Understanding the Horse provides knowledge of practical and immediate use to horsepeople of all disciplines. Information from fields as diverse as biomechanics, evolutionary biology, and psychology is combined with riding principles of Balance, Center, Connect™ and an approach grounded in Indigenous worldview to provide horses and the people who love them with rich new opportunities for growth and development.
We teach feel, relationship, and an independent seat through seminars, clinics, training, lessons, videos, and a blog. Special programs for older, fearful, and returning riders make it possible for anyone to connect or reconnect to horses.
Programs are designed and taught by Jo Belasco, Esq., an exceptional riding instructor, trainer, and clinician in the field of horse-human relationship; and Dawn Adams, Ph.D., an eclectic scholar and horsewoman with outstanding academic credentials and a national teaching award, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Dawn and Jo have collaborated since 1998 to develop equine programs that have real and immediate impact on the things you do with horses.
To learn more about our programs, lessons, and group or individual learning opportunities, please explore our website. For an introduction to our philosophy, explore the images on this page and their captions below.
You can register for a personal biomechanical analysis of your riding, or sign up for an initial training lesson, right here on this website. You can also pay registration fees here for clinics or seminars your barn or group has already scheduled. If you’d like to ask about bringing a clinic or seminar to your barn or horse organization, or have other questions about our programs, please write us using the inquiry form on our Contact page. Jo, Dawn, or Darcie will respond within 24 hours.
Please consider joining our Mailing List on the Contact page as well. Mailing list subscriptions let you know when new seminars and clinics are scheduled in Horse Biomechanics, send you automatic updates on opportunities for riding instruction and training, and keep you up to date on other news about Understanding the Horse programs and events. Our mailing list is not used for any other purpose, and is not leased, sold, or traded to any other person(s) or organization(s).
Top: Paleolithic horse painting from the cave of Lascaux in France, dated to about 18,000 years ago, shows us that humans and horses have been connected for a very long time. The first reproduction of this painting, drawn by hand in the 1800s and published in books for decades, depicted the leaves as spears. That mistake has had a lasting impact on our ideas about the relationship between humans and horses. Learn more at the cave’s website (in French) or at this interesting Metropolitan Museum of Art site.
Second: Simple analysis of a rider showing why the way she habitually sat made it difficult for her horse to take a left lead. While all riders know how important balance is, biomechanics helps us reconsider what balance really means — and how to use it effectively. From a personal biomechanical analysis performed by Dawn Adams in 2009. Copyright reserved by Dawn Adams, Ph.D.
Third: American Mustangs shelter among cedars in a snowstorm. Horses are evolutionarily adapted to treeless grasslands ecosystems but have spread into a wide variety of habitats worldwide. If genetic heritage completely determined horses’ behaviors, they would not have been able to do this. Photograph by Jo Belasco, Esq., all rights reserved.
Bottom: Riding bareback gives a rider better feel of her own body as well as that of her horse. Better feel, in turn, allows her to develop the real balance of an independent seat and to connect more meaningfully with the horse she’s riding. A rider centered this way is centered for life. Photograph by Jo Belasco, Esq., all rights reserved.