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A Look Back at 20 Years of Equine Education and Research

Posted in Equestrian News, Home Page articles, horse-health

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The first university-accredited online equine course, Management of the Equine Environment, launched in 2002.

For the past 20 years, equine education and research has been a prominent part of the University of Guelph’s (U of G) programming, providing quality education to thousands of students worldwide. At the forefront stands Equine Guelph, U of G’s hub for all equine-related education and research.
What began as a vision to elevate equine welfare and advance best practices has evolved into an institution that has left a significant impact on both equine enthusiasts and the broader industry.

“One of the biggest things we stress in our programs is evidence-based information,” says Equine Guelph director Gayle Ecker. “By combining the latest scientific research with practical application for horse owners, our students gain the knowledge and tools they need to make a real difference for the horses in their care.”

The first university-accredited online equine course, Management of the Equine Environment, launched in 2002 and was quickly followed by the Equine Exercise Physiology  course and the Equine Science Certificate. This pioneering initiative marked the beginning of a transformative journey in equine education at U of G, and Equine Guelph was officially established in 2003.

As a leader in the equine world, Equine Guelph has consistently pushed the boundaries of knowledge, offering a comprehensive range of courses, programs, and research initiatives that cater to the diverse needs of the equine community. One of the many ways Equine Guelph has proven their commitment to excellence in education is through their partnership with Open Learning and Educational Support (OpenEd) at U of G to develop the Equine Studies Online program.

“Offering industry-level courses online seemed like the way to go, and we draw on our partnership with OpenEd to ensure we uphold best practices in online education,” says Ecker. “We know it’s hard for horse owners to step away from their horses to learn, but with online courses, we’re able to reach students anywhere at any time.”

Education at Equine Guelph quickly built momentum, and by 2007 the Diploma in Equine Studies was established, including five new courses aimed at supporting equine business owners. Within a few years, the Equine Welfare Certificate was developed, bringing the total to three equine certificates and a diploma. Over the years, other notable milestones include reaching students from more than 40 countries, funding more than 100 research projects, and winning 10 prestigious equine awards.

“An exciting award that we were honoured to receive was the Equine Industry Vision Award from the American Horse Publications,” recalls Ecker. “This award is in recognition of leadership, creativity, and contribution toward positive changes in the equine industry, and we were the first Canadian organization to receive it.”

With two decades of dedication, innovation, and commitment under its belt, Equine Guelph has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

“There are continuing changes in the equine industry globally that are helping us move these programs into different environments,” notes Ecker. “We look forward to the opportunities and challenged that the future holds as we continue to inspire individuals to make a positive difference in the lives of horses.”
Interested in joining the thousands of students who have made a positive impact on their horses? Check out our upcoming courses and join the summer semester! Visit to learn more and register.

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