‘How Horses Learn’ – Short Course Review

'How Horses Learn' Short Course - reviewed by Mel

I LOVE learning about anything horse related!

It's not just practical lessons either, I really enjoy learning about equine theory as well. However, all the previous theory I've learnt has been slightly dry... horse anatomy and that sort of thing. 

I've been following Australian Equine Behavioural Centre and Equitation Science International on social media for some time. Naturally I jumped at this chance to test out their short course ‘How horses learn’.

When it comes to horse behaviour,  I've just picked knowledge up from my own observations and experiences. Sometimes I'd get little bits here and there from other horse people (but you've always gotta take that with a grain of salt...)

My horse, Spide is a youngster - so I figured that the more knowledge I can get about horse quirks and behaviour the better!

The 'How Horses Learn' course was excellent and I came away with a new tricks up my sleeve. Even better that I could try out what I learnt straight away.  

In addition, it was comforting to know that the course confirmed some of the things I already practice. 


Without giving away all the whole course content - these are a few of the 'stand out' things I came away with:  

  • Approach based conditioning.

What it actually is and how to use it.  

With this advice I could start working straight away to get Spide over his (intense) fear of bicycles. 

  • Instant stress relief for horses

This section included a tip on how to instantly lower a horse's heart rate by up to 10 beats per minute.

Soooo handy with a nervy horse like mine!


  • How to teach a horse new (and sometimes scary) things.

This topic was about understanding how horses use the memory of precise events to shape how they approach a new task.

In future, I plan to start eventing with Spide so it was pretty helpful that the main example was about training a horse to accept water jumps.

  • Understanding 'erratic' horses

For me, this was the biggest ‘take home’ section - as it can be used in so many situations and training scenarios. I have seen so many riders become frustrated when their horse is seemingly afraid (or naughty) for no reason.


'How Horses Learn' Course Details

The great thing about an online course is that you can complete it at your own pace, take notes and go away and come back to it. It's pretty perfect for a rainy day activity 😀 

The drawback is that obviously you cant ask questions and have a discussion -- as you would in person. 

The only negative I found with the course itself was during stage 4: ‘How He Moves’. A reference card was said to be available to download however upon trying to do this I was taken to a new tab ‘page not available’. 

(Ed Note: Technology can be a bugger sometimes - this link has now been fixed 🙂 

Overall I would recommend this course to anybody. Regardless of whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider looking for a fresh approach. 

Even more so, I think this course would be a fantastic addition to Pony Club curriculum, perhaps with an added module targeted to high school ages.

Come to think of it, when I was growing up I cant remember a single time where the horses brain came into any of the lessons I had.

This course is highly recommended for anyone interested in the behaviour and wellbeing of their horse! 

Course Details

How Horses Learn is an essential one hour theory-based course for riders, coaches and trainers of all levels and disciplines.

Entry Requirements: Nil

Enrolment & Payment: Enrolment is automatic and you can begin at any time. 

Cost: $79.99 (AUD)

For further information: Please visit the course page here.

Equitation Science International

ESI is an Australia based Registered Training Organisation dedicated to educating riders, coaches and trainers about evidence based horse training.

ESI  have accredited qualifications and short courses available both online and residentially. Students of ESI make their careers in coaching and training, or many just use the knowledge to advance their already active career in biomechanics, veterinary, therapy, as well as just their every day riding.

Visit the website here for more information about current courses

More about Mel

I’m getting back into riding after about a 7 year break. I recently purchased a 4yo ASH 'Ghostgum Macey's Memory' aka Spide. 

I've always been a bit of an allrounder mainly hacking and ASH events. In future I will get into eventing as it’s what i’ve always wanted to do!

Read Mel's full profile here

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