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Horse Behavior and Welfare

Topics: The Horse’s Natural Behavior, Horse Learning and Cognition, Training Psychology, Stereotypical Behavior, Common Behavioral Problems, Assessing Equine Welfare, Commonly Identified Welfare Concerns

Course Contact: Dr. Christine Skelly

For questions regarding this course, please contact Dr. Christine Skelly at

Course Overview

The Horse Behavior and Welfare course is based on the knowledge of equine experts at Michigan State University and nationally recognized equine professionals. In this class, you’ll find a wealth of resources for learning about horse behavior. You’ll learn about equine welfare and how it relates to horse management. Horse enthusiasts of all levels can benefit from this course, whether you are a horse breeder, trainer, owner of one horse — or even if you don’t own a horse!

Have you ever wondered why your horse chews on wood, or what your horse is trying to tell you through its tail movement? Learning about horse behavior can influence the way you interact with your horse and help you understand your horse’s reactions to certain situations. Through this course, you can explore topics relating to horse behavior, training psychology and equine welfare.

More specifically, you will learn about:

  • Horse senses

  • Horse body language

  • How a horse learns

  • Key factors for the foundation of training

  • Stereotypical behaviors

  • Managing vices

  • The definition of horse welfare

  • How to assess horse welfare

Each unit consists of an overview, informative topics including pictures and short video clips, plus optional activities. Activities include exercises you can complete by working with your own horse or observing other horses!

It will probably take you 4 to 6 hours to complete the course.

Course Format




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Registration Instructions

To register for this course you will need to create an account, sign in with your email/password, and complete the registration process. To watch a video tutorial, demonstrating an overview of the registration process, click on the following link: Online Course Registration Video Tutorial. Step-by-step instructions are below.


  1. Create your MSU Guest Account and PasswordCreate Your Account

  2. Login to the registration system with your Guest Account (your email) and Password: Horse Behavior and Welfare.

  3. Follow the instructions to register for the course. Upon registration, you will receive a receipt and instructions for accessing the course.

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Technical Assistance  

If you have any technical problems, please contact the Michigan State University IT Service Desk from 7am-12am Monday through Friday and 10am-12am on Saturday/Sunday, any day that the University is open.  

  • Phone: (517) 432-6200 

  • Phone (toll free): 1 (844) 678-6200 

  • Chat 

  • Email Web Form 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is my username/NETID? 
Your username (or NET ID) is the email address you used to create your account during registration (you use the same email address/password for registering and for taking the course). 


What URL do I go to for logging into the course? 
Go to: You will see the Michigan State University at the top of the page. Login with the email address and password you set during the registration process. 


I received a “not authenticated” response when trying to login – what do I do? 
A “not authenticated” message is typically an issue with a password not being entered correctly. 


I forgot my password – where can I reset it? 
If you need to reset your password at any time go to and select the option for "Need help Signing in." 

Course Overview Video

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