Equitation Science Symposium Emphasizes Horse Welfare and Human Safety

Rein tension, saddle and seat pressure, training rewards and reinforcement, and the evaluation of stress and emotions in riding horses were some of the main topics at this year's International Equitation Science Symposium held July 31–Aug. 2 in Uppsala and Strömsholm, Sweden.

With the theme "Horse welfare and human safety: importance of learning, training, and education," the sixth annual symposium hosted equitation scientists and industry leaders, as well as riders and coaches, from around the world. Through more than 30 presentations, 40 posters, and a full day of practical demonstrations, participants were able to share knowledge and experiences in equitation science.

Equitation science is "an emerging discipline that combines learning theory, physics, and ethology to examine the salience and efficacy of horse-training techniques," according to Paul D. McGreevy, DVM, PhD, junior vice president of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES), which organized the three-day symposium.

The first day of the symposium focused on the mental and physical capacity of humans and horses for training and learning. On the second day, participants moved out of the conference halls and into to the Swedish National Equestrian Centre, where equitation science was applied with real horses and real riders. There demonstrations were given on young horse training and rider education as well as on the use of modern technology to study limb kinematics and detect lameness. Back to theory on the third day, presentations emphasized rider safety and horse welfare.

"Equitation science is a growing field within equine research," said Mari Zetterqvist Blokhuis, chair of the ISES 2010 Local Organizing Committee. "It is exciting to be able to gather so many specialists from all over the world (for this event)."

Check out TheHorse.com in coming days for more in-depth stories from the symposium.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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