2012 Equitation Science Conference Deemed a Success

The 8th annual International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conference, hosted by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, from July 18-20, 2012, provided an international forum in which scientists and professional practitioners communicated and discussed the results of research relating to training, management, and the performance of the horse. The successful conference was attended by more than 250 delegates from over 15 countries and was sponsored by Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the World Dressage Masters foundation.

Fittingly held prior to the 2012 Olympic games in London, the annual equine training, behavior, and welfare conference attracted international scientists and practitioners speaking on themes including the sustainable equine athlete from both physical and psychological aspects, the science and measurement of rider inputs, and horse welfare, among others. The three day conference with more than 35 spoken presentations and 140 poster presentations discussed current and future use of technological advances for enabling better measurement of the ways in which horse and rider interact during equestrian activities and so improve methods used for coaching riders and training horses. (Editor's Note: Keep an eye on TheHorse.com for coverage of selected presentations from ISES 2012.)

Highlights included a plenary lecture from U.K.-based veterinarian Sue Dyson, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS, who spoke on physical aspects of the sustainable athlete by discussing the conformation of the sport horse, in particular looking at the nitty-gritty such as coronary band shapes and hock angles. Other lectures were provided by:

  • Andy Hemmings, MSc, from the Royal Agricultural College who discussed research goals for the next decade and beyond;
  • Lesley Hawson, BSc., BVSc, from Australia and Inga Wolframm, PhD, from Germany, who both spoke on rider aspects of the horse-human relationship;
  • Lars Roepstorff, DVM, PhD, from Sweden who spoke about the latest technology kit available for measuring variables in equitation;
  • International dressage rider Wayne Channon, who gave a very interesting plenary on the future of equestrian sports; and
  • Andrew McLean, PhD, BSc, from the Australian Equine Behavior Centre, who gave a plenary from a historical perspective, looking in particular at the roles of objectivity vs. subjectivity in equine training and solving behavioral problems in equine behavior modification.

The final practical day was held at the Scottish National Equestrian Centre in West Lothian and allowed for scientific work to be put into practice. The audience members were given demonstrations of the use of rein tension meters, saddle pressure mats, bio measures of horse and rider and even eye tracking equipment for carriage horse drivers. Three time Olympian and Olympic dressage team member for the London Olympics Richard Davison was on hand as the chairperson for what was an excellent opportunity for equine scientists and practitioners to discuss the road ahead for the use of the horse in sport and leisure.

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