The more time you spend around horses, the more you realise that you never stop learning. We learn from coaches, vets, farriers, other horse people, and of course from horses themselves. We learn by reading, watching, listening and doing.
- inadequate or inappropriate feeding practices
- poorly fitting tack
- failure to recognise when a horse needs veterinary attention
- use of questionable training methods.
On this page we will be sharing links to horse education opportunities with a welfare focus, as well as some ideas for gaining knowledge and experience that don’t cost the Earth.
“Violence begins where knowledge ends” ~ Xenephon 400BC
Horse Care and Welfare Education:
Free online courses from Coursera ~ Free to take part. If you feel intimidated by the prospect of a university level course, please don’t be! You don’t have to submit the assessments if you don’t want to, you can simply watch the videos and read the learning material that interests you. Some courses are repeated from time to time, so join up and add them to your watchlist so you don’t miss out.
- Equine Nutrition course from the University of Edinburgh ~ Excellent course, highly recommended for horse people.
- Animal Behaviour and Welfare course from the University of Edinburgh ~ General course covering multiple animal species.
- Animal Behaviour course from the University of Melbourne ~ Not horse specific,”This course will help you understand the remarkable behaviors of wild animals from an evolutionary perspective.”
The RSPCA Knowledgebase website has free articles on a range of Horse Care topics.
How do I get experience with horses if I don’t own a horse?
Getting hands on experience with horses before giving a home to your first horse is absolutely essential. But how do you go about it? Here are some ideas that might be worth a try:
- Find out if your nearest horse rescue or equine welfare organisation has any volunteer opportunities. Take a look at the directory page for a state by state list of organisations, and keep an eye on the events page for volunteer days.
- Find your local pony club, adult riding club, equestrian group, or similar, and get in touch to see if they need volunteers at any of their events. Most clubs are crying out for help on their competition days, and while this may not immediately give you “hands on” experience with horses, you will learn a lot just by watching and being around horse people. Plus you will hopefully make some new horsey friends, who may love some help with their horses in return for teaching you some basics. This will also help you build up a network of nice horse people to ask for advice and help down the track.
- Riding for the Disabled/Riding Develops Abilities (RDA) centres all around Australia are another great place to volunteer. Hugely rewarding. Visit their website for more info. http://rda.org.au/
For riding coaches
Coaches can play a vital role in improving horse welfare in Australia. Not just in teaching riding skills and training techniques that ensure welfare is of utmost priority, but also in teaching things like health care, feeding, fit of tack, general handling, detecting pain, etc.
If welfare is important to you, as a student, please be sure to mention this to your coach, so they can teach your lessons with this in mind. There is so much to learn about caring for and interacting with horses in a humane and empathetic manner, that coaches with a horse welfare focus are able to have long and rewarding careers working with students who share their passion.