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Following the Hoof Prints of Horse HistoryNovember 2012

By Barbara Sheridan

the Governor General's Horse GuardsGuelph, Ontario – November 12, 2012 – As long as humans and horses have worked together, people have realized the need to refine and adapt their animal husbandry techniques. But preparing for the future often means reviewing and appreciating the past. Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, encourages students to examine the evolutional history of horses, their domestication, and the impact on the human-horse relationship of today with its online course, The Equine Industry.

With a glance to the past, students will learn about various aspects of the horse industry - both racing and non-racing - and consider the type of industry we want to build for the future explains course instructor Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph.

“Students will gain an appreciation of the whole horse industry from ‘40,000 feet,’ along with its accomplishments and its challenges,” says Ecker. “Many of us in the horse industry stay in our discipline ‘silos’ and do not get the chance to understand the issues faced by other sectors of the industry, many of which are shared challenges. The way forward would benefit from us working together as a whole industry.”

Through this 12-week online course, The Equine Industry will also provide students with a look at the various roles played by the horse throughout history such as work and warfare, and allow students to seek out information about the different sectors of the industry today and the principle challenges that are currently facing the industry.

Students will also benefit from key guest speakers who will share their passion for equines of the past, including Dr. Jeff Thomason, a researcher at the University of Guelph, who will discuss the evolutionary changes to the horse’s hoof and its implications; Derek Nelson, a Historical Military Strategist to discuss the role of the horse in the military; and Dr. Sandra L. Olsen, Director of the Center for World Cultures at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, where students will learn of the first evidence of domestication in horses.

“Scientists and the public at large gain a more thorough understanding of the critical roles that horses have played in human culture through the discoveries made in recent years by various researchers in molecular biology, archaeology, anthropology, history and other related fields,” says Dr. Olsen, an archaeologist whose research has focused on the horse and human relationship through time. Olsen is currently investigating images of horses in rock art in Saudi Arabia, which is featured at

“Horses have made a tremendous impact on humanity, particularly in the areas of transportation, trade, work, the transmittal of language and technology, religion, accumulation of wealth, sports, and most notably, warfare and conquest,” she says.

The Equine Industry is just one of many courses offered online starting January 2013 through the continuing education program at the University of Guelph. Other courses offered in Equine Guelph’s Winter 2013 lineup include:

• Equine Functional Anatomy,
• Equine Behaviour,
• Management of the Equine Environment,
• Equine Nutrition, and
• Marketing and Communications in the Equine Industry.

Registration is now open, with early bird registration ending December 7, 2012. Courses run from January 7 to March 31, 2013.

For more information, please contact the:

Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support, 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 The Centre of Open Learning and Education Support

The Centre for 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.