Ethical equitation - promoting performance and positive partnerships through evidence-informed practice

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference


Equestrianism is popular worldwide, with millions of horses and riders participating in competitive horse sports and non-competitive leisure riding. Horse riders, owners and trainers are responsible for the management of their horses and have a duty of care to engage in practices which optimise equine health and welfare, and that promote ethical equitation approaches. However, many of the common practices and approaches used in the management and training of horses are often founded on tradition, based on anecdotal suggestions from peers, and/or trial and error learning during our own experiences with horses. The reliability of historic and anecdotal training practices used for the horse have been examined by equitation scientists for over a decade, and are now increasingly being challenged by the wider public. There is therefore a need for objective, evidence-informed practice in horse (and rider) training across all equestrian activities and sports. However, the horse-rider relationship is complex, with the experience of the owner/rider and the environment they are within influencing riding capabilities, decision-making and management of the health and welfare of the horses in their care. Developing and maintaining a strong positive horse-human partnership can promote optimal welfare, management, and performance. Conversely the breakdown of this relationship is often associated with deficits in equine management and training systems, and can compromise horse and rider safety. Added to this, the equestrian sector is complex, with multiple stakeholders and freely expressed perspectives, and whilst common goals do exist, at a user level, individuals can be invested in preserving the traditional approaches or prioritising change for their community. Despite this, horse people are commonly united by their love of the horse and the majority want to do the best they can for the horses in their care. However, they may not know what this is because they cannot access the latest research, or perhaps we as researchers are not always providing this information in a manner which encourages engagement from the wider equestrian sector. This presentation will focus on how we can succeed with science, exploring how industry and researchers can work together to engage in projects and promote effective dissemination to horse owners and trainers. Alongside this it will assess barriers that can preclude engagement from equestrian stakeholders, as well as evaluating how the human ‘animal’ can shape the horse-human relationship. Overall, it will showcase how adopting evidence-informed, ethical equitation and management practices can improve the partnerships we have with our horses, and can positively impact performance to ensure horses have a good life.
PeriodAug 2022
Event title18th International Society for Equitation Science Conference
Event typeConference
LocationGloucester, United KingdomShow on map