02 Aug Equitation Science – Learning from Dr Andrew McLean
“They say that if you’re working on a problem that can be solved within your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.”
Dr Andrew McLean is always thinking big and he is forever curious. It makes dinner table conversation diverse and always very interesting, and made for some great discussion when on the first morning of his latest trip to Perth we took delivery of two hives of bees! Of course as well as being a world renowned expert in equine behaviour, it turns out he has also co-authored a paper on bee cognition, amongst other things. There is always so much to learn.
Dr McLean is widely considered one of the leading academic experts on horse training. He is most known for his work in behaviour modification in sport horses but has also developed successful foundation training programs for working elephants which have been implemented throughout Asia through his co-founded charity foundation, Human-Elephant Learning Programs (www.H-ELP.org). He has also had a strong competitive career winning Australia’s premier Horse Trials in 1989, the Gawler 3DE, as well as being on the Australian team later that year. He was shortlisted for the WEG in Stockholm and has competed to Grand Prix in both Dressage and Show-jumping.Equitation Science is a relatively new field of science, and one of the many reasons we love it is because it helps us to make objective decisions about training and management in order to optimise welfare. Andrew’s work has been at the forefront – not only discovering but also disseminating this information to improve safety and welfare across the globe.During his trip to Perth last month we were lucky to spend a few days working and presenting with him. His seminar for Equestrian WA was well attended with over 350 spectators and this was followed by a full-day workshop for Riding for the Disabled discussing horse training, safety and working on problem behaviours.
It was a privilege to ride our young thoroughbred, Ascendant, owned by Jane and Stephen Lamond and ourselves, for Andrew during his presentation for EWA to show the correct re-training of an off the track thoroughbred. Ascendant, or Halo to his friends, found his first ride in an indoor arena challenging but showed his great temperament and clear training as he settled in to do some fantastic work for a young and inexperienced horse. We couldn’t have been prouder of him!
We are so lucky to have opportunities to work with Andrew and we are looking forward to meeting up with him again in October to embark on some more elephant training in Asia. No time is wasted that is spent improving welfare.
For more information on Equitation Science visit www.sustainableequitation.com.au or check out our book Horses Hate Surprise Parties: Equitation Science for Young (and not-so-young!) Riders.It’s always great fun working with Andrew with our horses at home to check that our training is on track and iron out any issues with a collaborative approach. It feels like riding in the company of royalty with Dr Andrew McLean and Dr Portland Jones both watching on! Above, Codebreaker enjoys some jumping under their watchful eyes.