Are We Making Progress for the Future or Just Following the Footsteps of the Past?

For most horse owners, the approach of a new year encourages us to reflect back on how things were done in the past, by examining what worked and what didn’t, in order to make positive changes for the future.

This January, Equine Guelph will be providing students with the opportunity to re-examine their knowledge regarding equine welfare with its online course, The Equine Industry. Allowing those to learn from the comfort of their own home, this 12-week course, is designed to assist dedicated horse owners in furthering their knowledge about the horse industry as it relates to horse welfare and the future of this industry. This course provides students with the flexible learning opportunity no matter what their levels of involvement within the equine industry.

“By applying a science research-based approach to horse management, training and related performance, students will learn to eliminate practices that can cause an unfavorable effect relating to the health and welfare of the horse,” said course instructor Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph, at the University of Guelph. “Not only will students be encouraged to reflect back on their current practices, but they will look at the bigger picture, beyond the scope of their individual communities, to broader trends.”

Offered by Equine Guelph and Open Learning and Educational Support, course topics include exploring the evolution of the horse, examining the evolution of the hoof and the many facets affected by current management practices, first domestication of the horse, and its role in work, warfare, and sport as well as a companion animal.

Students will also have the opportunity to interact online with special guest speakers, including having questions answered by experts in their field. Guest speakers in this course include Dr. Sandra L. Olsen, Director of the Center for World Cultures at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA, who will enlighten students on the first evidence of domestication in horse; Dr. Jeff Thomason, a researcher at the University of Guelph, who will discuss the evolutionary changes to the horse’s hoof and its implications; and Derek Nelson, a Historical Military Strategist to discuss the role of the horse in the military.

“Throughout time, horses have been used in many different capacities,” said Ecker. “If we don’t learn to understand the problems affecting our horses now, we don’t have a hope to solve them in the future,” says Ecker.

The Equine Industry is part of the Equine Business Management Certificate, and an elective course in the Equine Welfare Certificate and the Diploma in Equine Studies, continuing education programs and will be included in Equine Guelph’s Winter 2014 online lineup. Other course offerings include Equine Functional Anatomy, Equine Behaviour, Management of the Equine Environment, Equine Health & Disease Prevention, Marketing and Communications in the Equine Industry, and Advanced Equine Health through Nutrition and Global Perspectives in Equine Welfare. The Winter semester runs from January 13, 2014 to April 5, 2014. Registration is now open, with early bird registration ending on December 13, 2013.

For more information, please contact Open Learning and Educational Support at, call 519-767-5000 or visit

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicenter for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit

About Open Learning and Education Support

Open Learning and Educational Support provides expertise and leadership to the University of Guelph community and our partners in the following: the scholarship and practice of teaching, technology-enhanced education, open learning and professional development. We provide support for teaching and learning that is evidence-based, responsive, developmental and based on best practices.






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