Podcast episode 46. The importance of agency and relationships: A conversation about enhancing the wellbeing of our horses with Bonny Mealand and Emily Kieson.

Carneddau ponies in the Sychnant Pass, Conwy.

I love all of my podcast episodes, but every now and again I get to record and be part of a conversation that I could have a profound influence on both me and other equestrians. This is one of those conversations.

Link to the episode https://www.buzzsprout.com/1975020/14968112

My guests on this episode are Bonny Mealand and Emily Kieson:
Bonny Mealand DEP MEPA

Bonny’s niche is trimming the hooves of wild horses, combining her extensive experience as an Equine Podiatrist , fascination with equine behaviour, and her skill as a trainer of the “untrainable”.

Her award winning work with the takhi (Equus ferus ssp.Przewalskii ) of the Highland Wildlife Park has been featured on BBC Inside the Zoo. She is a regular writer for the Concordia: A Voice for Horses magazine and runs courses teaching safe, low stress and effective handling techniques. Bonny is an advocate of ethological study and alongside Dr Emily Kieson runs “Learning Wild” equine behaviour courses. Having been involved for many years with both domestic as well as wild horses she is passionate about sharing the valuable information she has learnt and showing how inextricably linked these two worlds are.

Bonny is an enthusiastic Equine Science Masters student at The University of Edinburgh (Dick Vet). She volunteers as a welfare advisor for the BHS. She is a Somatic Yoga and Mindfulness teacher and a Retained Firefighter for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Web site – https://www.touchingwild.com/

Online Course – https://community-touchingwild.mn.co/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/touching_wild

Facebook (Learning Wild) – https://m.facebook.com/learning.wild.global/

Facebook (Touching Wild) – https://m.facebook.com/TouchingWild/

Emily Kieson PhD, MS, PgDip

Emily Kieson serves as Executive Director at Equine International, a US-based nonprofit focused on research, education, and outreach in the fields of equine behavior, welfare, and equine-human interactions.

Emily holds a PhD in Comparative Psychology, a MS in Psychology, and a graduate degree in Equine Science. She also holds multiple certifications in various models of equine-assisted activities and recently served as Chair of the Equine Welfare Committee with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH).

Her current research focuses involve looking at equine affiliative behaviors to study how horses create and maintain social bonds and how those can overlap with human affiliative behaviors for application in management, horse ownership, equine-assisted activities, and indicators of positive welfare in horses with and without humans.

She also has a passion for supporting sustainable systems of horse management and husbandry that promote physical and psychological welfare of the horse while simultaneously supporting sustainable ecosystem practices on small and large scales (for both feral and domestic equids). Emily currently develops and teaches courses at universities in the fields of psychology, animal-human interactions, animal-assisted interventions, animal behavior and training, and animal welfare and ethics.

For more information on Equine International visit equineintl.org (or equineinternational.org)
For more information on Learning Wild courses visit LearningWild.net

Related research papers:

Kieson, E, & Sams, J. (2022). Horse-Human Communication : The Roles of Language and Communication in the Context of Horse-Human Interactions. International Journal of Zoology and Animal Biology, 5(6). https://doi.org/10.23880/izab-16000414

Kieson, Emily, Felix, C., Webb, S., & Abramson, C. I. (2020). The effects of a choice test between food rewards and human interaction in a herd of domestic horses of varying breeds and experiences. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 231(April). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2020.105075

Kieson, Emily, & Goma, A. A. (2023). Tend and Befriend in Horses : Partner Preferences , Lateralization , and Contextualization of Allogrooming in Two Socially Stable Herds of Quarter Horse Mares.

Lansade, L., Bonneau, C., Parias, C., & Biau, S. (2019). Horse’s emotional state and rider safety during grooming practices, a field study. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 217(April), 43–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2019.04.017

Maeda, T., Ochi, S., Ringhofer, M., Sosa, S., Sueur, C., Hirata, S., & Yamamoto, S. (2021). Aerial drone observations identified a multilevel society in feral horses. Scientific Reports, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-79790-1

Merkies, K., & Franzin, O. (2021). Enhanced understanding of horse–human interactions to optimize welfare. Animals, 11(5), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051347

Rudd, C., Pasiuk, E., Anderson, N., Hall, N., Foster, R., Schroeder, K., … Foster, R. (2024). A Preliminary Assessment of Equine Affect in Equine-Assisted Services A Preliminary Assessment of Equine Affect in Equine-Assisted ABSTRACT. Anthrozoös, 0(0), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/08927936.2024.2333163

River Tiger podcast with Dr Carl Woods

Embracing uncertainty and a response-ability to the experiences of others (human and non-human). A conversation with Dr Carl Woods

Carl Woods is a Senior Research Fellow within the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University. His research interests reside at the intersection of ecological psychology, social anthropology, and sport science, where he explores concepts of knowing, skill, learning, and education. He has an extensive background in both academia and the industry, having held various positions within multiple Australian Universities and the Australian Football League.

In this conversation we explore what is is to learn, become skilful and to have expertise. Particularly the notion of being comfortable with embracing uncertainty, and through dwelling with uncertainty becoming open to the experiences of others (human and non-human). This idea is particularly pertinent to those who are working and learning with non-human sentient species, such as horses and dogs.

It’s a long and fascinating conversation that touches on many topics including the difference between cues and affordances, why it matters to ensure agency in those we coach and interact with, and what it is to interact though curiosity, care and hope.

This is a fascinating conversation that might need a few sessions to listen to, or a long drive 🙂

Contacting Carl –
Carl is on Twitter – @CarlWoods25

Journal Club #1 How can ‘performance analysis’ support our riding and coaching? Researcher Dr Jane Williams discusses the practical implications with showjumper and coach Emma Slater.

River tiger Podcast logo

Welcome to Episode 8 of The River Tiger Podcast and our first journal club episode where I choose a research paper from a journal that I think would be great to unpick and explore the practical ‘so what’ with one of the research team and a coach/rider.

The paper I have chosen for this episode is called ‘Faults in international showjumping are not random’ by David Marlin and Jane Williams (Comparative Exercise Physiology: 16 (3)- Pages: 235 – 241. 2020).

Jane Williams introduces her research, including the why, what, when and how of the study before Emma and I ask some questions and the three (well mostly my two brilliant guests) discuss the implications of the research and findings to everyday riding, coaching, horse and rider welfare, and competition performance.

The podcast is available to listen to here, or on your favourite podcast app.

Emma Slater
Emma Slater is an experienced and respected showjumping competitor and still competes at an elite level. Emma has competed and trained at the highest level of Showjumping in the UK and around the world. She is a British Showjumping UKCC Level 3 Coach and Excel Talent Coach who supports national development and coaching programmes including the DiSE (diploma in sporting excellence) programme. Emma is also a level 2 and 3 Assessor and the lead coach from British Showjumping Gloucester.

As a coach Emma specialises in the performance management of showjumping and eventing riders from grass roots to the International level. “I really enjoy working with people to develop their long-term goals and to help them achieve success”. Emma has excellent technical knowledge and is used to working in high pressured environments, maintaining a calm, confident manner. In her coaching as well as life Emma is empathetic, honest, motivated and a fair person.

Developing potential in horses and riders, it’s all about the partnership, growing confidence through knowledge and seeing them succeed – I love it!

Get in touch with Emma –
FB: Emma Slater Showjumping Page
Instagram: slateremsj

Dr Jane Williams
Jane is an Associate Professor and Head of Research at Hartpury University. She is an experienced researcher, with a passion for enhancing equine performance and wellbeing through industry-informed, real-world research that generates change. Jane qualified as a Veterinary Nurse then gained her Masters in Equine Science before completing her doctorate exploring the application of surface electromyography as a tool to assess muscle adaptation during training in racehorses and sport horses.

Jane’s main areas of professional interest include scientific evaluation of equestrian performance, training and wellbeing, rider impacts on equitation, reliability assessment across equestrian science and veterinary physiotherapy, and human-animal interaction. Jane co-edited and authored ‘Training for Equestrian Performance’ with Dr David Evans, to showcase how science and research can be applied practically to improve performance for horses and their riders, and has published over 100 research articles as well as regularly presenting at international equine conferences. She is also Honorary President for the International Society of Equitation Science, which promotes the application of objective research and advanced practice, to improve the welfare of horses in their associations with humans. Jane is also a founding member of the Sport horse Welfare Foundation.

Jane’s research outputs can be accessed here.