Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Understanding Equine Action: from Anatomy to Behaviour
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  (3000 words)  30%
Semester Assessment Oral Viva  15 minute Oral Viva  20%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written exam  Written exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary Assessment  Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module (Anatomy MCQ: 20%; Anatomy Essay 30%)  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Supplementary Examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of the major anatomical structures that comprise the head, the locomotory, cardiovascular and respiratory systems of the horse.

2. Discuss the functional aspects of the gross and histological anatomy associated with each of the systems and how they interact and complement each other's performance.

3. Critically assess the ontogeny of equine behaviour, the motivation of behaviour, the role of the senses, particularly in relation to learning and abnormal behaviour.

4. Critically evaluate the link between animal welfare and behaviour with particular reference to the horse.

5. Critically evaluate current research developments in equine behaviour studies.

Brief description

This module will combine equine anatomy and behavior. The anatomy component will be presented as a lecture course with two four-hour dissections and one live horse practical (dependent on material available), and will be supported by presentations on exercise physiology at the Gregynog equine colloquium. It will consider classification and evolution of the equid, the skeletal structure of the head, locomotory, cardiovascular and respiratory systems along with muscle structure, and function specifically related to movement. The second part of this module focuses on the ontogeny of equine behaviour, behavioural motivation, the role of the senses, learning and abnormal behaviour. This will develop on to the recognition of the major behavioural abnormalities in the domestic horse. Animal welfare issues including bioethics, behavioural needs, suffering, cruelty, stress and legislation will also be discussed.


The aims of this module will be two-fold: To provide a detailed understanding of the structures and functions of the major body structures and how anatomy limits and allows advanced equine performance. To provide an understanding of equine behavior and learning and so allow the student to recognize equine major behavioural abnormalities and have an awareness of animal welfare issues including bioethics, behavioural needs, suffering, cruelty, stress and relevant aspects of animal welfare legislation.


A series of approximately 14 lectures and 7 practicals and student seminars.

Lectures will cover the following topics :

  • Evolution of the horse; anatomy and behavior - 1 lecture
  • Introduction to anatomy; terminology - 1 lecture
  • Appendicular attachment - 1 lecture
  • Musculo-skeletal anatomy: Head - 1 lecture
  • Musculo-skeletal anatomy: neck and back - 1 lecture
  • Musculo-skeletal anatomy: Forelimb and Equine hoof - 1 lecture
  • Musculo-skeletal anatomy: Hindlimb - 1 lecture
  • Muscle and movement - 1 lecture
  • Introduction including measuring behavior - 1 lecture
  • Neurophysiology of behavior - 1 lecture
  • Stereotypy: causes, prevention and alleviation - 1 lecture
  • Learning Theory and its application to horse management - 1 lecture
  • Equine temperament - 1 lecture
  • Equine welfare - 1 lecture
  • Practicals will cover the following topics:
  • Whole horse dissection (8hrs independent of timetable)
  • Head anatomy
  • Forelimb anatomy
  • Hindlimb anatomy
  • Hoof anatomy
  • Learning behavior - 1
  • Learning behavior - 2

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will be required to write an essay which presents information precisely and concisely in a clear and informative manner. The essay/assignment will require all source material to be fully referenced and a full bibliography will be expected. As such, their written skills will be directly assessed. The presentation of information in the form of a scientific poster will provide an opportunity to develop and be assessed in an alternative form of communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance Detailed feedback will be given for essay/poster providing students with detailed guidance on how to improve their work and learning.
Information Technology To complete the coursework assessment students will have to obtain information from a variety of sources including books, web sites, scientific publication data bases etc. This will involve the use of IT to compile the finished report as well as retrieve relevant information. The scientific poster will be submitted in power point.
Personal Development and Career planning N/A
Problem solving The essay will promote investigative and problem solving skills.
Research skills Students will be required to include critical analysis and evaluation of current research in their essay and poster, as such their research skills will be developed.
Subject Specific Skills A detailed understanding of equine anatomy and behaviour and its fundamental importance in equine welfare.
Team work Students will work in small groups during the dissection practicals.


This module is at CQFW Level 7