Online Education for Horse Owners - Opportunities Abound

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Source: Acera Insurance

Now is the perfect time to take online courses and webinars that are prevalent throughout the horse industry. Online courses allow students to learn without leaving home, at times that fit their schedule, and increase engagement when riding time is limited. Courses are offered via live-streamed interactive webinars or symposiums, pre-recorded videos, or a series of videos and readings. Topics include business management, equestrian science, equine anatomy, equine journalism, exercise physiology, first aid, horse camping, horse welfare, nutrition, stable management activities, and many more. Timeframes vary from an hour to multiple days or weeks and pricing differs, too, with some courses offered for free while others are fee-based. Courses may lead to certification or provide continuing education credits for coaching certifications and there are courses for almost every interest, learning style, budget, and schedule — beneficial for those wanting to advance their horse industry skills and knowledge — plus advantageous for the horse industry overall.

Mike King is a partner at Acera Insurance and as their National Manager of Equine Programs, he says, “I’m a firm believer in education and in elevating professionalism in the horse industry. We want the industry to be sound and healthy and growing. 

“Science and veterinary health are moving at warp speed,” he explains. “They’ve found so many different ways to adapt human science and health technologies to horses, it’s unbelievable.”

Because of these ongoing changes, King says it’s important for horse owners to get information from reliable sources, such as continuing education courses taught by professionals, rather than rely on suspect information from “Dr. Google” or social media platforms. He continues, “From a horse health standpoint, if someone has taken a first aid course to recognize the nuances of being around horses and their millions of little problems,” then, he says they’ll be prepared to deal with some of those problems, plus know when veterinary care is needed.

King believes that one of the best educational opportunities in Canada is Equine Guelph’s Horse Portal. In keeping with the insurance company’s belief in the importance of education, the company has been a long-term patron of Equine Guelph and King is excited about upcoming courses. He says, “They're developing a course with sport horse veterinarians… to help riders, trainers, and managers identify lameness issues before they become serious, and help them understand horse biomechanics and how we stress them.” King says this course has been offered to horseracing stakeholders for quite a while with great success and he’s hoping that after it’s been adapted to sport horses, it’ll be highly valuable to riders and owners of performance horses too.

But education isn’t just beneficial for riding and equine management. King says, “[Acera is] now rewarding or acknowledging continuing education as not only acceptance criteria [for insurance], but for a potential reduction in premiums. There’s no doubt that risk is reduced if [horse owners] have expertise or knowledge about what some of the risks are and how to mitigate them.”

Education is highly relevant to coaches as well, and King says that many coaches look to provincial and territorial sport organizations for education, as they also offer online courses and webinars and have partnerships with Equine Guelph. He continues, “From an insurance perspective there’s no question that a professional who has credentials… for example from Equine Canada/National Coaching Certification Program, Certified Horsemanship Association, British Horse Society, Canadian Pony Club, and licensed trainers on the Western side, all represent better risks (and hence may receive lower insurance rates) than those not credentialed.”

Plus, education is advantageous for equine-related businesses. King explains: “From a financial planning standpoint… it just makes sense that people structure their business so that they’re not undercapitalized. Their chances of success are exponentially better.” King adds, “From a legal perspective, incorporating versus having a sole proprietorship helps protect the individual.”

Ultimately, King says that learning about horse health and welfare, upgrading coaching credentials via education, ensuring business practices are sound, and reducing insurance premiums are all excellent reasons to take advantage of educational resources that are available.

If you’re interested in fuelling your horse passion this winter, check out courses with the University of Guelph (Equine Studies Online or The Horse Portal), private and non-profit organizations such as Equitation Science International, and Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada, and provincial and territorial sport organizations. There are online courses for almost every horse person. Here are some links to get started:

Mike King, Acera/Capri Insurance

Acera Insurance