The Authors

Scientist Dawn Adams and Horsewoman Jo Belasco have been collaborating on practical applied horse biomechanics since 2005, working together to help people and their horses have a better experience. They’ve been collaborating on public education projects since 1999, first in the non-profit organization Tapestry Institute and more recently in Understanding the Horse, LLC. Dawn is a professional scientist in biomechanics with a doctorate from UC Berkeley, and she is also a scientific illustrator who is preparing all the book’s original illustrations. Jo is a professional horsewoman with a wide range of experiences — in different kinds of riding, with a variety of people, in a number of different types of learning venues, using more than one cultural approach to horses and horsemanship. You can learn more here about why they decided to write “The Science of Riding with Feel: Horse Biomechanics and You” and its companion Workbook, and what makes the book uniquely worthwhile to everyone who loves horses. Short biographies for Dawn and Jo appear beneath their photographs, and there are samples of Dawn’s professional illustration work below that.

Dawn and Jo

Dawn Hill Adams, Ph.D. (left) and Jo Belasco, Esq. (right), with friends

DAWN HILL ADAMS, Ph.D., has taught everyone from families in museum programs to faculty in special seminars about the marvels of animal movement for nearly 35 years. She got her doctorate in vertebrate paleobiology, with an emphasis in the biomechanics of large animal locomotory systems, at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989. She was a university professor for 13 years at Presbyterian College and Baylor University, where she taught comparative anatomy, functional morphology, and biomechanics to undergraduate and graduate students. During this time she carried out research in stress analysis, ran a successful graduate program in animal biomechanics, and served as a consultant to zoos whose large animals were having problems with their legs, feet, and backs. In 1998, she founded the non-profit organization Tapestry Institute to develop and carry out innovative programs of public science education. Four of the 5 prestigious grants she’s been awarded for science education from the National Science Foundation were made to Tapestry projects. She is the recipient of national excellence in teaching awards and is a popular invited speaker to academic workshops held at universities and seminaries, on topics ranging from science education to the relationship between science and the humanities. Dawn has ridden casually since childhood and studied Western reining training as a young woman in college. She’s given seminars and clinics on horse biomechanics since 2011, in venues that include the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo both of the last two years, and she’s done basic biomechanics evaluations of individual horses and riders since 2009. She is a registered member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Dawn is also a professional scientific illustrator and graphic artist and is making the illustrations for this book. Some of her work can be seen at the bottom of this page, and others appear in the book illustration samples on the pages of this website. You can learn more about Dawn here.

JO BELASCO, Esq. trained for five years, 1996-2001, with Adrienne Iorio, who has competed through the International 4-Star level in Eventing, at Apple Knoll Farm Equestrian Center in Millis, Massachusetts. She has been a professional horsewoman since 2001, when she founded the Horse-Human Relationship Program in Tapestry Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In 2008, Jo started teaching riding and training professionally to a wide variety of riders on many breeds and in a number of disciplines — backyard, beginner, adult beginner, hunter/jumper, dressage, trail, gaited, bareback, Western, and Western dressage — with riders ranging in age from young children to riders in their seventies, in both clinic and lesson formats, specializing in helping older (over 40) and fearful riders. Since 2012, she has helped riders understand how to apply horse biomechanics in special clinics she offers jointly with Dawn Adams through Understanding the Horse, LLC. Jo has conducted seminars and clinics in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. She presented her “How To Ride Without Fear” seminar four times at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo to packed audiences. In all her work, Jo recognizes three critically important connections: (1) the mutually-reinforcing bond between physical, psychological, and emotional balance in both horse and rider, (2) the positive impact of riding and training with an understanding of basic horse biomechanics on a horse’s softness and willingness, and (3) the centering that emerges from riding in this type of deeply balanced way, that connects the horse and rider at a profound level many riders are actively seeking. She therefore focuses on balancing, centering and connecting with every horse and rider. Jo is a retired attorney (she worked for the Boston Police Department for five years) whose work as a legal editor and author stand her in good stead as we prepare the project manuscripts for publication and lay them out.You can learn more about Jo here.

Here are some additional samples of Dawn Hill Adams’ artwork. Dawn is a professional scientific illustrator and graphic artist whose work has appeared in a number of scientific magazines, journals, and books as well as in advertisements and brochures. She is also a Registered Choctaw Artist.

Front Matter

Work that appeared on the cover of the journal Science in 1979. Pencil on illustration board.


Detailed illustrations of fossil and recent cheetah and mountain lion vertebrae and forelimb bones, published in a scientific journal. Pen and ink on vellum.


“Girl with Sheep”, mixed media on illustration board.