Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

T. Grandon Gill, DBA

Co-Major Professor

Robert Tiller, DBA

Committee Member

Chris Pantzalis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dahlia Robinson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shivendu Shivendu, Ph.D.


Equine, Horses, Hoof Care, Natural Horsemanship, Farrier, Shod, Barefoot, Change, Status Quo, Qualitative Data Analysis, NVivo, Change Management, Grounded Theory, Resistance to Change, Organizational Change


Change management is a highly researched topic. With industry changing at record speed, it is inevitable that corporations will engage in a change management endeavor. As humans innately resist change at first exposure, corporations strive to acquire knowledge in adoption. It may not be enough to understand status quo proponents, but rather their underlying long-standing belief systems which may be affecting how they view change. What makes an employee resist corporate change? Most studies conclude that humans will resist innately. This research dives into the unique environment of the equine industry to uncover how long-standing belief systems contribute to adoption or resistance.

The motivation for this research began with a fascination with long-standing belief systems within the equine industry. The unique environment of the equine industry is steeped in centuries of tradition, and while housing long-standing belief systems that are time-tested and passed down from generation to generation, in most cases, without awareness. The industry is currently experiencing a phenomenon that has never taken place: a change is occurring that is positioning two equine factions, natural and traditional, against each other in opposing viewpoints. Some view this change as the start of a paradigm shift; others view it as a fad. The nature of natural horsemanship is now up for debate.

The study was conducted by using qualitative data collection in a semi-structured format. Forty-one (41) equine leaders in natural and traditional hoof care and horsemanship were recorded in over 30 hours of data. The interview model included not only the industry leaders proposing or resisting change but also the professionals in the industry working in the field, experiencing the conflict first hand.

The research presented revealed an interesting finding. Although 61 codes were identified, a specific area within the study revealed a “hybrid” group of codes amongst the traditional horsemen in hoof care and horsemanship. Leaders who are advocating for the status quo showed levels of natural adoption that was unexpected. The research pivoted to the areas of traditional resistors and traditional adopters.

The main objective is to decipher why some members of the industry are adopting while others are resisting. As adoption is the main objective for change management, uncovering the reasons for resisting seemed to dictate the data more prevalently. From this research, it can be deduced that there is significant evidence to support the findings that people who resist change may have these characteristics or traits in their belief system: Strong traditional beliefs such as culture and history, honor-driven, strong religious ties, defensive by nature, communicate well, believe safe, minimal adaptation (innovation), and consider themselves to be trustworthy and responsible, are people-oriented and outgoing. According to this research, people with those traits and characteristics are more apt to resist change and may be a potential problem when instituting change in an organization. This research points towards the significant evidence to support the findings that people who resist change may have these characteristics or traits in their belief system: Frustration in industry or a sense of apathy, open-mindedness or flexibility, vulnerability, communicate well, family ties, controlling and shows hero tendencies.

Not many other industries can report that it has remained unchanged over time, even in the face of industrial revolution, war, and domestication. However, in the past 20 years, the equine industry has been divided through a new belief system that is challenging these time-tested traditions and beliefs regarding hoof care and horsemanship. The natural horse viewpoint has created an opposing faction to the traditional belief system that governed horse care and welfare since the dawn of time. The qualitative data that was gathered for this research allows for the synthesis of the proposed paradigm shift and opposing force analysis. Although not a true paradigm shift to date, these two factions, natural and traditional, are dividing the industry in two. Not a more perfect scenario could be present to study long-standing belief systems in relation to adoption and resistance to change. The Hybrid Adaptation Model was formed from the qualitative data provided by 41 industry experts through the grounded theory method. This model can be used to navigate through the change management process. This research revealed a theory that adaptation must occur prior to adoption and partial adoption may cause a “hybrid” sector.