Examining the influence of cultural backgrounds on equestrians’ horse training approaches

L Andrzejewski, Lorna Cameron

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Introduction: A variety of research has been conducted in recent decades to investigate horse enthusiasts’ strategies and practices in the context of equine behaviour and welfare (Wolframm, Douglas & Pearson, 2023). However, the impact of multi-cultural factors on equestrians’ decision-making regarding training methods us particularly limited. Training approaches based on equine learning abilities have been enhanced by equine learning theory. Despite current educational and technological accessibility, global knowledge on training and learning theory is still a critical area for development and is often associated with other species (McLean & Christensen, 2017). Potential challenges to knowledge sharing for ‘best’ practices include socio-cultural factors, the practicality of a training method and the reliability of information about equine welfare (Hausberger, Lesimple & Henry, 2021). This study aimed to examine the influence of cultural backgrounds on horse training approaches, with the purpose of finding potential similarities or variances between individuals’ cultural backgrounds and their preferred training method.
Materials and Methods: Six semi-structured interview questions were selected to collect data adapted to the research question. Three semi-structured focus groups were interviewed online via MS Teams due to the international nature of this study and were held between January and March 2024. The interviews lasted between 10 and 18 minutes, as a total of nine voluntary equestrians participated in this study, representing the nationalities German, French, British, Canadian and Poland. The chosen approach to analysing the data was qualitative data analysis, as the structure of thematic analysis was followed to identify and compare themes found throughout each interview.
Results: The findings revealed a variety of possible interconnections, not only culturally, but other factors, such as the equine specific academic context of individuals (e.g., studying an equine degree). Themes found throughout the discussions include participants’ considering ridden work and/or handling as training, utilising horse-centred training approaches, identifying physiological issues, observing and comparing behavioural indicators, considering the horse as an individual, breed characteristics, theory versus practice, participants defining learning theory as well as lack of research. While participants displayed a level of agreement considering equine welfare and behaviour during training, knowledge of equine learning theory varied. Yet, limited understanding was not associated with participants’ cultural backgrounds. A key aspect referred to by participants was the preciseness of terminology, stating that equine learning theory is possibly applied subconsciously in practice, without the awareness of its scientific definition, possibly as a result of common insight.
Discussion and Conclusions: A variety of factors potentially play crucial roles impacting human-horse relationships due to variability in human decision-making. To understand the existing view on equine training approaches being used, or not used, it is important to understand cultural influences on these practices. These can include traditions, beliefs and effect of level of education, each underpinning opinions on what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The findings suggest that future research is needed to focus on cultural and educational contexts, to ultimately increase education on learning theory globally. The application of ethical training methods is essential to ensure the industry’s social licence to operate (SLO), especially considering the variety of disciplines and human effects, such as anthropomorphism, to provide a certain equine welfare standard during training daily (Hausberger, Lesimple & Henry, 2021).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2024
Event13th Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference - Hartpury University, Gloucester, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 May 20248 May 2024


Conference13th Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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