How Horses Learn, Feel & Communicate


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2019 Dates Coming Soon

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This is a comprehensive tutor-led online course lasting 12 weeks.

Whilst the content as per the outline sounds a little dry and entirely theory based, it really isn’t at all!

The whole course content has been designed to be a fun, educational means of exploring the different learning procedures, which are vividly brought to life in a way that is really easy to understand via real-life practical examples and first-hand training scenarios/experiences. Video footage is abundant throughout the course.

Optional home study is set for each module and self assessment as you move through is provided through quizzes.



Skill Level No previous knowledge in these topics required. A good all round practical experience of equine management and training is useful
Number of modules 6
Total Hours 25 / 45 – dependent on student input
Course Duration 3 months with tutor support – 2 weeks per module
No Attendance Required Conducted by home study + ability to access a horse locally for the optional final module’s home study
  • The course offers free tutor support and approximately 25-45 hours of study time – depending on student input
  • 6 modules
  • Multiple learning styles and home study
  • Self assessment through quizzes
  • Optional final online assignment (tutor assessed and required for certification)
  • Your tutor provides continuous feedback and support – plenty of help therefore if you want a certificate


Entirely online through video lectures in the classroom and the private Facebook support group provided. Each Module’s material is released at the beginning of it’s two week period and remains for the entirety of the course.

Course Outline

Course Outline

Module 1 – Learning Theory – Operant Conditioning

  • Scientific study of Behaviour – Psychology
  • Learning Theory and Motivations
  • Quadrants of Operant Conditioning
  • Appetitives and Aversives
  • Freedom of choice

Module 2 – Learning Theory – Classical Conditioning

  • What is Classical Conditioning
  • Innate, involuntary reflexes
  • The scientific research
  • Positive reinforcement training – the bridge signal
  • The stages of Classical Conditioning

Module 3 – Learning Theory – Habituation & Flooding

  • What is habituation
  • The FEAR reflexes – fear potentiated startle reflex, freeze, flight, fight, faint
  • Escape & avoidance responses in a prey animal
  • Systematic Desensitisation
  • Thresholds
  • Risks with habituation
    • Sensitisation
    • Flooding
    • Learned Helplessness & psychological disorders
    • Negative reinforcement of escape behaviours
    • Conditioned fear

Module 4 – Affective Neuroscience – Emotions

  • Why emotions matter
  • Dr Jaak Panksepp – the blue ribbon core emotions
    • Primal emotional circuits
    • Social emotional circuits
  • A look at Aversive emotions
  • A look at Appetitive emotions

Module 5 – Equine Ethology – Body Language Communications

  • Introduction to equine communication
  • Aversive ‘feel bad’ body language
    • Behaviour expressions of alarm
    • Agonistic behaviours
    • Stress/calming signals
  • Appetitive ‘feel good’ body language
    • Affiliative behaviours
    • Relaxed, happy ethogram

Module 6 – Behaviour Modification – Systematic Desensitisation & Counter Conditioning with Equines

  • What is modern horse training?
  • Ethical training protocols for modifying any behaviour that involves any kind of arousal or emotional reaction
  • Why are fears and anxieties best to be avoided in horses?
  • Why use appetitives such as food to train?
  • Learn how to shift a horses emotions in a more positive direction
  • Create calmness, curiosity, interest, confidence, happiness and contentment in your horse and enable time spent with you to be genuinely enjoyable, pleasurable and fun for you both – whatever your goal!

Taster Videos

Check out Part 1 of our taster videos about this course. In this video, Jo introduces Equine Ethology – the scientific study of the horse’s behaviour in its natural environment.

In Module 5 of the course, we delve into this area and learn all about equine body language communications.

The presence of equine play behaviours are a sign of an individual’s well-being and good welfare.

Learn more about the innate primary brain function of PLAY in our How Horses Learn, Feel & Communicate online course.

The Academy is the ONLY one of it’s kind – offering horse owners worldwide the opportunity to learn about up-to-date training protocols and, possibly more importantly, exactly HOW to apply them to horses through our online home study courses.

Learn more about how modern behaviour scientists help horses to overcome feelings of fear and anxiousness in the 21st Century.


  1. admin

    Loving the depths of analysis here for habituation and flooding – Debbie Busby

  2. admin

    Oh Jo, you have no idea how powerful the How Horses Learn, Feel & Communicate course is. You have this amazing ability to gather a lot of information and then put into a format that makes sense of it all in a way that is easy to understand, but the subject matter is still huge! You literally compress it into bite size chunks for us to digest at which point it expands. You are amazing! – Heather Richardson

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