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ISES 14th Equitation Science Conference – ISES 2018 Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Leigh Wills

Equus Education (NZ) Ltd

Leigh Wills is the founder and director of Equus Education (NZ) Ltd; innovators who specialise in understanding what is natural for the horse and how this can be incorporated within the Thoroughbred breeding and racing environment. Leigh is two times New Zealand national eventing title holder, and the first student to become a Monty Roberts Instructor worldwide. She is a writer of NZQA papers and an experienced international presenter.

Equus Education (NZ) Ltd created a foal education process and have completed over 18,000 training sessions without injury, with over 2,000 foals graduating from their programme. Their graduates have become million dollar yearlings in the sales ring and multiple group one winning racehorses.  

The studs they work with have experienced zero horse or human injuries when handling those foals that have graduated their education programme – a fact of which Equus Education are understandably very proud. The studs have also been able to shorten their weanling training programme considerably, saving time and money.

The success of a foal’s future racing career is underpinned by the communication and collaboration of all the parties involved in their well-being. The breeding industry is made up of many professionals that specialise in their field of expertise. Equus Education is an integral part; the behaviours the foals learn are the foundation on which their racing careers are built. Equus Education continue to learn and share knowledge as any change can only take place if the whole industry is committed.  

Leigh studied with Dr Andrew MacLean and collaborated with him, Massey University and Waikato University to present their findings at the ISES 2016 conference in France. For research, Equus Education have access to a large study group and are dependent upon collaborating with other academic institutions to fulfil their desire to understand more about young Thoroughbred foals. For 2017 they are collaborating with KU Leuven University to measure the mental states of mares and foals and the interaction between them.