Equitation Science is the measurement and interpretation of interactions between horses and their riders.
— Equitation Science (2010) Andrew McLean and Paul McGreevy
Equitation science is very exciting because it is bringing the advances of the training of most other animals into the horse world. Dog trainers, dolphin trainers, cat trainers almost without exception use Learning Theory.
Horse trainers are stuck in the world of tradition and trial-and-error.
Tradition is not a bad thing. The best horse trainers and riding coaches are already applying the principles of Learning Theory; that is why their training and teaching works. ‘Horse whisperers’, instructors, and the great modern trainers have made huge advances in the availability of horse knowledge.
But this is better.
What we can measure we can track, and what we track we can understand, and when we understand something we can explain it to others.
Equitation science opens up a conversation about how we can ethically use, train, and keep horses without subjecting them to abuse, accidental or not, so the horse industry does not tarnish its reputation.
Coaches can now teach their students how their horse thinks and learns, because when the student understands how the horse thinks about situations, they are much safer and can train the horse to become safer as well.
Trainers can put the tools into their clients’ hands to continue their horses training so the horse’s confusion is reduced and their welfare improved.
Science improves our ability to understand what we do with our horses and how we do it so we can get the best out of ourselves and our horses in the least invasive way possible.