15 Horsepeople of the Year, as nominated by WesternHorse Review Readers
Gayle Ecker, Senior Manager Equine Guelph, Guelph, ON
In the world of academia, equine studies has not always been considered with the same seriousness as other avenues of study. Gayle Ecker changed all that when her vision of "a pathway of education all the way up to advanced studies" resulted in a first class program and ultimately, two presti gious awards. One, bestowed by the Ontario Partnerships for Advanced Skills recognized Equine Guelph’s Equine Science Certificate program, offered entirely online, for demonstrating effective instruction, for its innovative use of technology to enhance learning, and for addressing a real need in the equine industry for a current and accessible training program for professional development. This was followed up by a prestigious National Award of Excellence, presented to Equine Guelph for excellence in university continuing education programs. The award recognized the Certificate program’s strength of collaboration between equine researchers, horse owners and the equine industry. Through Gayle’s determination and vision, Equine Guelph’s multi-award winning Equine Science Certificate became a reality, and is now helping people from every province and two territories, over half of the states and from around the world. In five years, over 1,000 people have registered for the program. Nominations point to Gayle’s tireless work to ensure everyone regardless of age or location, who wants to learn about horses regardless of discipline or breed, has an opportunity to do so. Also attributed to Gayle is the wildly successful Equi-Mania, an online and "on the road" education program designed to help youngsters develop the skills to care for their horses properly and safely. Gayle has been working with the esteemed Equine Guelph, initially under the name of the Equine Research Center, since 1988. She lives just outside of the city on 36 acres and enjoys recreational riding with her Quarter Horses. She is familiar with the competitive world with a history of breeding and showing Arabs. Said Gayle of the nominations which led to her status as one of 15 special horse people of 2007, "I’m just thrilled that I was nominated, it makes me feel very humble, because I have a lot of people who work with me, it’s just not my own, we have an amazing team." Has it been worth it? You bet, she affirms, most particularly when she receives e-mails and notes from "former students telling me of the jobs and opportunities they found as a result of their education."
~ Ingrid Schulz
Reprinted with permission by WesternHorse Review