Equine Cognition and Training - (15 credits)

This module examines how the horse learns, looking at theories of habituation and desensitisation, classical and operant conditioning, insight, social and observational learning. Building on this foundation of understanding we apply these key principles to how the horse learns in everyday situations to evaluate what type of learning is occurring so that we can identify how to get the training process right and where it may go wrong. Understanding the roles of positive and negative reinforcement and punishment are also studied in depth and practical examples of these methods are utilised to assess their efficacy, including clicker and target training. Evaluation of traditional and alternative training techniques, including natural horsemanship techniques is a key part of this module. The main criteria is to understand what learning methods are happening within the vast array of training styles available in today's industry and to evaluate their ethics in light of the scientific research available.