Carolin Ossenkop
Carolin Ossenkop

Horse handling to develop personal skills

TLC voucher project
Project member(s)
Dr C. Ossenkop (Carolin)
Project type


University education is up in a way that promotes learning and training cognitive skills. For developing professional and personal skills such as working together and dealing with insecurities, this form of education is insufficient. How can handling horses help in learning such skills?

Within their study programme, students are expected to learn personal and professional skills such as working together, making a schedule, and setting work boundaries. These are cultivated by experience, reflection, and experimentation. But due to the strong emphasis on cognitive learning at university, these skills are insufficiently trained. Consequently, students struggle with this a lot.

By leaving the classroom and entering the field, these skills can be properly developed. Horse handling lends itself excellently to this. Horses are forgiving, honest, and sensitive to their environment, which causes them to instantly and intuitively react to body language or behaviour.

Desired solution

That is why Carolin Ossenkop's goal for this voucher project is setting up a learning environment in which professional and personal skills are be developed through activities with horses. There activities are shaped based on Kolb's learning cycle (2015), which consists of gaining concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experimentation.

A visual representation of Kolb's learning cycle
A simplified overview of Kolb's learning cycle

Action plan

Firstly, for setting up this learning environment, research will be conducted to find out which topics are suitable for horse handling and which materials are needed for this. This is being researched in consultation with several relevant parties, such as the Honours Academy, some PhD programmes, or other interested parties at Radboud University. Based on this, a pilot will be developed in which a small group of students in the Honours programme will participate. Afterwards, discussions will take place on how these sessions can be financed so that they can be offered in the regular curriculum, as well as how to make them attractive to participate in.


This project is funded by a TLC voucher from the Radboud Teaching and Learning Centre. This voucher programme aims to set up projects in the field of educational innovation, lecturer development and educational research.

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Contact information

Would you like to know more? Do not hesitate to contact the voucher stakeholder.