This week, the spotlight is on the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES). This non-profit organization and membership pool encourages international scientific research and study of horse training to improve the horse-and-rider interaction. It promotes Equitation Science: a multidisciplinary, evidence- and science-based approach to understanding the welfare of the horse during training and use.
There is a conference annually in different locations around the world, and each year there is a slightly different theme. Top researchers from leading institutions in equine science gather to present research from themselves and student, give talks, and have question-and-answer panels on the issues of focus. It is an incredible opportunity to meet scientists and equine enthusiasts from all around the world, and gain perspective on how the equine industry is changing. There is strong emphasis on student research, where university-level students have the opportunity to present their own research. The local organizing committee also organizes outings in the area of the conference. These can be farm tours, racing facilities, breeding farms, schools, veterinary centers, training barns for Olympic trainers and riders, and notable equine-related places.
There is research on donkey welfare with its use in African countries, use of nosebands in dressage, bit fit and use, saddle pressure and fit, humane feeding and stabling practices, rein pressure, and welfare of the sport horse. With an added emphasis of education, they also encourage university students to perform and present their own research as well. Technological developments also come to light at the conferences; rein tension devices to measure rider hand pressure have come light-years in development. Pads that measure saddle pressure distribution and fit, biomechanical analyzing tools, x-rays for bit fitting, and more.
I personally have gone to two conferences so far: Netherlands in 2011 (“Equitation Science: Principles and Practices – Science at work ”), and Delaware USA in 2013 (“Embracing science to enhance equine welfare and horse-human interactions”). The networking connections launched me into the career path I’m involved in with equine science. I have met so many fascinating people from all over the world, all of them excited to see young people involved. This is an incredible organization, full of amazing people who want to see horses better understood by people who interact with them.