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Principle Over Method

Our equestrian landscape has shifted in just the past 5 years. More digital, global, and aware of the truth about how horses feel, our connections to people and people to horses is fast and easy, because of technology. Thousands of followers on insta to building a community of like minded horse lovers on Facebook. New technology is the fabric of todays society. Yet despite these rapid technological shifts, the ‘thing’ that frightens equestrians today? Change.

Embracing a challenge, the equine students at the University of Guelph lit up change by focusing on the how, why, and challenges of change in equitation welfare. In its fourth year the Equine Industry Symposium themed ‘Change’ produced an inspired line up, from Canadian thought influencers to global agents of change, all connected through discussions, questions and inspiring views on being the change our horse need.

Invited to present ‘Be the Change Our Horses Need’ at the symposium, I departed England with not 1 but 2 suitcases. Embarking on a horse hearted adventure, Id packed for polar climates, -7 in Toronto and mid 20’s in Australia.

Following the Equine Industry Symposium I flew to Equitation Science International (ESI) Victoria, Australia for a 2 day ESI Graduates Symposium. Hosted by Dr Andrew McLean, Mauela McLean, Sophie Wylie and Helen Godfrey delegates arrived from New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania. Two full days packed with training updates, shared experiences, exercises and equipment to optimise horse and human behavioural change. Training to Grand Prix with advanced in-hand coaching (shoulder-in, traver, half-pass, pirouettes and piaffe) the two days grew, developed and enriched me.

On Day 1 I presented 'Communication & Collaboration' and discussed how are choices matter as much as what we know, sharing my love of the cult film, The Matrix. Now 20 years old, if you've not seen The Matrix is a world that has been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth. Given a choice, the blue pill, means Neo (Keanu Reeves) wakes feeling the same as today, tomorrow. The red pill he see's for himself the truth. Choosing the ‘red pill’ is my symbol for choosing truth, nothing more.

Once we’ve seen the truth, we can never un-see or un-know. The ‘red pill’ represents wanting to know the truth about horses the truth about how horses actually feel. What we know matters but I believe who we are matters more. Knowing better, doing better can only be achieved if we look at who we are. Our beliefs feed our behaviours, and our behaviours our shaped by our reinforcement history. The horse training 'red pill' is choosing awareness. Aware of how our horses feel, I believe, is the start of being the change our horses need us to be.

The Matrix, a neuro interactive simulation or computer programme that people function in every day. That is the truth in the film. ‘The matrix of equestrianism’ is the usual horse training suspects and the ‘red pill?’...

Equitation Science

The 10 First Horse Training Principles have been revised twice in the past 5 years, in our quest to optimise horse training. Designed to help all horse lovers assess pros and cons of all horse training methods, do you watch a training method, trainer or coach and ask...

What's in it for the horse?

At the ESI graduates symposium this weekend in Melbourne we discussed different horse training beliefs, just like our spectrum of political beliefs/views. What are your horse training views?

Left wing, right wing or centre?

Equitation Science can only show you the door. You have to want to walk through it.

Thank you to Dr Karina Merkies and her brilliant organising committee at the University of Guelph for making me feel so welcome, I was blown away by the delegates passion for the 'red pill' for sure I will be coming back for clinics, lectures and workshops. If you wish to host or attend a clinic in Canada in 2020, email

Another huge thank you to the ESI team in Australia and all the ESI graduates I met or caught up with, you are all the change our horses need and I can't wait for our next update, just have to be patient and wait another 2 years :-)

Lisa x


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