Online Horse Behavior and Safety Education: Is It Effective?

Online classes are now the norm in education, but can they assist in promoting safety to equine enthusiasts? One researcher says yes. Here’s why.
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Ecker said one of the catalysts for creating the short course was the revelation that some children were becoming injured while at the barn or on a horse but refrained from telling their parents about their injury. | Photo: iStock
Online education has become the norm in a plethora of settings, from high schools and colleges to professions requiring additional training and continuing educational opportunities. The option of online learning allows students access to teachers, role models, and mentors who might not be close in location; this interaction offers students the possibility of building a relationship with an industry professional.

Researchers at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada, sought to utilize this online-learning trend to see if offering a short course on equine behavior and safety to the equine industry might help reduce the risk of injuries and create positive change.

Gayle Ecker is the director of Equine Guelph, part of the University of Guelph that serves the horse and the equine industry through education, research, healthcare promotion, and industry development. Equine Guelph was founded in 2003 and is overseen by equine industry groups; the organization is dedicated to improving horse health and well-being.

During the inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit, held April 23 at University of Kentucky’s (UK) Spindletop Hall, in Lexington, Ecker said one of the catalysts for creating the short course was the revelation that some children were becoming injured while at the barn or on a horse but refrained from telling their parents about their injury. This silence had a multitude of reasons, including the child’s fear that he or she would be in trouble or not allowed to ride. Of the children who’d been injured that were surveyed, 85 percent of them said the injury could have been prevented but that they had not changed their behavior to prevent future injuries

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