The first PhD course in Equitation Science

My colleague Dr. Elke Hartmann and I are organising the first PhD course in Equitation Science!

The course is a NOVA course, and currently closed for applications. It will run on 12-16 Aug. 2019, at the National Equestrian Centre Strömsholm, Sweden.

Course Description
The course provides an in depth theoretical/practical knowledge at advanced level of horse behaviour/learning and its consequences for horse welfare and human-horse interactions. The course is designed to develop the participants’ scientific skills and ability to utilize an evidence-based approach when dealing with horses.

The course provides participants with scientific and practical tools with which they can validate human-horse interactions to identify training methods which are ethical, effective and highlight those which represent problems for horse welfare.

Programme Outline

  • Day 1: Introduction equitation science (history, animal rights/welfare) | Equine ethology (behaviour, instincts, biological niche, maintenance behaviour, behavioural needs, domestication, breeding) | Equine perception, communication (senses, social organisation/behaviour)
  • Day 2: Applied ethology (adaptability, umwelt, rationale for studying behaviour, ethogram, anthropomorphism, dominance-leadership concepts, housing, legislation)
  • Day 3: Equine cognition, learning (perception, nervous system, neural control of emotions, learning theory, social learning, stress/pain and learning, motivation) | Influences on performance (biomechanics, laterality, temperament, conformation)
  • Day 4: Applied learning theory (unwanted behaviour, safety, shaping, habit formation, predictability/controllability, equipment, training principles, emotions and learning, ethical equitation), Workshop
  • Day 5: Research methods and communication

Main Teachers

  • Dr Elke Hartmann (SLU, Department of Animal Environment and Health)
  • Dr Maria V Rørvang (SLU, Department of Biosystems and Technology)
  • Ass Prof Janne Winther Christensen (Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Tjele, Denmark)
  • Prof Paul McGreevy (University of Sydney, Sydney School of Veterinary Science)

The plan is that the course will be an annual reoccurring course.

For information about the course for 2020, please don’t hesitate to contact us ( Or visit the course homepage:



Swedish media release:

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