About Dr Debbie Marsden
IInternationally recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in her field, Dr Debbie Marsden’s success in dealing with equine behaviour problems is based on the highest level of academic and professional qualifications combined with a lifetime’s experience of looking after and working with horses.
She rode for junior National Teams before graduating with a BSc (Hons in Physiology and Genetics) and a PhD in Animal Behaviour, Husbandry and Welfare.
During her many years as a Fellow of the University of Edinburgh attached to the Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, investigating the causes of equine behaviour problems and teaching vets wishing to further specialise in horses, Debbie combined her academic knowledge and practical experience to contribute to the development of the applied science that is popularly known as ‘equine behaviourism’. Debbie now runs her own consultancy company, trading as MDM Equestrian, dealing with equine behaviour problems and advising vets, lawyers and horse owners on all aspects of horse behaviour, management and training, with clients including the MOD (The Defence Animal Centre and Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment), the RSPCA, the BHS and major insurance companies.
She still rides for fun and as a qualified riding instructor runs performance clinics and teaches regularly, helping riders at all levels improve, get the best from and enjoy their horses.
“I was extremely lucky growing up with horses in N Ireland to enjoy a huge variety of equestrian experience. Apparently, I constantly strayed into the horse’s fields as a toddler and told those who would try to drag me away that ‘it was all right for me to stay there as they were my friends’. I accompanied my farrier grandfather in the school holidays, visiting all sorts of yards and seeing how many different ways there were of doing most things equestrian. I did all the usual Pony Club things, and had the benefit of lessons from visiting English and German dressage Instructors. I was thrilled to finally have my very own pony at the age of 8. He was a 13:2 jet black Arab and only 4 years old himself. He taught me a great deal – mostly about what not to do! We raked the countryside at every available opportunity visiting local shows, collecting ribbons and prize money to earn our keep! Later I rode for a variety of owners, including a local racehorse trainer, various probably rather ‘dodgy’ dealers (not that I knew that at the time of course!) and a lady who grew up in Argentina and trained her horses the ‘Gaucho’ way. I was so keen that I rode anything I was offered, including the ‘problem’ ponies and horses that others sensibly declined to get on, was proud to represent PC and NI in various teams and eventually was rewarded by being able to help to bring on quality young horses for their owners and compete at National level showjumping and IHTS eventing. I had no idea at the time how immensely valuable all this was all going to be in my future career. I have since had the benefit of being taught by those who were world leaders in their field and the further luxury of travelling myself, meeting wonderful people and their horses, lecturing at Universities, Veterinary Schools and speaking at major scientific conferences all over the world, in between skiving off for a ride and having a nose around the local stables. My mother is still hoping I will ‘grow out of it’ but the horse bug in me is here to stay! They are still my friends and I have dedicated my life to helping others understand them better and improving their lot.”
Dr Debbie Marsden C.V. Summary
- SEBC (Society of Equine Behaviour Consultants) Registered Senior Consultant Category B and a SEBC Chief Examiner 2012 - currently.
- Director MDM Equestrian Consultancy Company 1999 – currently.
- Fellow of University of Edinburgh attached to Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies 1994 – 2002, lecturing and consulting in Equine Behaviour and Management.
- Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship 1990 – 1994 (Effects of Housing and Management on Behaviour Problems in Horses) Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.
- PhD Degree1989 (Effects of Husbandry, Housing and Management on Animal Behaviour and Welfare – Practical Solutions) University of Edinburgh.
- BSc Degree1984 (Agricultural Science, with Honours in Physiology and Genetics, specialising in Animal Behaviour) University of Edinburgh.
Plus a lifetime’s practical experience of horses (see Section g), British Horse Society qualified Riding Instructor (BHSPTC Regd), Riding for the Disabled Association Group Instructor (RDAGI) and a BHS approved Riding and Road Safety Trainer, with over 20 years professional experience teaching riding every week and equine behaviour consulting work in a huge variety of stables, therefore fully up to date with a broad range of industry standards and common practices.
Professional experience includes;
a) Providing Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) required training for Veterinary Inspectors of Riding Establishmentsand other CPD courses for qualified veterinarians wishing to further specialise in horses, such as the Diagnosis and Treatment of Equine Behaviour Problems and Practical Behaviour and Safe handling of Horses.
The RCVS required course for Inspectors of Riding Establishments includes training on adequacy of facilities and assessment of the competence of the proprietors and staff to meet the needs of the horses in their care, the selection, training, management and allocation of suitable horses appropriate for their clients’ riding abilities and to provide for their own safety, that of their clients and the general public.
b) University lecturing
in the UK and overseas on horse behaviour, providing and supervising practical thesis projects
at all levels (HND-MSc-DVM&S), specialising in management, training, and safety around horses, including effects of housing, husbandry and management on equine behaviour, External Examiner
for MSc Equine Science course at Writtle College and Validation Panel
(2015) for new Equine Science Degrees.
c) Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons sub-committee for the Veterinary Inspection of Riding Establishments, serving 6 years.
d) SEBC accredited Professional Training for Equine Behaviour Consultants and Equine CPD for AHVLA (‘Ministry’) Vets and Equine Behaviour Consultants.
e) Research and consultancy work for a number of organisations including the RSPCA, the BHS (British Horse Society), MOD (Household Cavalry, Defence Animal Centre), BBC Watchdog, other TV and film companies and major insurance companies, advising on horse behaviour, management, safety, training and welfare. Finding practical solutions to problems in commercial establishments.
f) Writing scientific articles and bookson the topic of horse behaviour, management and training, including the ‘Behavior Problem’ section in the major veterinary textbook ‘Equine Medicine and Surgery’, 5th Ed. Colahan, Mayhew, Merritt and Moore, Mosby (1999), ‘How Horses Learn’ Allens (2005)’ the chapter on ‘Stereotypic and other Behavior Problems’ in the veterinary textbook Equine Neurology’, edited by Furr and Reed, Blackwell (2008), referee for scientific publications, assist equestrian journalists and regularly contribute to articles in popular equestrian magazines.
g) Speaking at major UK and International scientific and veterinary conferences & industry meetings eg BHS Proprietors of Riding Establishments & RDA Coaching Conferences, and talks to Riding Clubs and all sorts of horsy groups on horse behaviour, management, safety and training.
h) A lifetime’s practical experience of horses and stable management, riding (since age 4) from Pony Club teams to National level competition for various owners, eventing, show-jumping and dressage to music, starting ie ‘breaking’ and bringing on young horses, training and re-schooling ‘difficult’ horses. I have worked in all sorts of stables including for dealers, a racing yard, several riding schools and a trekking centre in my youth and student days and am now regularly invited to judge at local level.
‘MDM Equestrian’ is an Equestrian Consultancy Practice, giving practical advice to horse owners on horse behaviour, housing, care and stable management, and safety and training, including a referral clinic for vets requiring specialist second opinion and treatment of behaviour problems in clients’ horses. I still ride and retrain horses and coach handlers/ riders as required. I have over 20 years experience of Equestrian Expert Witness work and am currently listed in the ‘vetted’ and checked UK register of Expert Witnesses.
You may be interested to know that the MDM Equestrian logo is an equine EEG brainwave pattern going from highly agitated to calm and relaxed. Debbie chose this to represent the effect she aims to have on horses and their owners!