On the Shoulders of Giants - Looking to the Past to Direct the Future


As we move forward with Equitation Science research, we do so on the shoulders of those enlightened pioneers who have gone before, whose lessons we can build upon in our quest to improve horse welfare, training and management.

In equitation, who are these influential Giants and what have they contributed? This question will be put to some of the most senior and well-respected Equitation Science Fellows in a unique workshop which will kick-off ISES 2017 Down Under, this year’s International Equitation Science conference in Wagga Wagga NSW. They will be asked to introduce their own ‘Giants’, allowing delegates to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the long history of human-horse interactions.

The workshop will be chaired by ISES Fellow Professor Natalie Waran, PhD, who says: “Whilst the Giants of the past may not have always questioned the ‘science behind their practice’, they can provide rich information to help develop techniques and approaches which can be robustly tested using an evidence based methodology.”

Using the texts of the ancient Greek writer Xenophon as one example, Waran explains how his teachings introduce concepts such as structured habituation of a young horse to frightening things, reassurance as opposed to punishment, and an acceptance of the expression of positive emotions in horses, all of these being important research areas in the field of Equitation Science. And, whilst not all aspects of these early teachings will stand up to our modern notions of equine welfare, lessons learned help us shape the future.

It is hoped that the audience will participate and the ensuing discussion/debate will help the group as a whole to choose for themselves three key Giants, and to decide what their influence has been and how we can build upon their teachings.

The workshop is just one of many thought-provoking sessions to inspire and get ideas flowing. It will set the scene for a lively and stimulating conference designed to discuss the concepts of collaboration, communication and change in the field of Equitation Science.

Join us in Wagga Wagga this November for ISES 2017 Down Under and hear for yourself from international researchers as they present their latest findings in a unique environment of like-minded equine enthusiasts.

The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. Find out more at:

For more information contact:

ISES Hon. President
Camie Heleski, PhD

Media Enquiries:

ISES Media Officer:
Kate Fenner