The Horse Promise

MyCompass.Horse is a movement of horse lovers and professionals who want to contribute to a more beautiful and better horse world. Horse welfare is central to this. Members of MyCompass.Horse therefore commit themselves to the horse promise:

  • I promise you a horse-worthy life.
  • I realize that I am responsible for your well-being. 
  • I promise to learn what a horse-worthy life means. 
  • I endorse the 10 training guidelines
  • I promise you to act in good conscience.

The 10 training guidelines of ISES

The 10 training guidelines The ISES training guidelines are NOT a method but in context they describe the practical guidelines based on scientific knowledge that underlies the essential basic needs and learning by horses. Every horse lover and professional should have knowledge of these guidelines. This knowledge enables the horse lover and professional to assess whether practices and training methods that are applied within a certain movement or (sports) discipline contribute to the well-being of horses during work, sport and recreation.

1. Account for all aspects of human and horse safety.

Take into account the size of the horse, its strength and flight reactions. (H)recognize flight behavior, fighting behavior and/or strike behavior (stiffening, stick-stiff standing still 'freezing') at an early stage. Minimize the risk of causing pain, illness, and injury. Make sure that man and horse 'match' mentally and physically.

2. Account for the natural, species-specific needs of the horse.

By meeting the natural (essential) basic needs of a horse such as foraging, free movement and species-specific companionship. By respecting the social needs of the horse and taking into account the fact that human actions and sudden movements can appear threatening to the horse. By refraining from using dominant expressions during interactions.  

3. Account for the mental and sensory abilities of horses.

By recognizing that horses think, see and hear differently compared to humans. Do not overestimate or underestimate the mental abilities of the horse. When interpreting the horse's behavior, avoid describing how you think the horse feels (happy, bored, lazy, mischievous, misunderstood). 

4. Account for the horse's emotional state.

By recognizing and understanding that horses are sentient beings capable of suffering. Therefore, encourage positive emotional moods. Recognize the fact that acting consistently makes the horse optimistic about the outcome of subsequent training results. By preventing pain, discomfort and/or evoking confusion or fear. 

5. Make correct use of desensitization methods.

By learning how to perform desensitization techniques correctly: systematic desensitization, over-shadowing, re-conditioning and selective reinforcement. By preventing the use of "flooding". 

6. Make Proper Use of Operant Conditioning 

By understanding that horses repeat behavior when it gives them something: so if 'doing something or not doing something' works, then they do it more often. By removing pressure when the desired behavior starts.   For example, by giving a feed or voice reward at the moment the behavior starts. By minimizing the time that elapses between the start of the desired behavior and the giving of the reward (the reinforcement). 

7. Make proper use of classical conditioning (associative learning, making connections).

By combining (when appropriate) different rewards for the same desired behavior. By recognizing that horses easily make connections between stimuli 

8. Make proper use of the step-by-step approach, shaping.

By breaking down the training of the desired behavior into the smallest possible (intermediate) steps that are very feasible for the horse and confirming each (intermediate) step (by repetition) before you go a step further. Gradually shape the desired behavior. By adjusting only one element in the context (trainer, location, signal). By planning the training in such a way that the next steps are logical and easy for the horse. By ensuring that the horse can clearly notice the difference between one signal and another signal.   

9. Make correct (consistent) use of signals, cues, aids.

By ensuring that one signal has only one meaning.
By giving the timing of the signals in the rhythm of the movement phases of the legs.
By preventing conflicting signals (braking and driving at the same time) from being given.

10. Train 'self-behaving' – walking on your own two feet

By teaching the horse to maintain the desired head, neck and body postures.
By avoiding forcing a certain posture under pressure or maintaining the posture through incessant repetition of the helpers.

Creation of Horse Promise

The horse promise was created with input from horse lovers and professionals who were also involved in the development of the competences of the Equestrian Compass

Heleen van der Pol, Sjak Arts, Marian Staal, Natascha van Eijk, Tessa van Daalen, Rosa van Veen, Bineke de Vries, Jantine Steehouder, Marleen van Baal, Tamara Dorresteijn, Mara de Ruijter, Malene Nootenboom, Sanne Roozen, Astrid Hoppenbrouwers, Patricia van Iersel, Caroline de Grood, Carlijn de Boer, Antoinette Diks, Anette van Weezel Errens, Maarten van Stek, Monica Musen, Marieke Klein Lenderink, Sabine de Jong, Wieke de Jong, Roy Baaijens, Mireille den Hoed, Karel de Lange, Joyce Everts, Liesbeth Jorna, Joan van Gorkum, Bo van Gorkum, Romy Huisman, Jolanda Adelaar, Anne Muller, Anita de Keijzer, Rianne Dekker, Jose Letsch 

ISES training guidelines

The 10 ISES training guidelines have been formulated by the International Society for Equitation Science. ISES promotes objective, research-based understanding of the well-being of horses during training and competition.  ISES does this by applying valid, quantitative scientific methods that can identify which training techniques are (in)effective or can lead to impairment of the well-being of the horse. This branch of scientific research uses a multidisciplinary approach to research and thus provide insight into the training of the horse, for example from the perspective of learning theory, avoiding anthropomorphism and emotion-motivated training.

Game changers 

The horse world does not need more successful riders, but successful game changers. MyCompass.Horse is the platform par excellence for game changers. Gamechangers are horse lovers and professionals who make a positive impact on people, horses and the environment from their own circle of influence. The policy of MyCompass.Horse is aimed at highlighting the contributions of successful game changers as much as possible. Both within the platform, and through its social media channels. Game changers can be recognized by the following characteristics: 

Game changers gain respect from the horse and from conscious and knowledgeable horse people. 

They show how they work with the horse based on trust and respect by sharing inspiring content. They deserve appreciation from honest critics. 

MyCompass.Horse offers its members the opportunity to earn demonstrable appreciation and respect by collecting reviews and 360 degree feedback on your Equestrian Compass (This functionality is under development and will become available in the short term). This functionality also allows horse lovers to gather objective information about an equestrian professional or company, so that they can make more conscious choices.  

Agree to disagree 

True game changers find resignation in the fact that not everyone will understand or appreciate their horsemanship and the unique relationship they have with the horse. They rely on their own horsemanship and the path they have mapped out for themselves, and do not feel the need to profile themselves, by pointing out the failures of others. 

We don't all have the same goals and ambitions with our horses. And that's fine. As long as we stay within the bandwidth of the Equestrian Compass, there is room for everyone to give substance to the partnership with the horse while maintaining their own identity.  

Gamechangers discover the best in other horse lovers and professionals  

Real game changers are able to discover the potential in the other. They can accept that not everyone is as far along. They are able to distinguish between intentionally and structurally harming the welfare of horses and unintentional mistakes that happen to everyone. They give others the benefit of the doubt, and encourage them to do better next time.  

It's easy to point out mistakes and failures to others. So that skill doesn't make you a game changer. Criticizing others online has little value because it doesn't help anyone, least of all the horse. It only poisons the atmosphere further and makes people more paranoid, more stressed and more defensive, making them even worse at riding and communicating with the horses. 

Leading by example: Gamechangers show how they make the horse world a little more beautiful and better

By sharing content about their horsemanship, about the products or services they provide, or by showing how their knowledge and experience contributes to more conscious horsemanship and horse welfare. Successful game changers have an open and curious attitude. Dare to question their own views and have the guts to adjust their opinion where necessary. They do not directly question the integrity of the other person in discussions and are sometimes able to postpone their judgment for a while.  

Game changers make a positive impact within their circle of influence 

Everyone can be a game changer and everyone can make a positive impact on people, horses and the environment. Whether you are a beginner, advanced, professional or expert. Of course, the greater your influence, the greater your impact. But starting a movement is more of a confluence of many small actions than a very big statement. 

Never underestimate the action of one single equestrian. 
‘It has been said that something as small as one action of a single equestrian  
can ultimately cause a change is the whole equestrian world.’