Welcome to Evidence-based Horsemanship. EBH is the idea that best practices for horsemanship and stockmanship are optimized when based on sound empirical and scientific evidence. The goal of EBH is to avoid unsound and antiquated practices in favor of those that correspond with the animal’s nervous system and natural functioning. This would be a shift away from unquestioned traditions, myth and “word of mouth” to an approach that is firmly grounded in neuroscience and empirical and research supported evidence.
There have been important figures in the past that have started the movement in this direction by knowing there were better ways of interacting with our horses. New approaches stand on the shoulders of those individuals. But even the ideas of “giving the horse the best deal” were based on a human’s thoughts of what constituted the best deal for the horse.
We can now perform brain scans (MRI and CT), investigate electrical activity in the brain (EEG) and measure stress levels and changes in the autonomic nervous system (variable heart rate monitors.) In other words, the horse can actually tell us when they are getting a good deal!
There has been an explosion in scientific information in the past few years with exponential growth. EBH combines this evolving body of scientific research with empirical data and understanding of the nervous system/brain functioning to improve our communication and relationship with our animals (more recently including stockmanship and cattle handling.)
There will always be new discoveries and proven better and more informed ways of doing things. This does not mean doing away with the past but just using what works and what works best. EBH is the “why” behind the how in horsemanship. It allows our actions to be informed. Without evolving knowledge, we would stagnate.
So, join us in our continued neuroscientific exploration into horses and cattle. We will all benefit with less stress to us and our animals.