By Kathy Smith

The Equine Science Diploma program at Olds College, Alberta, has been suspended for the Fall of 2020 intake. A statement on the Olds College website confirms that current students will not be impacted by the change.

Despite the recent school budget cut of $663,000 by the Alberta government, CTV news reports that Blayne Meek, college spokesman, says the school is reevaluating the program, and that the suspension was not budget-driven. The program may not be gone forever, as Meek says programs are evaluated every three to five years based on criteria including student employment and industry demand.

The announcement was met with surprise by many in the Alberta horse community, including business owners who have hired graduates of the reputable program and say demand is strong and the program’s benefits to the industry are numerous. The Equine Science Diploma program has produced graduates whose careers have spanned decades and whose skills have benefitted the horse industries of Canada and other countries.

The last Canadian horse industry study, conducted in 2010, established that the industry at that time contributed more than $19 billion to the Canadian economy, and was larger than Canada’s dairy industry. Yet, despite the size and significance of the horse industry in Canada and the United States, the labour of caring for horses and performing stable work is often undervalued and carries the perception of unskilled labour. The opposite is true. The Equine Science Diploma program at Olds College prepares students for careers in the horse industry, meeting demands for knowledge, education, and professionalism. Through classroom theory and hands-on learning, the curriculum covers a range of subjects including horse care and husbandry, nutrition, breeding and genetics, riding skills, horsemanship, coaching, and business management.

Many in the industry believe that a more professional, academic profile is essential to a positive future, and that equestrian institutions must work with school boards and ministries of education, trade, and employment to provide opportunities for equine professionals and apprentices. Coaching skills in particular will be in high demand in coming years due to Equstrian Canada’s mandate that all equestrian coaches will have to be licensed and certified by 2025.

With files from ctcnews.ca, OldsCollege.ca 

Photo: Canstock/Veneratio

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