April 16, 2008

The Michigan State University (MSU) online horse management program, My Horse University (MHU), was offered for college credit for the first time to Pennsylvania State University students during the fall 2007 semester.

Twenty equine science students at Penn State had the opportunity to take the MHU course on horse behavior and welfare last fall. Camie Heleski, MSU animal science department instructor and MHU contributor, was the lead instructor.

"The students kept me on my toes," Heleski said. "I really enjoyed watching the videos they sent me to document their application of learning theory for an assignment. It was an interesting blend of using technology to demonstrate hands-on efforts."

The behavior and welfare course uses online videos and interactive course components to help students learn to assess horse welfare and psychology. Participants learn how to interpret horse senses and body language, understand how a horse learns, including the key factors for the foundation of training, and how to recognize and manage stereotypic behaviors.

The course has been offered as part of a non-formal online educational series that also includes programs on horse breeding and selection and evaluation. A new offering in equine nutrition will be added this summer.

It was modified for use as a for-credit course with the addition of Dr. Heleskiís regular feedback and assignments of homework and graded tests. In the nonformal version, homework is not collected and tests are not graded.