Application of Equine Learning Theory


This page contains of lot of information. All of which you should read if you would like to apply. The shortcut list below is just for ease, for those seeking quick answers to key questions:

  •  This course covers equine learning theory and how to apply it to the equine patient. It shows insight into the world of equine learning theory, which enables the practitioner to work with an accurate understanding of the equine patient. This knowledge radically enhances the efficacy of assessment and treatment, through the application of a skill set that so many manual therapists fail to learn;
  • It is open to all those who work therapeutically with animals or in a veterinary setting;
  • It is an online course with elements of home study and practice;
  • There will be an end of module quiz-style assessment for all students;
  • Those wishing to use the module as part of the Master Practitioner Pathway, must inform us at the start of the module and an additional assignment will be required for the module to count toward your qualification;
  • The standalone module costs £120.00 (plus local taxes where application). There is however, an additional examination fee for those undertaking the Master Practitioner pathway;
  • Students must complete ALL aspects of the course and assessments to be given a Certificate of Completion.

As a standalone CPD event – total hours: 10 hours. This is the course without assignments – formative or summative.

Price: £120.00 (plus local taxes where applicable)

Studied as part of the Master Practitioner pathway: 20 hours. This includes taught content, directed home-based activities, assignments and self-directed learning. Additional fees apply.

Your Lecturer: Bettina Hvidemose

Behaviourist and Animal Osteopath – Denmark

Bettina is an animal behaviour therapist and manual therapist/osteopath based in Hirtshals, Denmark. Together with her team of colleagues she runs “Center for Animal Therapy” offering animal training, behavioural consultations, manual treatments and rehabilitation for dogs and horses. In addition, Bettina and her team teach a variety of courses within the field.

Bettina graduated her BSc in Applied Animal Behavior in 2006 and has a special interest in the result of physical challenges on animal behaviour, (and thus, how many behavioural issues are actually the consequence of pain and/or physical restrictions). Following her interest, Bettina went on to expand her knowledge of physical medicine for animals, the biomechanics and the treatment thereof, so that she now holds qualifications, not only in animal behaviour but also in various approaches to manual therapy. In 2018, Bettina completed the Level 1 and 2 pathways, (both canine and equine) with Animal Osteopathy International and is now a member of the international teaching team. 

Bettina is passionate about improving animal welfare from a holistic point of view, including mind and body. Dogs, horses and cats are included in Bettina’s everyday practice and teaching field. As a curiosity, she also works with marine mammals, applying ethology and learning theory to enrichment and husbandry training for seals.

How will this help you as a practitioner?

  • Develop your understanding of horse behaviour and the equine brain;
  • Learn how to communicate with your equine patient in a way that helps you both;
  • Improve cooperation with your equine patient so that treatment is more effective;
  • Explore the types of learning theory and how to apply these in practice;
  • Learn how to increase wanted (and decrease unwanted) equine behaviour;
  • Recognise that not everything you see is physical and maybe a behavioural issue that needs attention;
  • Optimise equine-human communication to decrease stress and misunderstandings;
  • How to communicate information to owners;
  • Be guided through practical examples to apply your knowledge;
  • Utilise this new knowledge to educate owners.
  • Enhance your own practice – give yourself knowledge that helps you stand apart from other MSK practitioners.

Who can apply?

This course is open to all equine-related professionals and vets. Please note that there is an owner’s version of this course that can be found HERE.

Interested in this course?

If you’re keen to take this course and have watched the Fireside Chat video on Vimeo, you are welcome to purchase using the button below. If however, you have questions or wish to use the course as an addition to your existing AOI studies, please drop us a line first, on

Module structure and online expectations

This course will be delivered online, via our platform. As such, students must be able to ensure internet connectivity. AOI will not be held responsible for internet failure or that of poor signal.

International Students & English Requirements

We are happy to take national and international students but you MUST be proficient in all aspects of the English language (both written and spoken), so as to ensure that you can engage fully with the course and its contents. The AOI will not be held responsible for any language challenges that arise and no refunds will be made on these grounds.


Those who successfully complete this module will be awarded a digital AOI Certificate of Completion. Students on the Master Practitioner pathway, can use the hours toward their qualification, but this intention must be expressed at the time of purchase. Examination fees apply and will be additional. 

Indicative Content

  • Introduction to the course;
  • What is learning theory & why is it important to understand learning theory when practicing animal osteopathy?
  • Ethology and learning theory: 
  • What is etholoy? And why is it important in relation to learning theory?
  • Equine – human interaction;
  • The equine brain;
  • Main differences and similarities between the human and the equine brain and how is this knowledge relevant to us? 
  • Learning theoretical concepts;
  • Overview of operant and classical conditioning;
  • Operant conditioning;
  • How behavior and consequences interact and influence each other 
  • The concepts of reinforcement and punishment;
  • The four types of consequences;
  • How can knowledge of operant conditioning be beneficial in osteopathic practice?
  • What can go wrong? 
  • Classical conditioning;
  • The concept of associations;
  • Conditioning of a previously neutral stimulus;
  • Pros and cons in classical conditioning;
  • How can knowledge of operant conditioning be beneficial in osteopathic practice?
  • What can go wrong? 
  • Combining operant and classical condition in successful practice
  • Shaping; 
  • Timing;
  • Practical applications – examples and analysis:
  • Handling Hooves;
  • Handling Ears;
  • Using Treats;
  • Target training and walking on different surfaces;
  • Another use of targeting: Play ball;
  • Responding to signals in the rope;
  • Trailer-loading;
  • Riding;
  • Stepping over a pole;
  • Section nine: Communicating learning theoretical knowledge to owners;
  • Section ten: Wrapping up and further reading;
  • Develop your understanding of horse behaviour and the equine brain;
  • Improve cooperation with your equine patient;
  • Explore the types of learning theory and how to apply these;
  • Learn how to increase wanted and decrease unwanted horse behaviour
  • Optimize equine-human communication and decrease stress and misunderstandings;
  • How to communicate information to owners;
  • Be guided through practical examples to apply your knowledge.