Two additions have been made to the First Principles of Training set out by the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES)
The revised and expanded list now explicitly emphasises the need to train within the horse’s behavioural scope and mental limits.
The first additional principle states: “Train according to the horse’s ethology and cognition.”
The other addition urges trainers, riders and handlers, regardless of their discipline or overall training philosophy or approach, to be aware of the minimum levels of arousal required in order to achieve training aims and goals.
It states: “Demonstrate minimum levels of arousal sufficient for training to ensure the absence of conflict”.
The additions join the 10 existing principles listed by the society, which it considers to be non-negotiable obligations for trainers to maintain optimal welfare in trained horses, as well as optimal training efficiency.
The director of the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre, Dr Andrew McLean, discussed the principles with delegates at the society’s 11th conference, which has just finished in Vancouver, Canada.
The society developed the First Principles of Training in 2011 to encourage the use of approaches to horse training that were welfare friendly and that took into account the ability, and limitations, of the horse.
They are based on how the horse learns, and are designed to promote and enhance the welfare of horses in their interactions with humans.
The society says the principles are based on objective, evidence-based research and a thorough understanding of the horse.
The approach it advocates takes into account the horse’s behaviour, and psychology, its mental abilities and its physical structure, including its anatomy, physiology and biomechanics.
The society emphasised that equitation science was not a training method, but a method of training that fully recognized the physical and psychological abilities and limitations of the horse regardless of breed, conformation and temperament or intended purpose of the animal.
McLean, told conference delegates that the training principles were an evolving set of guidlines that would be regularly reviewed to ensure they were fit for purpose.