At Equitation Science International, our mission is to educate horse riders and handlers in equitation science to enable efficiency and safety in all horse/interactions. Equitation Science is an emerging field that explains why horses behave as they do, their biomechanical patterns and limitations and on this template, how we can modify horse behaviour. It explains what is likely to work and what is unlikely to work in horse training, and how we can communicate more effectively with horses. Equitation Science is not an ideology but rather a body of knowledge that provides evidence-based ‘first principles’ that ensure safety, efficiency, best-practice welfare and ultimately sustainability. It informs all disciplines and ideologies of horse training and horse sports in a non-partisan way, and privileges horse welfare as the top priority. The Diploma of Equitation Science is a horse training and coaching qualification that provides a full understanding of horse training and enables the most effective pathways to all equestrian disciplines and activities.
We strive to modernise horse training with the latest scientific data on the natural behaviour of horses, their learning processes, human and equine biomechanics, handler and rider effects, and attachment.
When horse training is aligned with these elements, it becomes optimally successful and safe, thus greatly improving horse welfare in the equestrian sport.
We aim to use the most effective teaching techniques to disperse this information around the world and, in doing so, liberate horses and riders from the trappings of tradition, mythology and hearsay.
“The best thing we can do, as horse owners, is ask ourselves if our practices really are the best for our horses and educate ourselves to find out.”
Prof Paul McGreevy, University of Sydney
Dr Andrew McLean
Dr Andrew McLean, PhD (Equine Cognition & Learning), BSc (Zoology), Dip Ed
Co-Director, Equitation Science International
Winner of the highest Australian science award, the Eureka Prize for Science, Andrew McLean is in great demand as a trainer, coach and speaker. In addition to establishing the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre, he has written 5 books, including an international best seller, and authored 35 peer-reviewed journal articles.
An accredited coach for more than 30 years, Andrew’s own riding achievements include winner of the advanced section of the famous Gawler Three-Day-Event, representing Australia in Horse Trials, short-listed for the World Championships, competitor at State and National events in FEI level Dressage and Eventing, and Show Jumping to Grand Prix level. He also held a racehorse owner/trainer licence, and raced bareback in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Andrew continues to conduct demonstrations at universities and conferences around the world, including in Australia, Europe, South Africa, the United States, Canada and New Zealand. Prestigiously awarded an Honorary Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science for his ongoing contribution to equitation science, he was instrumental in hosting the 1st International Equitation Science Symposium, held at the AEBC in 2005. ISES conferences continue today throughout the world.
Andrew also began training elephants in Nepal in 2007, which led to the establishment of the not-for-profit HELP Foundation (Human Elephant Learning Program), of which he is now Senior Vice President. This cooperative project focusses on the optimal management, welfare and training of elephants in Asia using innovative training techniques based on learning theory and the elimination of punishment.
Download CV (includes list of publications)
Manuela McLean, NCAS Level 2 (Dressage Specialist), BSc (Biology), Dip Ed
Co-Director, Equitation Science International
Highly sought after as a National Coach in Dressage, Manuela McLean regularly conducts clinics within Australia and internationally, including in New Zealand, England, Scotland, Netherlands, South Africa and Canada. She also teaches private lessons and clinics at the AEBC in Clonbinane, VIC and at Bassinghall in Tuerong, VIC.
Manuela’s reputation for her pursuit of excellence precedes her. Having competed to FEI level in Dressage and Advanced Three-Day-Eventing, Manuela complements her teaching by keeping up-to-date with the latest scientific knowledge at conferences such as ISES and the Global Dressage Forum. With a particular interest in biomechanics of horse and rider, she imparts this knowledge during her lessons to pupils of all ages and levels.
Manuela co-developed the AEBC training system and, in 2002, co-authored ‘Horse Training the McLean Way’. Since then, Andrew and Manuela have released ‘Academic Horse Training’, along with a series of three DVDs. Manuela has also written numerous articles on training, focussing particularly on teaching children and their ponies. She plans to write a book for children on how to train the perfect pony.
Evidence of her abilities, one of Manuela’s recent achievements was coaching and training Paralympian Joann Formosa and her stallion, Worldwide PB, to gold medal victory at the 2012 London Paralympics. In just six months, Manuela trained Worldwide PB to be a competitive Paralympic mount responsive to verbal and postural cues. Worldwide PB learned to respond to the lightest of aids and, together, he and Joann achieved Paralympic success.
Sophie Wyllie, BComm, Dip MA
Business Manager, Equitation Science International
Given her first pony at the age of two and having grown up in the McLean household, Sophie has been immersed in the horse world all her life. Now a keen show jumper, Sophie first excelled in Eventing up to 1*. In 2015, she won the Shepparton World Cup Amateur Series Champion on her Warmblood x Thoroughbred mare, Da Lyla. She has now sold Da Lyla to a junior rider and currently competes a new youngster, Ruby II in showjumping. Sophie enjoys riding and competing as a hobby, and leaves the professional horse training to the rest of her family while she manages the business side of things.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Communications and a Diploma in Marketing and Communications in 2009 from RMIT, Sophie worked in advertising, then transitioned into management at the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre, before building and now managing Equitation Science International. Passionate about following in the footsteps of her parents to create more sustainable horse-human relationships, Sophie brings a highly organised, capable and personable approach to her role as Business Manager.
As her siblings pursue the path of horse training, Sophie is driven to work with and educate people. Her vision for Equitation Science International is to enable others to understand how horses learn and, thus, improve training, communication and, ultimately, horse welfare. For Sophie, it is a pleasure to work alongside like-minded people who are working towards creating a better connection between themselves and their horses, while managing the day-to-day activities of one of Australia’s leading training centres.
Helen Godfrey, BAgrSc, Dip Ed, NCAS Level 1 (Non-Jumping), NCAS Level 1 (General)
Course Coordinator, Equitation Science International
As a professional educator, Helen Godfrey has been a driving force behind the development of ESI’s Diploma of Equitation Science, turning decades of Dr Andrew McLean’s research, competition and coaching experience into clear, accredited curriculum. With numerous qualifications herself, including NCAS Level I (Non-Jumping) and (General), Helen is devoted to teaching others, particularly in the area of coaching.
A student of Manuela McLean for more than 20 years and a graduate of Equitation Science International, Helen came on board during the centre’s establishment and, since then, has been heavily involved in structuring its courses. As Course Coordinator, Helen also works alongside clinicians, such as Dr Andrew McLean, to monitor student assessments and provide support during practical exercises at the centre.
A coach with her own small client base, Helen sees the positive implications of learning theory for horse and rider firsthand. Not only does learning theory promote horse welfare, but it’s a logical and sequential framework for both learning and problem solving, in turn producing more confident riders. In her role at Equitation Science International, Helen aims to share this education with more horse professionals and enthusiasts.