Diploma in Equine Psychology


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Diploma in Equine Psychology

Why Oxford Learning College


The study of animal behaviour is now a recognised science. This Equine Psychology course is aimed at those with an interest in psychology and the way that horses behave, and how psychology can be used when handling, training and riding horses. In order to study equine psychology, the historic and general study of human psychology is first looked at, and built on to this is the specific issues that affect and impact upon horses. This will help improve the understanding and relationship that is built when living and working with horses.


Course Content:

Module 1 - An overview of psychology


The Equine Psychology course introduces the general principles of psychology in order to provide a foundation for the rest of the course. It covers the development of psychology as a science and how the mind, intelligence and cognition are defined in the different branches of human psychology. The different approaches to studying psychology, behaviour and some of the main psychological theories and well known scientists, and how these can be applied to animals and to horses in particular are studied. This module ends with a look at the history of the study of psychology, including the findings from the study of equines and other species, the arising trends and patterns.


Module 2 - Evolution of the horse and behaviour


Horses are one of the domesticated animals used for work, pleasure as recreational activities, sport and transport in the last 10,000 years. This unit covers the evolution of the horse and the development of the different breeds, and how this is related to the behaviour of the horse. The basics of genetics and inheritance of characteristics, the theory of evolution, and natural and artificial selection are covered in the guise of selective breeding. The history of domestication of the horse and the development of the different breeds to form certain characteristics of horse are discussed. How breed differences can affect the temperament and behaviour of a horse is studied as this affects their role and performance, so the evolution of the horse and the different breeds and different evolutionary theories is important to be studied.


Module 3 - Learning Theory


Although undoubtedly a lot of equine behaviour is instinctive, much of it is also learned, through life experiences or through deliberate training. This unit examines in detail how horses learn, are taught or trained and what impacts on this process. How psychologists have developed their theories of learning through experimentation is discussed. Environmental effects on learning, types of reinforcement such as the use of punishment and constraints on learning are discussed. How memory is important for learning to take place is explored.


Module 4 - Sexual and reproductive behaviour


Following on from discussing genetics to breed horses, the behaviour of horses can be affected by the process of reproduction, in terms of sexual behaviour of mares and stallions, and the nurturing shown by a mare towards her foal. Animals especially the males often show courtship and mating rituals, dances or behaviours. The hormonal changes occurring at puberty and the hormones involved in reproduction and their effects on behaviour, for both mares and stallions is studied. The oestrus cycle of the mare and how behaviour is affected throughout the cycle is explored. Specific issues are investigated such as pregnancy and nursing a foal, the effects of castration (gelding) on behaviour and the normal behaviour of a new-born foal.


Module 5 - The psychology of the young horse


Horses are born needing some care from their mothers, but are much more independent than human young. The previous unit looks at the sexual and reproductive behaviour of the horse, and also the very early behaviour seen in a new-born foal. This unit carries on from there and covers the behaviour and psychology of the young horse as it develops, learns and grows. It starts by looking at the normal behaviour of a new-born foal, its innate behavioural development and the rejection of a foal by a mare, and the problems that can occur when hand rearing foals. The social ranking of a mare within a herd, under domesticated environments and how this can affect the behaviour of her foal is discussed. How a foal learns and makes associations, the procedure of weaning and separating foals from their clans, and the psychological impact of this can influence some of the early handling and training (breaking) that can be carried out with a young horse, so this must be addressed.


Module 6 - Natural equine behaviour


Horses are instinctive animals that rely mainly on their senses as they need this to protect themselves from prey in the wild. A lot can be learned about the natural behaviour of horses by studying ethology, the observation of animals within their natural environment. By watching a herd of feral equines, which behaviours are natural ones can be determined, and so does not cover the behaviour that is a direct result of training by humans, or that may be a direct result of life in a domesticated environment. Identifying the types of behaviours that are innate, how the various systems (senses, nervous and the endocrine systems) affect, influences and control behaviour are explored. The social structure of a natural herd and the ways horses communicate with each other is studied.


Module 7 - Equine behaviour in the managed environment


The way horses behave in the wild may not be the same as within the human managed environment. The domestication of the horse and the different ways that horses are used for work, sport and recreation affects how they are kept. The way that artificial management are used to best enable and feeding techniques are in contrast to a natural lifestyle is discussed. The reasons why a natural lifestyle may not always be in the best interests of a domesticated horse are explored. This unit covers the tack and gadgets that may be used when riding or handling horses.


Module 8 - The causes of problem behaviour


When we adopt animals from the wild and domesticate them, we alter their behaviour. Although horses are very adaptable, the environment in which they live may sometimes influence their behaviour, and could be the cause of some problem behaviour. The first thing to learn is what is normal and abnormal in terms of behaviour. Some common behavioural problems and the possible reasons behind them are examined. The internal effects on behaviour, such as hormones, health or genetics, or the effects of pain are discussed. The possible effects of diet, the environment (such as confinement or social interaction) and other factors on behaviour are addressed. The learning element behind some problem behaviour and the ways that humans could influence the behaviour of horses through the giving of confusing signals is studied.


Module 9 - Dealing with problem behaviour


I n order to deal effectively with problems, we first need to understand why they are occurring. Without finding out the real cause, we are at best just masking the symptoms, and at worst we may be causing distress to the horse and impacting upon its welfare. Failing to address behavioural problems in horses could lead to an escalation of the problem, which could even potentially become dangerous. Some of the techniques that can be used to find out the causes of behaviour and the ways that problem behaviour can be dealt with are examined. It includes a different variety of methods that are currently employed, including traditional methods of preventing stereotypical behaviour. It should also be remembered that a solution that works for one horse may not be suitable in every case. Altering the managed environment to reduce behavioural problems and ways of dealing with common handling and riding problems are discussed, e.g. thought must be given to keeping horses stabled although they may need or prefer more freedom.


Module 10 - Training horses using psychology


As with children, the way horses are managed and the expertise and knowledge of the owners influence how they learn. Different ways of training horses is compared with traditional methods e.g. punishment often seen to be negative with some of the alternative methods. The ways horses learn and knowledge of learning theory can improve training techniques. Techniques such as working on the lunge, and free schooling, natural horsemanship methods, and a look at how the natural behaviour of the horse can be used to obtain results is examined. The body language of the horse and how it can be used to assess the training being given as well as the rider’s attitude and how this can affect equine behaviour is discussed from a psychological perspective.


Diploma in Equine Science


The management of equines requires a basic grounding and emphasis on scientific aspects. People with an interest or wishing to work in equine life will also find this course very appealing as it covers everything needed to know about horses from what they eat, how this food is digested and waste removed, to their overarching behaviour. This Level 3 Diploma course is aimed at improving the knowledge base of owners, breeders/exhibitors and those involved with horses professionally.

Entry Requirements

All students must be 16 years of age and above.

Level 3 Diploma courses require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order that students can manage their studies and the assumed knowledge within course content.

Study Hours

Approximately 20 hours per unit

Assessment Method

Final online multiple choice examination.

Please note that you can enrol on this course at anytime.


Diploma in Equine Psychology

This course is Quality Assured by the Quality Licence Scheme
Quality Assured by QLS

At the end of this course successful learners will receive an e-Certificate from Oxford Learning College. There is also the option to purchase an Embossed Certificate and also a certificate from ABC Awards for the qualification.

The course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards Quality Licence Scheme. This means that Oxford Learning College has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the organisation and the courses it offers, meet certain quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to an Ofqual regulated qualification but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills towards regulated qualifications in the future.

The unit summary can be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this sector. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 3 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the learner.

The course itself has been designed by Oxford Learning College to meet specific learners' and/or employers' requirements which cannot be satisfied through current regulated qualifications. ABC Awards endorsement involves robust and rigorous quality audits by external auditors to ensure quality is continually met. A review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process.

ABC Awards is a leading national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, and the Welsh Government. It has a long-established reputation for developing and awarding high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries. As a registered charity, ABC Awards combines 180 years of expertise but also implements a responsive, flexible and innovative approach to the needs of our customers. Renowned for excellent customer service, and quality standards, ABC Awards also offers Ofqual regulated qualifications for all ages and abilities post-14; all are developed with the support of relevant stakeholders to ensure that they meet the needs and standards of employers across the UK.

How can I progress

For more information on how to progress after completing this course, please click here

Additional Information

You will receive a certificate from the College. A digital version is included in the price and will be emailed to you within 5 days of taking your online exam.

Should you require an embossed hard copy of your certificate to be sent to you by Special Delivery post, you can order this separately after taking your exam.

The course can be enrolled upon by students Internationally. There are no deadlines for enrolments.

To view the differences between our qualifications, please click HERE

What's Included

Online study materials to enable the student to successfully complete the Diploma. Support is provided by the tutor department for the duration of the course (1 year). Certification upon completion. All examination fees.

Course Fee


Payment by Instalments

Students are able to pay course fees in monthly instalments. Click here to download our instalment plan.

Further Information

The Quality Assured Diploma is a Level 3 equivalent on the National Qualifications Framework. The Diploma is a 1 year course which is self study and is examined by online examination. The Diploma is awarded by Oxford College. Upon completion of the course you will receive certification awarded by Oxford College.

The Level 3 Diplomas require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order to for students to manage study and the assumed knowledge within course content.

They provide an ability to gain and apply a range of knowledge, skills and understanding in a specific subject at a detailed level. Level 3 qualifications such as A levels, NVQ3, BTEC Diplomas etc. are appropriate if you plan to progress to university study.

Level 3 Diploma courses can assist you in career development, continued professional development, personal development, and provision of a basis for further study.

Progression from Level 3 is to specialist learning and detailed analysis of a higher level of information (for example university level study, Diploma Level 5 study).

Your course is delivered online via the Oxford Learning On Campus website.

This is a flexible learning course, so the more time you have to commit to your studies, the sooner you are able to complete.

In the student 'On Campus' you are also able to take part in the student chat room and forums as part of our online student community.

After enrolling online you will receive your username and password to access the On Campus area within 3 working days.

Materials and support provided by Oxford Learning. Oxford Learning

For more information please visit our FAQ page.

Overall rating 5 out of 5 based on 3 student reviews

Very interesting course, well written and easy to follow. I enjoyed doing this course immensely. The format is very user friendly and the response to my assessments was quick and helpful. I would highly recommend Oxford College Level 3 Diploma\'s.

Rating: 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Really enjoyed studying this course and now feel that I have a better and clearer understanding, would love to do another course in the same area but unfortunately funds limit me from taking a BTEC and there are no more suitable courses at present in the Equine field x

Rating: 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
This was a wonderful course to participate in. The materials were well written, organized, and correct. The study allowed for your personal opinion and experience, while ensuring you incorporate behavioural science. The tutor who marked my work did so in a very friendly, and timely manner. It was a pleasure to learn from Oxford.

Rating: 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 31 December, 2010.

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