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The Whole Horse Podcast with Alexa Linton

Oct 17, 2023

Having seen Shelby's recent social media post titled "Dominance theory is dead / Your horse does not view you as the alpha" circulating the internet, I knew I had to have her on the show for a conversation about this important, and often controversial, topic. After presenting the current research on dominance theory and de-bunking this long-standing perspective on horsemanship, we mused about why horse people are so committed to this alpha mindset despite what science has since proven on the social dynamics of horses. Shelby then offered her advice to folks who are on the path of overhauling their attitudes and actions when it comes to horsemanship and horse keeping, as someone who began that process herself almost 10 years ago. We rounded out the episode with a critical look at the typical weaning process, and how, ultimately, our practices surrounding this vulnerable time in our horses' lives mirrors the equestrian industry's grip on outdated, human-centric philosophies that do not place the horses welfare and wellness at the forefront of our decisions and activities. Oh, how we could go on! 

It was such a pleasure to have this fellow Pacific Northwesterner on for a matter-of-fact chat on these subjects, and I hope our discussion helps you continue to advocate for positive change in our horse world! 

Shelby Dennis is a 27 year old professional horse trainer and behaviour consultant based in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Shelby has over 22 years of experience with horses. From the Arabian horse circuit to hunter/jumper to dressage and exercising race horses, Shelby’s practical experience with different kinds of horses has made her a well rounded horse person. On top of her practical experience, Shelby has also taken her post-secondary studies seriously, taking several Equine Science based courses through Guelph to work towards her Certificate of Equine Science, choosing to emphasize her studies and education on Equine Behaviour. In early 2021, Shelby received her Equine Behaviour Consultant certification from the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants.

You can find out more about Shelby through her website