At SKE, we reject unethical, inhumane traditional methods.
And we think you should, too. Ask yourself:
Have you ever felt that something is wrong with the way horses are treated?
Have you ever been told you have to dominate your horse, force them, or use whips/spurs?
Are you upset when you see horse & rider lives risked for sport?
Have you ever felt there's a better, kinder way to communicate with your horse?
You're not alone in this experience.
Your instincts are correct & you're right to be upset.
Are traditional methods cruel?
Animal cruelty is defined as abuse or neglect. Abuse is intentional harm or injury of an animal. Neglect is deprivation of food, water, veterinary care, or other species-specific needs. The standard for equine care is neglectful - tiny, unenriched enclosures such as stalls or flat/empty paddocks, deprivation of forage, lack of socialization, etc. The standard for training and handling is abusive and unnecessary - outdated pressure-release methods that intentionally introduce aversives, pain, flooding, learned helplessness, etc. The industry standard for physical restraint and force-based exercise are also abusive, and both increase injury and physical harm to the horse.
This does not mean all equestrians are cruel & abusive.
It does mean that, unfortunately, the industry standard is animal cruelty.
Why is the industry cruel?
Historically, horses were used for transportation, farm equipment, and food long before they were used for sport or pleasure. Horses played an integral role in human history and when it came to training, the horses had to obey or the humans might not survive. Horse training evolved over the centuries based in force and absolute obedience. Horse care evolved to serve the ease of the human handler and minimize costs.
This is unnecessary in the modern day.
Know better, do better.
Why should we change now?
Most civilizations no longer depend on horsepower. Most workhorses in developed areas are unnecessary given the number of alternatives available. The remainder of horses are used for two main purposes - sport & pleasure. Equine sports evolved alongside practical use, which is why they followed the same force-based training principles and human-centered care practices.
The idea that horses should be forced to perform for us is outdated & inhumane.
Is change already happening?
Change is happening. The industry is showing gradual improvement. Each discipline, community, and individual progresses toward more ethical treatment every single day. At SKE, we have chosen to be at the forefront of that change. We utilize exclusively ethical training methods and holistic care practices.
Every equestrian has a responsibility to further progress.
There is a better way.
SKE Exclusively Practices Ethical Horsemanship
Our horsemanship starts with understanding the horse: their needs, their body language, and their communication signals. This allows us to identify how they feel about the world around them - what they perceive as good and what they perceive as bad. Thoughtful observation and mindful interactions allow us to understand the root of their behavior while staying aware of their communications & emotions.
From there, training methods follow an evidence-based approach: utilizing the Humane Hierarchy, LIMA, and behavioral neuroscience. These methods are commonly referred to as "force-free," "fear-free," "trauma-free," "trauma-healing," "errorless learning," "clicker training," "reward-based," and many other names.
At SKE, we aim to eliminate trauma and fear from training. Equines should not be traumatized by use of aversives, pain, flooding, and force for sport & pleasure. We firmly believe that horses should be invited to participate, not forced to perform.
We have many educational programs available to help others learn about our methods, including the techniques we use to implement them successfully.