Course at a glance


This diploma 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.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will gain knowledge in psychology
  • Evolution in horses and their behaviour
  • Reproductive behaviour
  • Psychology and theories of behaviour modification in horses

This course consists of Ten Units and is a qualification awarded by Oxford Learning College, in its own right; with the quality assurance of a leading awarding body (CIE Global) that hallmarks this professional qualification.

Assessment Objectives (AO)

AO: 1

Students must select and demonstrate clearly relevant knowledge and understanding through the use of evidence, examples and correct language and terminology appropriate to the course of study. This assessment, involves two written assignments: one halfway through the course and following the final unit. Both are assessed and graded by the assigned tutor, according to college procedures. The grading procedure if Pass or Fail. If you Fail an assessment you have the opportunity to amend where your tutor has highlighted and resubmit.

AO: 2

Students must critically evaluate and justify a point of view through the use of evidence and reasoned argument. Students can include evidence in different formats to support their written work such as documentation or images to support their course remembering Confidentiality and Data Protection.

Quality of Written Communication (QWC)

In addition, OLC require students’ to produce written material in English, candidates must: ensure that text is legible and that spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPG) are accurate so that meaning is clear; select and use a form and style of writing appropriate to studying a complex subject matter; organise information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary when appropriate and Harvard referencing of citation and sources. In this Specification, SPG will be assessed in all tutor marked assignments (TMAs)

To ensure that we maintain quality standards; all our students written assignments are subject to our plagiarism policy and procedure.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Entry Requirement

Entry to this Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma requires that potential students have gained GCSE/IGCSE or equivalent qualifications and have, good English oral, reading and writing skills.

Advice on enrolment and guidance of prior learning (APL) can be obtained through out contact centre. The course is a rolling programme and can be started at any point in the year. Successful students can go on to Higher Education, including remaining as students at OLC to complete courses in our portfolio of higher awards.

All students must be aged 16 or over.


The coursework is assessed through continuous assessment with no formal exit examinations.

Study Hours

Approximately: 200 hours of personal study time for the entire course is recommended. All of which is supported by the OLC Course Tutor, who we greatly encourage students to access support from throughout their course.

Quality Assurance

This course has been developed by the College’s professional team of tutors to meet the needs of sector based employers and employees. It is also part of the College’s validated level three Diplomas’, recognised internationally, as verified and moderated Centre for Interactive Education (CIE Global). Further details of our accreditations are provided on our website.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Course Length

1 Year.

Awarding Body


Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Course Content

The whole level three diploma has TEN specific units of study, which are sub-divided into topic areas these are:

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 1: An Overview of Psychology

The first unit introduces 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 2: Evolution of the Horse and Behaviour

The unit will review how 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 3: Learning Theory

Within this unit you will look at equine behaviour and how it 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 4: Sexual and Reproductive Behaviour

This unit helps to review 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 5: The Psychology of the Young Horse

In this unit you will be exploring 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 6: Natural Equine Behaviour

This unit will examine how 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 7: Equine Behaviour in the Managed Environment

Here we will examine 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 8: The Causes of Problem Behaviour

In this module we will cover how 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 9: Dealing with Problem Behaviour

In this unit we will gain an understanding in reasons for problems in behaviour, looking at 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.

Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma Unit 10: Training Horses using Psychology

Your last unit will review 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.


This Accredited Level 3 Equine Psychology Diploma can be used to gain entry to a Level 4 Diploma or higher.