Northumberland College will welcome leading equine experts Cristina Wilkins and Lisa Ashton to its Kirkley Hall Campus in October for a ground-breaking equine welfare workshop. 

The exclusive event, believed to be a world-first for the industry, will see delegates actively engaged in an interactive, hands-on learning experience on how to apply the Five Domains Model of Animal Welfare in an equine setting in a positive and constructive way. 

Since being developed by Emeritus Professor David Mellor, the Model has gained increasing global interest as a means for to evaluate animal welfare in a more holistic way, recognising that a host of factors can affect their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Led by Cristina, editor in chief of Horses and People and PhD candidate with the University of New England, the workshop will be the first to introduce a Five Domains-based welfare assessment checklist – originally designed by Dr Bidda Jones and more recently adapted by Cristina and Professor Paul McGreevy – which identifies practices that can be improved for horses to lead better lives.  

Additionally, it has the potential to help equine professionals begin conversations with their clients when welfare issues arise. 

Cristina, who is co-author of The Five Domains Model: Including Human-Animal Interactions in Assessments of Animal Welfare, said: “I am delighted to be leading this innovative workshop to explore the Five Domains Model and its potential as a tool for generating constructive welfare conversations. 

“While online meetings have been invaluable for staying connected during the last few years, we’ve also come to realise that in-person interactions are truly irreplaceable. 

“We are preparing an event to generate optimism, confidence and rigour when evaluating horse welfare, but above all, we want delegates to gain and develop practical strategies and confidence when they discuss horse welfare with others.” 

Supporting Cristina will be Lisa Ashton, the UK’s authority in the application of Equitation Science who has supported many national charities to develop positive and high welfare interactions with their horses. 

A behaviour consultant to the international dressage stud, Mount St John, Lisa is a senior lecturer at Hartpury University and has previously led training clinics and online lectures to Higher Education students at Northumberland College. 

She said: “I am thrilled to be invited to facilitate a meaningful to the horse, in-person workshop which will focus on prioritising horse welfare, social connections, and psychological safety in a dedicated space more obsessed with expanding curiosity rather than being right. 

“This workshop will explore the latest welfare assessment framework – the Five Domains – and how we can all evolve our conversations to positively impact the lived experience of horses.” 

Cristina and Lisa will be joined by Northumberland College’s Higher Education Equine and Animal Management Curriculum Manager Naomi Ainley, who writes and delivers the equine modules on Kirkley Hall’s equine management, training and coaching degree and foundation courses. 

Naomi said: “It is not often we have the opportunity in the North to host equine events of this calibre with guest speakers such as Cristina and Lisa. 

“Northumberland College has been leading a growing community of equestrian coaches and business owners in a more ethical and sustainable form of equestrianism, and I’m really looking forward to spending the day with individuals who are committed to improving equine welfare. 

“By identifying ways in which we can make a positive difference to the lives of all horses we work with, we are helping to safeguard the future of the equestrian sport and horse industry.” 

To register for the event, visit: 

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