Online horse uni marks 18 years of equine studies

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Canada’s Equine Guelph is celebrating 18 years of offering online studies to horse owners around the world.

Its very first course, Management of the Equine Environment, was offered in May 2002, and it remains the quintessential first choice for students embarking on their journey into the online learning community. Stewardship of the Equine Environment is another eye-opening course for those looking to operate an environmentally friendly facility.

Equine studies diploma graduate Jennifer Olley said she did not know many of the issues discussed during the Stewardship of the Equine Environment course even existed.

“It gives a great basis for all the other courses. Although the Equine Guelph Courses are complete in themselves, I have found that many of the courses dovetail into each other, one course may just touch on a subject introducing it, and then later in another course that same information (which has been already introduced) will lead to an in-depth discussion on it,” Olley said.

Another student, Laureen at Bar TT Cowhorse, said learning with Equine Guelph has been “a great journey, from a first horse to a commercial breeding operation”.

“And I learned what I needed through Guelph online, without leaving home or my horse. Everyone provided a piece that I needed along with many other details that have turned out to be quite useful. I’m sure we have saved money, time and injury through my online study.”

Gayle Ecker
Gayle Ecker

When Equine Guelph director Gayle Ecker first set out to combine evidence-based knowledge to support horse welfare there were nay-sayers proclaiming you could not learn anything about horses in an online format. But that did not deter Ecker from becoming a pathfinder and launching the first online equine education program from an accredited university in 2003.

It all began with six courses which comprised the Equine Science Certificate. After Management of the Equine Environment, followed Equine Exercise Physiology in September 2002, Health and Disease Prevention, Functional Anatomy, Equine Reproduction in 2003 and Equine Nutrition in January 2004.

There are now 21 courses, and Equine Guelph boasts more than 500 students from more than 40 countries, ranging from high-school graduates looking for horse training tips to veterinarians looking to round out their knowledge of equine behaviour.

The call for more courses to improve equine welfare was answered when Equine Guelph partnered with the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare in 2011 to develop the Equine Welfare Certificate. This certificate entails four core courses: Equine Welfare, Advanced Equine Behaviour, Global Perspectives in Equine Welfare and either Equine Nutrition or Advanced Equine Health through Nutrition.

In January 2017, Equine Guelph launched TheHorsePortal.ca to offer short courses delivering practical online training on hot topics of equine care. This initiative brought together partners from coast to coast across Canada with 10 provincial equestrian federations keen to make the learning opportunities available to their members. National organisations including Equestrian Canada, Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare and SaddleUp Safely also partnered from the start. It was not long before global success stories emerged for Horse Portal students and more partners joined in to offer targeted courses for their members including Ontario Racing.

Course lengths vary on TheHorsePortal.ca, with short courses of one to three weeks, and 12-week offerings which can be taken alone or combined to work towards three different certificates (Equine Science Certificate, Equine Business Certificate and Equine Welfare Certificate) and the Diploma in Equine Studies.

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