Revisiting the Dominance Debate recently shared a link to the International Society for Equitation Science‘s Position statement on the use/misuse of leadership and dominance concepts in horse training, a very important topic in equine welfare! While it isn’t new, I am happy to see it making the rounds again, as some trainers base their techniques on dominance hierarchies. […]

Ethogram of the Ridden Horse Part 3: Common Methods of Behavioural Interpretation

The training of horses relies on their tractability and the ability to extinguish or overshadow their innate inter- and intra-species behaviours, such as flight and sexual behaviours (McDonnell, 2003).  In the process, desired innate and learned behaviours are shaped and modified to suit human desires for sport, show, performance, and leisure, training horses to perform […]

Ethogram of the Ridden Horse Part 2: The Facial Expression Ethogram

“If a measure is to be useful as a welfare indicator it must be valid (meaningful in relation to animal welfare), reliable (produce consistent results when used by different observers/scorers) and feasible (practical for contemporaneous assessment in the field)” (Waran and Randle, 2017, p.75). The recently developed facial expression ethogram of ridden horses can aid […]

Ethogram of the Ridden Horse Part 1: Introduction

Equitation science and applied ethology, that is, the scientific study of horse behaviour in the human domain (McGreevy & McLean, 2007), can greatly reduce risks related to human-horse interactions while simultaneously enhancing equine welfare with an effective, evidence-based approach to training and riding based on the natural and adaptive behaviours of horses, their specific behavioural […]

The Smiling Horse, The Lazy Horse & The Misbehaving Horse

an·thro·po·mor·phism: the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to an animal or object. It is important to distinguish between two types of anthropomorphism. One is fairly innocent and may merely be used as a way to relate to animals, that is, the projection of what may be perceived by some as being strictly human emotional […]

The Potential Perils of Natural Horsemanship Part 2: Natural for whom? Challenging the myths 

The second part of The Potential Perils of Natural Horsemanship challenges some common beliefs inherent in the practice of natural horsemanship. The ‘alpha’ & the dangers of dominance “Dominance hierarchies, alpha positions or leadership in social groups of horses are man-made concepts that should not form the basis of human-horse interactions” (International Society for Equitation Science, […]