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WOW, if you keep - or if you care for - horses…

Dutch Horse Welfare Innovation Team awarded first prize in Poster Competition
declared by the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES).

The Dutch submission to the ISES competition is called; ‘WOW, Working on Optimal equine Welfare’. WOW aims, as was the assignment, to explain the ‘10 ISES first equine welfare principles’ for horse keeping and training in a charming, positive way. WOW definitely drew the attention of the ISES board members organising this special ‘ISES 2019 world-wide poster competition’. WOW explains welfare matters in an ‘attractive, pragmatic and understandable way’. Without difficult words, with a dash of humour and a 100 appealing cartoons WOW, Working on Optimal equine Welfare, became the winner! ‘Brilliant’ according to the experts. ‘I am so impressed, congratulations to you and your team for this excellent poster. I’d be happy to help with the further developments of this concept’ dr. Andrew McLean wrote to the Dutch team.

The WOW concept explains how we, according to the ISES scientists, can improve a horse’s welfare during riding, it explains how we can be fair, consistent and sustainable. The WOW poster shows what can be ‘in it for the horse’ and at the same time WOW is outspoken about the lines we should not want to cross.

The welfare of horses is being disputed worldwide. Things are said like; ‘Is horse riding for sports and pleasure still of this time? Shouldn’t we bring this practice to an end?’ ‘Certainly NOT’, many millions of horse loving enthusiasts will say. But, now also in the horse world, it is becoming clear that it is time for a new sound, a fresh breeze and new opportunities.

By applying academic insights as now easily described in WOW we all can make a huge difference in the way a horse experiences his environment, a training or a simple ride in the fields. By using the WOW poster and the Fair Play tools teachers and riders can make training more appealing, more fun for the horses. By doing so not only horses but we humans too can experience the value of a better mutual understanding.

WOW was developed by Anne Muller, Machteld van Dierendonck and Pascale Nales; graphics.

The WOW poster will be published by ISES as a FREE DOWNLOAD on This poster is part of a larger concept. When you want to learn more about Working on Optimal equine Welfare and the other educational tools which are (being) developed, you are welcome to visit and download one of the WOW Fair Play Packages.

For the Dutch speaking, there is a Dutch version. See:

For journalists contact: Anne Muller 0031 6 153 165 92

Additional information below:

If you care about the welfare of (your) horses, the scientists of ISES say, you can concentrate on two fields:
1) When not performing: by respecting the biological needs of the horse (among other things: the suitable supply of good food and fresh water, shelter, the possibility to move freely, make decisions, – to socialise, play and rest). There are many scientific studies who suggest that adapting husbandry and management towards optimising the possibility to execute equine basic needs (and limiting the risk of injury) horses perform much better and will have a better longevity. 2) When performing: we all should have a better understanding about – and make more consistent use of – the 10 (learning) principles for horse welfare.
Conceivably translating especially this second point, taking science to a day to day practical level, is the centre piece of the WOW concept.

WOW is meant for novice riders and beyond. The full WOW concept includes a large wallposter and several downloadable files called ’WOW Fair Play packages’ containing more and colourful tools for different ages. WOW thus provides horse keepers, teachers, trainers and riders with practical starting points for both the daily routine and for delivering an optimal, honest performance.

The ISES members, collaborating since 2007, concerned about the welfare of horses, are aiming to provide us horse-lovers with truly reliable answers based on robust research. Already in 2008 shared academic insights were captured for equines in the ’10 ISES first principles’. Researchers literally had started to look at the world through the horses eyes, asking themselves; ‘Can we do better’? Based on information derived from the horse’s point of view ISES says: ’Horses could benefit from a less dominant way of training, We can reinvent the ‘horse – human’ relationship’, we can play the game in a more fair way’.
For over 10 years ISES itself has now developed and promoted the ‘10 ISES first principles’. But in the process the ISES organisation learned that the academic way of describing and explaining matters contained to much complicated theory for riders and other horse people. Therefore, the ISES counsel came up with something! Therefore a competition was launched worldwide.