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Advanced Equine Behaviour

Date(s) - September 10, 2018 - December 2, 2018
This is an online course


Advanced Equine Behaviour online course photoAdvanced Equine Behaviour

Finding out just why horses do the things they do is the focus of Advanced Equine Behaviour. The field of horse behaviour and welfare has exploded with research in the last 10 years. Course Instructor Lindsay Nakonechny will show you where to find the latest research and help you to develop the skills to critically assess and apply what you learn to real life situations.

This course will provide you with a depth of knowledge on equine behaviour, learning and related welfare issues. During the course you will observe a horses behaviour over time and activity, design a training activity to teach a new behaviour, create a behaviour evaluation checklist to make a well-informed evaluation of a presenting behaviour – along with other activities – with the result of developing several tools and resources aimed at analysing, evaluating, and creating management practices that work for the horses in our care and based on the evidence available to us. Understanding abnormal behaviour of horses and the management decisions that contribute to them will be a part of assessing and evaluating current management practices.

You will have the opportunity to research a current or special topic in equine behaviour research as part of your work in this course. Past students have researched horse learning theory, horse psychology and behaviour, rehabilitating the abused and neglected horse and the effects of back pain on behaviour.

Learning OutcomesEvaluationInstructorRegistration

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Interpret a horse’s behaviour in a given situation using physiological, physical, social, and behavioural information
  2. Identify potential causes and generate appropriate solutions for such behaviour to improve the horse’s welfare.
  3. Systematically evaluate management practices
  4. Interpret, analyze, and critique behavioural research reports and methods
  5. Locate, access, and evaluate sources of behavioural research & industry data
  6. Effectively report and assemble research data in a written paper and presentation

The Advanced Equine Behaviour course has a number of activities which will have you immersed in the latest research. Individually and through group discussion you will complete learning tasks such as conducting behaviour observations, horse learning task, and case study analysis.

Your grade will be assessed through these activities:

Discussion Participation (25%): Participating in the weekly discussion questions with other students as well as providing feedback and critique through a peer review process to student presenting their research.

Behaviour Research E-Portfolio (25%): An e-portfolio is a collection of assignments and activities you have completed during the course and demonstrates your development in understanding equine behaviour and welfare, and the application of evidence-based knowledge to this topic.

Research project in two parts: The intention of the research project  is to not only educate on a behavioural topic and the research process, but also to produce an informative product of which you can be proud to share with your peers, youth groups, clients, managers, trainers, etc.

Part 1 (30%): You will choose a behaviour topic presented by the instructor or on your own topic of interest and conduct research writing a literature review style paper.

Part 2 (20%): You will present your research to the class and lead a discussion.

Instructor: Kelly Hecker


Kelly Hecker’s academic journey started in Michigan State University’s Horse Management program – a program similar to this one offered by University of Guelph. Kelly is now a 3-time graduate of Michigan State University holding a master’s degree in equine behaviour and management, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a certificate in horse management.  She is also certified as a riding instructor through CHA (Certified Horsemanship Association) and PATH International (Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship).  In 2008, she was certified through ARPAS (American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists) as a Professional Equine Scientist.

In 2002, Kelly competed in the 1st Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment competition.  She later went on to serve as a judge for MSU’s 1st 4-H animal welfare judging contest, and developed the live equine behaviour scenario for the 2007 intercollegiate competition. Before joining the Equine Studies team with University of Guelph, Kelly taught courses for Oregon State University including: equine conformation and performance evaluation, introductory horse science, equine marketing, equestrian coaching, and numerous horsemanship classes.

Working in the horse industry since 1990, Kelly has trained and showed horses for USDF (lower level) and Arabian circuits, managed horses in riding stables and breeding farms, taught therapeutic riding and traditional lessons, and served as a 4-H leader & judge.  She also had the unusual opportunity to study firsthand the horse culture and welfare of equids in a 3rd-world country.  Kelly finds the direction of equine research and education optimistic and she aims to continue educating youth and adults alike in horsemanship, horse behaviour, and welfare.

This courses will be offered in the Fall 2018 Semester

Classes begin Monday, September 10, and end Sunday, December 2, 2018

Registration is limited to 45 students.

There are no international student fees and we welcome students from across the world.

To register for this advanced study course you will have completed an Equine Behaviour course through the Equine Studies program or at another post-secondary school (college or university).

To find out when the next course is offered visit our registration page for the Advanced Equine Behaviour course.

Advanced Equine Behaviour can be taken as an single course or as a required course in the Equine Welfare Certificate

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Advanced Equine Behaviour can be taken as an single course or as a required course in the Equine Welfare Certificate

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