Module: Equine Behaviour and Welfare

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Andrew Hemmings
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    150 hours
  • Contact hrs

    30 hours
  • Teaching Period

    Semester 1

Module content

The ethology of the horse will be considered, inclusive of topics such as feral behaviour and herd dynamics. As the module progresses, equid behaviour and welfare will be analysed within the domestic confines, with a focus on the development of abnormal behaviours such as stereotypies. Moreover, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the relationship between stress, genotype and altered brain function. Finally, a detailed critique will be undertaken, of legislative mechanisms designed to protect equine welfare in the 21st century. 

Module outcomes

To achieve credit for this module, students must be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the most recent research into brain structure and function.
  2. Give a reasoned opinion based on evidence of current welfare issues and legislation within the Equine Industry.
  3. Critically appraise breaking and training techniques based on ethological and learning studies to optimise equine husbandry and welfare.
  4. Present an in depth analysis of the relationship between genotype, stress and abnormal behavioural output. 


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework Essay 100%

Key texts

Students should be familiar with the content of at least one of the following:

  • Carlson, N.R. (2010) Physiology of behavior 10th edn. Allyn and Bacon.
  • Hemmings, A.J.(2012) A glimpse into the future of genetic screening. Equine Health. Vol. 2 20-21
  • Hemmings, A.J. (2013) Breeding in the feral state. Equine Health. Vol. 3 19 -21
  • Hemmings, A.J., McBride S.D. and Hale, C.E. (2007). Perseverative responding and the aetiology of equine oral stereotypy. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Vol. 104, 143-159.
  • Hemmings, A.J. (2004). The putative reward value of equine stereotypy. In Emerging Equine Science pp67-79. Nottingham University Press.
  • Hogg, A. (2009) Horse behaviour exposed David & Charles.
  • McBride, S.D. and Hemmings A.J. (2009). A neurologic perspective of equine stereotypy. Journal of Equine Veterinary Research. Vol. 155, 266 – 278.
  • Mills, D.S. and McDonnell, S.M. (2005). The Domestic Horse: The Origins, Development and Management of its Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
  • National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC). (2009). Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys. (3rd edition). NEWC.