2013 ISES Conference Scheduled for July 18-20

The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) has announced its 9th annual conference with the theme of “Embracing Science to Enhance Equine Welfare and Horse-Human Interactions” will be hosted jointly by the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, July 18-20, 2013.

This premier event will allow over 200 equine scientists, veterinarians, applied ethologists, advanced practitioners (horse trainers, instructors, and riders), advanced students pursuing equine science degrees, and influential stakeholders in the equine industry to come together to present and discuss equitation science research. It will focus on ways of improving horse training as well as encouraging the development of science-based criteria to measure the welfare of the horse in its interactions with humans.

The conference will be opened by Camie Heleski, PhD, a leading equitation science expert and instructor and coordinator of the 2-year Ag Tech Horse Management Program at Michigan State University (MSU). Heleski has been involved with ISES from its conception in 2005 to ISES becoming an official society in 2007; she continues to serve as an ISES council officer and is co-chair for this year’s conference. Heleski has conducted work in learning theory with both horses and donkeys and is passionate about her work specializing in working equids in developing parts of the world.

“Our overarching theme for the 2013 ISES conference is ‘Embracing science to enhance horse-human interactions,’ " Heleski said. "I am especially excited about one of our sub-themes: getting the message out about equitation science and learning theory. In other words, how we can capitalize on outreach and education methods to inform people about the value and importance of equitation science. Whilst conducting the research is extremely important, we must also make sure we get information to the stake holders at the front line of the horse industry.”

Conference co-chair organizer Carissa Wickens, PhD, is an assistant professor and Equine Extension Specialist, also at MSU. Wickens states, “It has been a tremendous honor to organize the 9th International Society for Equitation Science Conference in collaboration with Camie Heleski, Professor Sue McDonnell (PhD, Certified AAB, of the University of Pennsylvania), Angelo Telatin (of Delaware Valley College), Professor Sarah Ralston (VMD, PhD, Dipl. ACVN, of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), and Amy McLean, PhD (North Carolina State University). We are extremely excited to be jointly hosting the conference at the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania, and I am looking forward to networking with colleagues and students to discuss opportunities and strategies for incorporating equitation science into the classroom and into our equine extension and outreach efforts.”

Keynote speakers for the 9th International Society for Equitation Science Conference will include:

  • Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, DACVSMR, MRCVS—Research on the Rider-Saddle-Horse Interface
  • Jan Ladewig, DVM, PhD—What about the other 23 hours? How does what we do during the other hours when we are not training impact behavior and welfare?
  • Andrew McLean, PhD, and Paul McGreevy, BVSc, MRCVS, PhD, MACVSc—Arousal, Affective State, and Attachment

Clayton is the McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University. “I enjoy the ISES Conferences because they bring together a group of people from all over the world who are interested in the science that underlies the relationship between horse and rider in sport," she says. "As the horse is unable to speak for itself, it is important for scientists to investigate and study the horse-human interface as impacted through training and management so that improvements in equestrian performance can be achieved without risk of compromising the horse's health or welfare.”

One of the goals of ISES is to bridge the gap between the latest scientific research in the equine academic world and equine industry practice. Practical demonstrations will take place during the 2013 ISES Conference Practical Day which will be held at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. Themes for the practical day will include:

  • Is it Physical? Psychological? Or both?
  • Development of the Equid Ethogram
  • Applied Learning Theory
  • Fair Training Practices in Action

McDonnell, a certified applied animal behaviorist and head of the Equine Behavior Program at the New Bolton Center, will deliver a presentation on the development of the equine ethogram (a catalogue of all behaviors or actions exhibited by horses) and host a tour of the semi-feral pony herd.

Telatin, an assistant professor at Delaware Valley College, will demonstrate how riding and handling horses can be enhanced when integrated with the knowledge of learning theory by jumping a horse bridleless and showing how tasks such as clipping and giving a horse injections can be simplified by giving the horse a choice to perform a desired behavior.

Throughout the ISES Conference delegates will have ample opportunities to:

  • Connect and network with ISES members during breaks, poster discussions, and dinners in order to exchange ideas and foster research cooperation;
  • Seek guidance with the application of the principles and practices of equitation science for individuals own equestrian practices;
  • Attend clinics conducted by equine behaviorists and practitioners demonstrating practical equitation that is in line with scientific principles of training and learning; and
  • Discuss strategies to enhance the cooperation between scientists, animal welfare activists, equestrian riders, trainers, coaches, industry and government representatives, and international leaders in sport across the sector.

Conference organizers suggest attendees plan extra time to enjoy sightseeing along the East Coast, "a beautiful and historical region of the country with a strong appreciation for the horse industry."

Abstract submissions have now closed with abstract sub themes to be determined after review of abstracts is completed.

Save money and take full advantage of the Early Bird registration at a reduced price by booking online before May 15, 2013. Attendance at the practical day will be limited by space, so early registration is encouraged and priority will be given to delegates also attending the 2-day scientific program.

For registration and further information about the conference and associated events, please visit www.equitationscience.com/upcoming.

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