Equus is a genus of animals which includes horses, donkeys, mules, burros, and zebras. Equesse is a word coined and trademarked by Lelia Media to describe the Sentience of Equines, or, in other words, "The Essence of Equus." The Exploring Equesse Program will explore the inter-species relationships between equines and humans. The program consists of distinct projects that, together, will enable us to a] improve our understanding of the sentience of horses and other equines around the world and b] increase our understanding of how equines are affected when working with humans in sport activities, therapy sessions and other 'horse-human-partnership' type situations around the world.
Why This Matters:
It can be said that throughout human history horses have been exploited in more ways than any other animals on the planet.
For our own benefit, humans have used horses for everything from being a war machine or sports equipment to providing commodities that can make glue or hormone replacement pharmaceuticals.
In contrast, for centuries, horses have also supported humans emotionally as friends, comrades in arms, beloved family members, work mates, team mates, and therapists.
However, while expecting all this support for ourselves, most humans have given little to no regard to how the horses are affected, both positively and negatively, by playing these different roles that serve us.
Thankfully, today more research is being done on the sentience of animals, which brings much needed attention to this area of scientific study.
Recent studies are shedding new light about how having a greater understanding of animals' feelings can enrich life for us all.
The Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy (HSISP) has just launched:
As an interdisciplinary journal, ASent will be of interest to all who are concerned with the current empirical findings on what, when and how nonhuman animals feel, along with the practical, methodological, legal, ethical, sociological, theological and philosophical implications of the findings.
The People Behind This Program:
Susan Gordon - Canada: Researcher & Author
Susan Gordon is the Founder and Project Director of The Compassionate Equestrian Movement, which is based on her book titled The Compassionate Equestrian. Susan offers horse lovers of all disciplines a rare combination of a deep, intuitive connection with horses plus professional training and riding experience - including much time in the saddle, over jumps and in the dressage ring. Her ability to apply this unique knowledge and understanding toward improving the horse-rider relationship is unsurpassed in the equestrian industry. The Compassionate Equestrian and the 25 Principles of Compassionate Equitation are truly a gift to people who value and love horses everywhere.
Through her own compassion for people, animals and the environment, Susan has provided a game-changing formula for the equine industry to embrace and make a positive difference in the world and in the lives of horses and humans alike.
Jayna Wekenman - USA: Researcher & Educator:
Jayna is active in promoting Environmental & Behavioral Enrichment for equines and exploring ways in which implementing these concepts transfers into experiential learning and personal wellness for humans. Through design, build, and collaboration, she hopes to offer more implementation for enrichment.
Her work supports the use of Behavioral and Environmental Enrichment for equines as well as other animals in captivity/domestication. (click to view the Engaged Equines website)
Jayna is the Project Director for The Working Burros Project which brings more understanding about how working burros contribute to people, communities, and private entities. This project is designed to boost adoptions and enrichment of BLM burros, promote skills development of inmate trainers and explore social, physical, and financial benefits of burro involvement. (To visit the Working Burro's website - please click here).
Jayna has an MA in Education: Equine Assisted Experiential Learning from Prescott College (Prescott, AZ) and a BS in Recreation Leadership & Management: Outdoor Adventure Education from Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI).
To read Jayna's full bio: please click here.
The Equesse® Magazine & Social Network, For Women Who Love Horses, is a unique way to reach an influential and exclusive group of women consumers who share an unrelenting passion for horses.
Women who love horses, whether they actually own horses or simply "own" the equestrian lifestyle, seek much of the same information to fuel their passion.
The Equesse® Magazine & Social Network will provide a place for women to share and explore this common bond. From Clydesdales to Mini's, Western to English, dressage to barrel racing, competition or recreation, they will find it all here.
The magazine and social network will provide practical information and uplifting inspiration to all who visit, participate, and contribute content. It offers a forum that brings them together with leading professional women from throughout the global equine industry. This community website and social media network will allow women access to a panel of experts made up of professional trainers, life coaches, mental health experts, artists, world-class competition riders and more - each sharing their professional and personal insight into the world of horses.
Additionally, The Equesse® Magazine & Social Network will offer sponsors and organizations a valuable opportunity to become affiliated with the emotionally charged content that women seek online. Topics such as Women's Health, Beauty & Fashion, Careers, Relationships, Finances and Lifestyle Balance are all covered. Only with Equesse®, they are positioned as it relates to a life with horses.
Working Burro is a vision for creating sustainable "work" and adoptions for BLM burros throughout the United States. Thousands of horses and burros are managed daily by the Bureau of Land Management in both short-term holding and long-term holding facilities. Through collaboration, inmates train burros to be handled, pack, ride, and pull at the Arizona State Prison through Arizona Correctional Industries. The people behind Working Burro believe that by having more sustainable and viable options for burros in communities, public agencies, and private entities, will lead to more adoptions. Therefore, the Federal budget, communities / entities / agencies, inmate trainers, burros, and you & I will all benefit from this project.
For more information about the BLM Wild Horse & Burro program and adoption information, see the BLM page: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram.html
Fly Without Wings will be a collaborative project involving organizations and sponsors that will send a strong, positive message about the accomplishments of equestrians with disabilities as well as people who have been helped through Equine Assisted Learning & Therapy programs. By raising awareness of successful equine assisted programs and FEI Paraequestrian competitions, FWW will increase the number of people involved with horses, as well as promote the need for financial support through corporate sponsorship opportunities.
The project will also work in complete accordance with The 25 Principals of Compassionate Equitation and collaborate with The Compassionate Equestrian Movement. This will insure the welfare of horses everywhere who are asked to participate and work with humans, but who may be suffering from hidden disabilities of their own. FWW will share stories about the horses themselves who have overcome obstacles in their lives, as well.
Inspiration is a gift that can take many forms. Books, movies, songs, or spiritual meditation can all have a significant impact on human behavior. Nothing is more inspiring, however, than a person who has accomplished something extraordinary and can stand as an example for others to follow. Fly Without Wings will be a network designed to recognize, encourage, and celebrate people who do this each and every day. People with disabilities do not go through life developing relationships like most "mainstream" people. Whether they are dealing with physical limitations such as the loss of an arm or leg, or mental or emotionally challenges such as PTSD, many people face barriers in their lives - especially in their unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. Some have found a way to overcome these obstacles by combining their lives with the spirit of one of Earth's most beautiful creatures - the horse.
The role of the horse is different between Para-Equestrian competitive riding, Therapeutic Riding, and Equine Assisted Mental Health, and not every horse is cut out for this type of work with humans. However, when the right combination is in place, many people develop a unique talent to communicate with an animal and develop an inexplicable bond. When it happens, this connection is truly a gift of inspiration that should be shared. This project does this by shining the spotlight on those who, by example, prove it is possible to Fly Without Wings.
Compassion becomes the foundation for all decisions that an equestrian makes with every choice for their horse, for all people involved in the equine community, as well as the global community. Through choosing compassion as the common ground for all decisions, equestrians can become a movement for creating a kinder, happier, healthier, more compassionate world. This project is designed to engage a vast audience of horse lovers, from all areas of breeds and disciplines, and provide the tools for them to change their human behavior for the betterment of their own relationship with horses.
If changing the way you work with horses could change the world, would you do it?
Abstract for Human Behavior Change:
Can Mindfulness Practices Change the Way We Work With Horses for the Better?
Author: Susan A Gordon
(Gordon, SA, Schoen Dr. AM; The Compassionate Equestrian, 2015 Trafalgar Square Books/Horse and Rider Books, VT, USA)
Compassion is necessary at the core level to facilitate changes in equine welfare. Horse-people tend to be extremely critical of one another for many reasons. Generally, these behaviours are based in fear, insecurity, and/or anger. Developing mindfulness practices can allow us to rise above the pettiness for the sake of the growing number of horses that are left unrideable, lame, homeless, and unsalable for a variety of reasons.
When horses are in fear, anxious, or otherwise stressed by circumstances, they are often treated in ways that are similar to how humans respond to one another when faced with similar situations. As such, cycles of abuse and “bad” behaviour are repeated over and over again.
For example, a frightened horse may in turn frighten his rider, who then responds with repeated blows of a whip or stabs of the spur. The force of the rider may be effective to propel the horse forward, but it does not resolve the fact that the horse was afraid in the first place. Then, the issue compounds, causing the horse to, not only become afraid of the object, but also be in fear of pain and punishment coming from his rider. Eventually, without the development of proper resilience and coping skills, the horse breaks down psychologically. He may acquire further resistances and behaviour issues, including problems that become ever more difficult to manage.
An effective method of reducing stress levels in the barn or arena could eliminate this cycle. When the human is in a calm, mindful state, the effect on the horse will be noticeable. The efficacy of the 25 Principles of Compassionate Equitation are currently being put into action and tested by several trainers and individuals with equestrian organizations. We are monitoring feedback and progress as “proof of thesis” emerges from anecdotal evidence of changes occurring in human behaviour as a result of their putting Compassionate Equitation into practice.
Discussion and Conclusion:
The 25 Principles of Compassionate Equitation are designed to be a paradigm-shifting program for the entire equine industry. Self-reflection and periods of quiet time before approaching the horses is the basis for the Principles. Moving from self, to paying attention to the welfare of the “Global Herd,” the Principles provide a workable plan for human change that will have a profound effect on equine welfare, and in fact, animal welfare in general.
The Michigan Horsepower TV series is a proposed 8 part human-interest series for regional distribution that will showcase up to 40 different stories of people working and interacting with horses in Michigan. This will include everything from mounted police to trail riding to Michigan history to entrepreneur leadership training with horses. Also in development is a "companion" mobile and social media network to allow for ongoing interaction and community engagement with the program. Michigan Horsepower will also provide a rich media platform for local/regional businesses to sponsor or advertise and reach a vast audience of horse lovers.
Our Current Programs: