Equitation Science

While scrolling my Facebook newsfeed this morning, I noticed a question from Hippologic,  What horse book would you like to recommend to experienced equestrians? Two books immediately came to mind, Equine Behaviour by Paul McGreevy and Equitation Science by Paul McGreevy & Andrew McLean

It also ties into a question asked in the Equine Industry course I recently completed, What’s new in equine research and how will this be helpful?  Is there research that can help other areas of the industry for the future?

The most exciting developments in equine research for me are occurring in equitation science and learning theory. While I greatly value the indispensable knowledge and skills that have been gained through veterinary medicine to treat and prevent injuries and illness, thereby reducing the incidence of horse euthanasia, I personally believe the greatest gains from a welfare perspective are related to advances made in understanding the cognitive abilities of the horse.

With a deeper understanding of equine behaviour, perception and learning processes, we can develop and apply more species-appropriate methods for the management and training of horses. Strides made in recognizing and working within these parameters and understanding the behaviourial and health effects of housing and training will undoubtedly improve other areas of horse health and welfare.  

Research undertaken and funded by the International Society for Equitation Science promotes the acquisition of research-related knowledge and skills through:

  • Increasing the effectiveness of education and policy in relation to equine welfare;
  • Enhancing equine quality of life in relation to associations with humans; and
  • Fostering the development of enhanced awareness of ethical training methods

Specific areas of focus are:

  • Ethical equine training
  • Improved equine behaviour and welfare
  • Improved understanding of human–equine interaction
  • Facilitating equitation science education
  • Development of horse research methods and techniques

It’s a fascinating area of study which has indispensable value for everyone involved in the equine industry, humans and horses alike.

Out of curiosity, I had purchased the Equitation Science book a couple of years ago. I read a few chapters and then got lost in some of the concepts and language. Now that I’ve taken a few courses through Equine Guelph and read Equine Behaviour, I’ve revisited it and am finding it much easier to comprehend.  

I think the Principles of Learning Theory that McGreevy & McLean developed, which have since evolved, are of the utmost importance for anyone who trains horses.