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
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About Dr Debbie Marsden

Brief Biography

Internationally 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 from the University of Edinburgh, where she was invited to stay and join a prestigious research team as their equine behaviour specialist.

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 equestrian experience to contribute to the development of the applied science that is popularly known as equine 'behaviourism’, and trains people wanting to work as Equine Behviour Consultants.   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.

Debbie says;

“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, a SEBC Chief Examiner and am currently Chair of this Professional Body.
  • 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 with horses (see Section g), with additional professional qualifications including British Horse Society qualified Riding Instructor (BHSPTC), BHS Accredited Professional Coach, ‘Ride Safe’ (Riding and Road Safety) and Challenge Award Trainer for recreational riders, and Riding for the Disabled Association Group Instructor (RDAGI), with over 20 years professional experience teaching riding regularly along with equine behaviour consulting work in a huge variety of stables, so 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. This 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, stable management, safety, training and welfare. Feasibility studies and finding practical solutions to problems in commercial establishments.

f) Writing scientific articles and books on 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’ a book for horse owners published by Allens (2005) and the chapter on ‘Stereotypic and other Behavior Problems’ in the specialist veterinary textbook Equine Neurology’, edited by Furr and Reed, Blackwell (2008), referee for scientific publications and assist equestrian journalists with articles for popular equestrian magazines.

g) Speaking at major UK and international scientific and veterinary conferences & equestrian industry meetings including 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, working in all sorts of stables (including for dealers, a racing yard, several riding schools and a trekking centre) in my youth and student days, still riding for fun and judge (dressage and show classes) at local level.

‘MDM Equestrian’ is an Equestrian Consultancy Practice, giving practical advice to horse owners on horse behaviour, housing, care, stable management, and safety and training, including a referral clinic for vets requiring specialist second opinion and treatment of behaviour problems in clients’ horses. Ride and train horses and coach handlers / riders as required.

Over 20 years experience of Equestrian Expert Witness work, currently listed in the ‘vetted’ and checked UK register of Expert Witnesses.


Calm and Relaxed HorseAgitated HorseYou 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!

Debbie Marsden Logo

Call: 01899 221888 Write to: Dr Marsden, PO Box 8776, Biggar, ML12 6WL. Email: mdmequestrian@gmail.com
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