatridge CourseDiscussing portfolio work on the Oatridge Course


Warwickshire College and London Area

For details of courses in this area including start dates and fees, contact Sarah Clark on 07748 338 173 or email sarah@helpwithhorsebehaviour.co.uk

Warwickshire College is also a BHS Training and Exam Centre, renowned for its equestrian facilities and equine courses, being a Centre for Vocational Excellence (Equine) and popular competition venue.

All teaching and practicals are held in the classrooms and equestrian facilities of the College’s Moreton Morrell Centre, just South of Coventry near Royal Leamington Spa and Warwick within easy reach of the M40, easily accessible via the M5, M1 and M6, with Birmingham airport approx  30 minutes away. Accommodation may be available on campus and there is a wide selection of Hotels, B&B etc nearby. For accommodation information call 01926 318295 or email kfiggit@warkscol.ac.uk . For general enquiries about the College, contact them directly on 0800 783 6767 or enquiries@warkscol.ac.uk or visit www.warkscol.ac.uk .

Kirkley Hall Equestrian Centre and Northumberland College and Oatridge College in Scotland

For details of courses in these areas including start dates and fees, contact Ashley Anne Durie 07808 714 243 or email ashley@positive-equine.com and for further details see www.positive-equine.com

Kirkley Hall

Kirkley Hall Equestrian Centre is based at Northumberland College’s land based campus in Ponteland, just outside Newcastle upon Tyne, NE20 0AQ.

Set within a beautiful 17th Century estate, the Equestrian Centre includes a 25 horse stable yard, all weather riding arenas and a British Eventing approved cross country course.

Accommodation may be available on campus and there is a wide selection of hotels and B&B’s nearby. For further details including accommodation call 01670 841 200 or email enquiries@kirkleyhall.co.uk.


View of Oatridge CollegeThe Arran Room Teaching Suite where the classroom elements of the Oatridge Course are taughtThe Arran Building at Oatridge CollegeExternal view of the Arran Room Teaching Suite at Oatridge

SRUC Oatridge Campus is a member of the Scottish Equestrian Association, a BHS Training and Exam Centre and popular equestrian competition venue. The Course is based in the modern Arran Room suite, set in beautiful grounds, with practical sessions at the nearby teaching yard, using school horses and the fabulous indoor competition facilities all on campus at the Scottish National Equestrian Centre (SNEC) www.snec.co.uk.

The Oatridge Campus is near Edinburgh, beside the small village of Ecclesmachan just outside Broxburn in West Lothian. It is very well served by road (M8/M9 just west of Edinburgh City Bypass A720) and rail and is only a short taxi ride from Edinburgh Airport, Uphall Station or Linlithgow Station. For directions and travel details please contact Oatridge directly on 01506 864 800 or email info@oatridge.ac.uk.

B&B is available on site, contact Oatridge directly and ask for the Accommodation Officer. Alternatively, there is a wide range of Hotels and Scottish Tourist Board Approved accommodation nearby and the Oatridge Campus is easy to get to from Edinburgh, (5 mins from Junction 3 of M8, Livingston).

Course Contents

 History Taking                                                                                                       
This module covers case history taking, from first contact with potential clients to procedures for assessment visits. Teaching includes key facts required, cross presentation of handling, ridden and other problems,  interview technique, assessment of information from clients,  safety do’s and don’ts, procedure and methods of note taking and record keeping. Trainees will have the opportunity to conduct interviews under tutor's guidance, discovering their strengths and areas where improvement is required when reviewing and discussing their performance.
Reading Equine Body Language

This is one of the most important elements of horse behaviour to understand and become proficient in for any equine behaviour consultant or equestrian professional. Unconscious awareness of this is the main way in which experienced equestrian professionals become ‘good with horses’ and how many ‘horse whisperers’ impress clients. Being able to read, understand and explain this to clients is an important clinical ‘tool’ for behaviour consultants. In particular trainees will be taught how to distinguish ‘misbehaviour’ due to pain/fear/pathology from ‘misbehaviour’ due to ‘naughtiness’ or confident pro-active learned behaviour. Teaching uses slides and video before progressing to practical session with horses.

Understanding Equine Social Behaviour                                                                           

An in depth knowledge and thorough understanding of equine social behaviour is also particularly important for the successful behaviour consultant. Misunderstandings between horses and people here are a common cause of many serious problems. Equine social systems will be explained as well as how to distinguish between play, defensive aggression, proactive aggression, ‘relationship issues’ and other types of normal equine social behaviour, including gender–related and reproductive behaviour, an understanding of all of which can be very valuable in managing horses and solving problems for clients. Teaching uses slides and video before progressing to practical session with horses.

Recognising Learned Behaviour Problems                                                            

This module teaches trainees how to recognise learned ‘misbehaviour’ and features other than ‘body language’ which distinguish this from ‘misbehaviour’ due to physical problems. This skill is not only vital to choosing appropriate training techniques but also particularly useful when advising a vet or insurance company whether or not further veterinary investigation is required. Learning theory is taught in detail, including how horse learn in ‘real life’ and how learned behaviour problems develop. The benefits of ruling out ‘learned misbehaviour’ or early positive diagnosis of this and associated safety and welfare issues are discussed. Trainees practice teaching College horses ‘party tricks’ !

Practical Training Techniques                                                                               

The most useful practical training techniques are explained, expanding on Module 4, along with how to select which techniques are most appropriate for individual horses and clients, depending on the nature of the problem and their attitude, ability, time and facilities available.  This module also covers safety issues, assessing and advising clients as well as the pros and cons of taking horses in for ‘re-schooling’. In the practical session, trainees will have the opportunity to practice these techniques, to help understand common pitfalls and develop the required training and teaching skills.

Evaluation of Alternative Training Systems

Opinions vary on the benefits or otherwise of alternative training systems, but these are increasingly popular today, especially amongst those relatively new to horses. Many clients experiencing behaviour problems with their horse will have ‘had a go’ and will ask about these. Trainees will be taught how some of the most popular of these systems actually work (ie not always as promoted), how they can lead to problems and how some elements of some systems can be useful when dealing with some kinds of behaviour problems. The safety and welfare issues involved will be discussed. Trainees are welcome to bring promotional material or video of any system they are particularly keen on or interested in for class discussion.

Husbandry, Handling and Travel Problems

Trainees will be taught how common practices here affect behaviour, can lead to problems and how to diagnose and resolve these kinds of problems, such as loading, travelling, catching, clipping, leading and other handling problems including standing for the vet, or farrier as well as ‘stable-vices’. Knowledge from previous modules is brought together and applied. Safety and welfare issues are discussed.

Saddlery, Tack and associated Problems                                                               

Incorrectly fitted or inappropriate tack is the most common cause of fear and pain related equine behaviour problems. Trainees will be taught how to recognise unsafe equipment and poor bridle and saddle fit in particular from Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitters and other signs that referral to a Veterinary Surgeon is required when dealing with these kinds of problems, including the role of Veterinary Physiotherapy, corrective Farriery, Riding Instructors and the benefits to horses of a multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation here.        

Ridden Problems                                                                                                    

This module covers procedures for assessing, diagnosing and solving ridden behaviour problems. Safety and welfare issues will be discussed, and trainees will be taught how to assess riders, good coaching practice and the benefits of training horses ‘on the ground’ before mounted training.  Trainees will be taught how to diagnose and resolve a wide variety of the most common ridden problems, including rearing, bucking, bolting, napping, spooking, difficulties mounting or cantering, various ‘evasions’ as well as common jumping and performance problems, pulling together knowledge from previous modules and applied.                                                                                                                       

Professional Conduct and Business Practice                                                        

Business practice teaching will include record keeping, tax and marketing, as well as the pro’s and con’s of running your own business and how to avoid some common pitfalls, by a Chartered Accountant with equestrian expertise. Trainees are be taught about professional conduct, including veterinary referrals and liaison with other professionals within the equestrian industry as well as report writing, customer service and dealing with difficult customers including bad payers. Safety and welfare issues will be discussed. This module also covers insurance, legal responsibilities and legislation applying to equine behaviour consultants eg relating to Contract, Professional Negligence, Duty of Care and Trading Standards etc, taught by lawyers with extensive experience of equine related litigation, Business and IT Consultants, plus the advantages of SEBC Registration and CPD. 

Trainees are welcome to bring in video clips of their own or friends’ horses for class discussion in any module. Some of the most interesting questions start with ‘My horse…’!

Application Procedure

The course is designed for people with both practical experience of working with horses and appropriate people skills, wishing to proceed to professional qualification (PTC) and registration with SEBC as an Equine Behaviour Consultant. The Course also provides specialist training on the safe and humane management of horses and through improved understanding of horse behaviour and training techniques, safer and more efficient management and training in all disciplines.


Degree level qualifications in an appropriate animal science based subject such as equine studies, agriculture science, veterinary medicine, and other animal sciences such as biology, physiology, genetics etc or psychology, teaching etc and/or BHS instructing qualifications will be an advantage.

Applicants with sufficient professional experience in the horse industry, eg working as riding school / rehabilitation / livery yard or stud farm/competition grooms and managers, veterinary nurses, saddlers, farriers etc or horse owners with sufficient broad ranging practical experience with horses and relevant professional skills from other disciplines, such as teaching and education, nursing, law, childcare, social work, counselling, police work etc are also likely to be successful.

How to Apply

Applicants have to complete an application form and include two referees. The more information is provided, the more likely an application is to be successful. Each venue has its own form and administration procedure.

For the Warwickshire College and London Courses contact Sarah Clark on 07748 338 173 or email sarah@helpwithhorsebehaviour.co.uk

For the Kirkley Hall and Oatridge courses contact Ashley Anne Durie 07808 714 243 or email ashley@positive-equine.com and for further details see www.positive-equine.com.


Successful applicants will receive further information about the Course and be invited to register with payment to secure their place.

Unsuccessful applicants will be advised of the reasons why they were not offered a place on the course at this point and advised on the further qualifications or experience required before re-application is likely to be successful.

Fees and Dates

For current fees and course dates please check with the contact person listed above for the venue of your choice.


For more information about SEBC please visit www.sebc.org.uk


Call: 01899 221888 Write to: Dr Marsden, PO Box 8776, Biggar, ML12 6WL. Email: mdmequestrian@gmail.com
All material on this website is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without permission from Dr Marsden or Michelle Rushen.
© 2009-2019 Dr M D Marsden BSc PhD SEBC Reg Senior Consultant
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