Horsemanship: conventional, natural and equitation science

Goodwin, Deborah, McGreevy, Paul, Waran, Natalie and McClean, Andrew (2008) Horsemanship: conventional, natural and equitation science. In, Murphy, Jack, Hennessy, Karen, Wall, Patrick and Hanly, Pat (eds.) Conference Proceedings: ISES Dublin 2008. International Society for Equitation Science: 4th International Conference. ISES Dublin 2008. International Society for Equitation Science: 4th International Conference Dublin, Ireland, Ireland, International Society for Equitation Science, p.51.


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Many cultures have trained horses using conventional approaches and acknowledged a talent for working with horses as natural horsemanship. The current popularity of “Natural Horsemanship” has prompted change in the equestrian industry. These changes extend from individuals to conventional training organizations. Academic ethologists were interested in these developments, but expressed concern at the way some Natural Horsemanship trainers presented “Equine Ethology”. Often personal opinions were claimed as facts, without any associated objective study of horse behaviour in the natural or domestic environment. Good Natural Horsemanship trainers are talented observers of horse behaviour and respond precisely to subtle cues during training. They have demonstrated their ability to utilize the marketplace and teach their methods for commercial reward. Unfortunately, not all followers of these methods are as effective as the originating trainers. Poor technique can lead to disappointing result, frustration and reduced safety in practitioners, and result in abuse, confusion and conflict behavior in horses. The success of Natural Horsemanship trainers encouraged scientists studying horse behaviour and training to be more active in communicating their work to horse owners and trainers. Science has much to offer in advancing techniques in horse training and reducing wastage by objectively assessing what does and does not work, and most importantly, why? Calibrated rein tension gauges and pressure sensitive pads can measure the strength and frequency of rider’s signals to the horse. Riders and trainers can integrate technology into their training methods to measure contact and lightness objectively. Assessment of welfare and performance is increasingly possible via a range of physiological and behavioural measures. Equitation scientists, conventional and Natural Horsemanship trainers aim to help people train horses more effectively. It is critical that we share our knowledge to achieve these goals because, when training fails, horses suffer and may pay the ultimate price with their lives.

Item Type: Book Section
Related URLs:
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
Q Science > QL Zoology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Psychology > Division of Cognition
ePrint ID: 63512
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
August 2008Published
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:48

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