Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Recently Equus Education received a new follower on Twitter – Forageplus. Curious, I had a look at their profile. Set in North Wales, it turns out that these guys focus on welsh horse supplements, forage and soil analysis as well as managing horse environments.
As it states on their website, the Forageplus team mission statement is:
“To promote whole horse health using the ideas of the leading horse educators around the world. To create value and make a difference to equines and their horse owners through good science and information that works.”
I love that we live in a time where science and education is being used to better horses lives as much as possible. Whether it’s to do with saddle fit and function as in equine ergonomics or better nutrition practices after studying the horse’s digestive system – it’s all good! We’re continuing to learn and better understand this great species. Consequently, we’re able to more effectively meet their needs and this will continue to improve.
If you explore the Forageplus website, you’ll see that they offer many services, including:
- Soil analysis – what’s in the soil on your property affects the types and quality of grasses. This in turn affects your horse’s digestive system.
- Knowing what’s in the soil and what’s missing means that property owners can make adjustments that are better for the land and their horses.
- Forage reports – this looks at the varying minerals in the forage you’re feeding your horse as well as the nutritional make up. It’s a great way to see what you’re really giving your beloved equine and what may be lacking.
- Everything needs to work in balance; too much of one thing can affect the right amounts of another.
It’s great to see another business that has a passion for horse nutrition and health. The website offers many products for horses as well as free articles relating to horse health and digestion. Why not check it out?
Perhaps like me you’re aware of people who work under the profession of saddle fitter. It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the phrase equine ergonomist. As it turns out, there are actually three professions relating to saddles and horses that I had thought were one.
With a bit of help from Saddlefit4Life, here are some definitions. This can be especially helpful to those considering a career relating to saddle fit and horse function.
The Equine Ergonomist is not trained to actually adjust a saddle at this stage. They however are acting as advocates of the horse with an unbiased analysis of the situation to supervise the proper adjustments made.
Saddle Fitters have traditionally been trained either through ‘ad hoc’ apprenticeships working with professional fitters. Or at various ‘schools’ in North America, certification through the Society of Master Saddlers in England or through the Qualified Saddle Fitter process in the US. For most saddle fitters, saddle fitting consists of reflocking. Or in cases where the flocking has been changed to air panels, they will be able to adjust the air levels to change the fit. There is usually no requirement for ongoing professional development and re-certification.
Saddle Ergonomists have been highly trained in all subjects in the philosophy of Saddlefit 4 Life ® global network of equine professionals working together. This is to protect horse and rider from long term back damage resulting from poor saddle fit. Certified Saddle Ergonomists have studied human and equine anatomy and biomechanics in depth. They are skilled in both static and dynamic fit for onsite adjustments. Also, they are able to measure both horse and rider and offer solutions in saddles that will work for both.They will be able to diagnose and evaluate fit issues and make suggestions for solutions.
Saddle ergonomists are unbiased, not working with any one company. They have the ability to make decisions to determine the best solution for horse and rider knowing what the market offers. Certified Saddle Ergonomists are to be considered the pinnacle of holistic saddle fit experts. Working with a Certified Saddle Ergonomist will ensure that you have a highly trained, well-connected individual. Their education is based on current scientific findings. They aim to care for you as well as your horse’s comfort and well-being.
Equine Ergonomsts, Saddle Fitters and Saddle Ergonomists
Feeling better informed? If you have an interest in saddle fit and horse performance now you know of three possibilities. This can help you to better decide on where you would like to focus your energy.
How much of your day/week is related to horses?
I am happy to be able to say that the vast majority of my week, both professional and personal, is related to horses. When I’m not traveling to barns for my job as a Regional Client Services Manager for Schleese Saddlery, I am working from home and spending most of my free time riding my own horse.
What is it exactly that you do?
I am a Regional Client Services Manager for Schleese Saddlery. I travel to different territories on regularly scheduled Saddle Fit Clinics. We provide saddle fitting services to new clients seeking an optimally fitting saddle for horse and rider and to our existing clients in need of routine saddle fitting adjustments.
My primary role is to create and maintain lasting relationships with our new and existing clients and with equine professionals to promote Schleese Saddlery and our saddle fit philosophy of pain free riding for horse and rider. I travel with a teammate who is a Certified Saddle Fit Technician, and together we provide thorough assessment, education, and offer solutions to saddle fit needs.
In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
Yes! We work hard and love what we do, and we are fortunate to be able to make a sustainable income doing something that is really a lot of fun.
What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
Saddlefit4Life is a non-profit organization that provides education and certification in the assessment of saddle fit for horse and rider. I encourage anyone interested in assessing and fitting saddles to research Saddlefit4Life, the fitting philosophy, and upcoming courses and events. Saddlefit4Life offers a range of educational opportunities from introductory seminars to intensive courses for those interested in learning more about pain free saddle fit.
Favourite horse memory?
It’s safe to say that most of my favorite memories are horse related! Personally, my favorite memory with my own horse was showing our fourth level freestyle test that we prepared. The whole process of choreographing the test and arranging the music with a wonderful clinician, to schooling the test and finally culminating the experience in showing the test was a wonderful goal that we achieved together.
I also have many wonderful work related horse memories. One that particularly sticks out in my mind is when we were consulted on a horse that refused to move forward in his current saddle. The saddle was restricting his shoulder movement and literally blocking him from moving forward. We identified the problems and provided him with a well-fitting saddle. The immediate, drastic difference in the horse under saddle was incredible. He became a completely different animal; moving forward freely, happily and relaxed. I am lucky to have many other memories just like this in my job.
My goals focus on continuing to promote pain free saddle fit for horse and rider. I look forward to continuing to provide educational opportunities to Equine Universities, groups and events to reach those in the equestrian community that are in search of safe and comfortable saddle fit.
Best thing about your sport/profession?
The best thing about my profession is that it allows me to spend every day in the barn with horses. I can’t imagine a better place to spend my time! We get to provide helpful, integral, important information and solutions to riders who want their horses to be happy, healthy and also comfortable in their saddles. We have the opportunity to watch our clients and their horses grow and progress in their training together and to be a witness to their journeys.
Recently I had the opportunity to send a variety of horse industry professionals’ questions to be profiled on Equus Education. One such person indicated they could provide answers for any of four professions. One of the professions listed was an equine ergonomist.
Perhaps you’re familiar with this term already! I wasn’t, so hopped onto trusty Google to do a search! As it turns out:
“Equine ergonomics is the applied science of equipment design, to maximise performance by reducing horse and rider fatigue and discomfort. It is the study of the relationship between horses and the environment in which they work, and the application of physiological, psychological and engineering knowledge to the problems involved. ” – From Ergon Equine
Saddle fit is important. Especially in a time when horses are ridden for recreational use, competition and even for work. It’s not just about how a saddle fits a horse. It’s also about how it functions and therefore affects the horse and rider. This is where the equine ergonomist comes in.
The Equine Ergonomist
Through considering the horse, the rider and the saddle, they are able to assess the whole picture. Utilising proper ergonomic design should help to prevent injuries that could develop over time. This in turn could result in an equine eventually becoming unusable as a riding horse. Have you dealt with a horse that has issues with being saddled? Or has been sore because of a poor saddle fit?
This is where the equine ergonomist should be utilised. A vet or an equine massage therapist may be able to indicate where a horse is sore. They can also determine that a poor fitting saddle is the culprit. An equine ergonomist however, can help to address this issue and find a solution.
It’s exciting to think that further studies are being done on varying equine fields. I love too that gaining a qualification to work with these incredible animals is becoming an increasing possibility. If your passion is saddle fitting and function, then why not a career as an equine ergonomist?
Well my favourites for providing free equine courses are at it once again! A recent tweet from one of the equine industry trainers alerted me to this fact. CAFRE have upcoming free courses in equine health, equine nutrition and also equine behaviour. Ready to sign up? 🙂
Perhaps you’d like further details:
- Clinical equine nutrition – running from April 12, enrol by April 5th!
- Introduction to Equine Health – May 24th, register by May 17th
- Managing Equine Health – July 5th, enrol by June 28th
- Equine Behaviour and Welfare – August 16th starting date, enrol by August 9th
Free Equine Courses at CAFRE
All of the free equine courses are run online over a four week period. I have undertaken many CAFRE courses online and the layout is generally the same.
You’re provided with some interesting and informative PowerPoints that often have a voiceover on them. Learning objectives are outlined, discussed and summarised. For each topic there is a test that you have three chances at completing. The idea is to gain the best score you possibly can.
For everyone who undertakes all of the tests successfully, you are issued an electronic certificate. This is to indicate that you undertook the course. Perhaps you’re looking to increase your knowledge and also gain some horse related certificates. Or maybe you want a refresher course. Perhaps, you’re looking to connect with other horse people who are also interested in these topics.
Whatever the reason, these courses are great to undertake! You have access to the materials and can do them in your own time, as long as you complete the tests by the specified date. For someone who is raising two young children, I have found I could dedicate enough time to complete the courses before the end date. And I’ve always learned something!
Recently Blair McKissock, the Director of Education for Strides to Success was profiled on Equus Education. I wanted to take a closer look at this horse educational organisation. Strides to Success have a simple motto:
“Learning. Leading. Living.”
A non-profit organisation, Strides to Success is a facility that is accredited through PATH. This facility works as a resource for many: families, individuals, organisations schools and mental health professionals.
It provides information for anyone who is seeking to utilise authentic learning experiences. There is a focus on character development and leadership qualities.
Strides to Success, Equine Assisted Learning
I love that horses can be used to help with this! Set in the United States, Strides creates custom programs for those in need. The sessions incorporate equine assisted learning. There is also the option for workshops to be held at their facilities and for online learning.
If you’re interested in the events they offer, then there is a page for this on their website. Perhaps you love this idea and want to help it move forward, then you can donate.
If you’re in the United States and interested in pursuing an equine assisted learning career, then it may be worth looking into Strides. Maybe you’re close enough to volunteer your time and also your enthusiasm. Or perhaps you can inquire of their skills and knowledge to gain ideas for your future horse career. There are often people who have gone before you in the horse industry that can make your career journey that little bit easier. Make the effort to reach out, connect and also learn all you can! It will only benefit you.
“For many young girls, having a horse of their own ranks high on the scale of importance, right up there with breathing.” ― Kim Meeder
Recently I was reading a novel by Alex Brown. It made reference to the NTRA or National Thoroughbred Regulatory Alliance. This is in action in the United States. The NTRA has a Safety and Integrity Alliance that focuses on six broad areas within the industry:
- injury reporting and prevention
- creating a safer racing and training environment
- uniform medication, testing and penalties
- safety and health of jockeys
- aftercare and transition of retired racehorses
- wagering security
As it says on their website:
“The health and safety of our human and equine athletes and the integrity of our sport are horseracing’s top priorities. The Safety & Integrity Alliance is horse racing’s key mechanisms for implementation of important safety and integrity initiatives on a uniform basis nationwide.”
The National Thoroughbred Regulatory Alliance
Racetracks can choose to be assessed by the NTRA and be accredited if they pass in the above six areas. This is a great way to ensure racing fans that the racetrack and those involved are working towards a healthy future for horse people and the horses themselves.
For someone who has a love of racing and equine welfare, perhaps a position with the NTRA may be worth looking into.
Likewise, if you’re involved in the racing industry in your country, perhaps you know there is no similar setup where you are. Well then, maybe you’re just the person to encourage such an initiative to take place!
There are many organisations that are put in place to keep people ethical and accountable. They are also there to make sure sports are safe. This is a great idea so that the sport in question isn’t brought under ridicule by the public. It also shows that people involved in the sport are dedicated to safe and legal practices. Setups like the NTRA can benefit many.
There are some things that are or have been discovered by others that fascinate me, especially when they relate to horses. Recently I read the Partnered Pony by Jenifer Morrissey. It contained a statement regarding researching equines. It left me thinking, ‘wow! How cool!’
It turns out that supporting the gut bacteria facilitates serotonin production which can lead to calmer equines.
What’s so interesting about this statement?
- There is a link to how horses can be made calmer. This can greatly affect their performance, health and ease of management.
- It is linked with the horse’s digestive system. This in turn is linked with what we feed the horse.
In short? Particular foods that keep a healthy environment for microbes can lead to calmer horses. Nutrition for horses can be designed that results in a horse that isn’t seen to be so ‘hot.’ Again: wow! How cool!
This information may have not first been discovered with regards to horses. However, there are funds out there for people wanting to undertake studies around the equine species. Many of the teachers of my Equine Science Degree were also researchers. They were able to continue their passion (research) by having a day job (teaching). This day job just so happened to link in with their passion – both were related to equine science!
For those who are interested in researching equines, consider the idea of teaching equine science, too. As you do your masters and maybe even go on to a PhD, teaching can be a great way to fund your desire to study and learn more about the equine species.
“From horses we may learn not only about the horse itself but also about animals in general, indeed about ourselves and about life as a whole.” ― George Gaylord Simpson
Boy have I not been aware of a niche area online! Although I too am offering horse related courses online (equine passive streams and breeding the mare), I wasn’t aware of how popular this was! Recently reading Alyssa Knee’s debut book, Spike, I was made aware of Monty Roberts Equus Online University.
It makes sense to me that trainers would have online courses. Especially those who have gained a following locally – and even worldwide. How wonderful to be able to pay a subscription fee and to then have access to many resources. These often include videos and articles by the trainer/s. In fact, there’s a deal going on their site currently:
Register now with the promotional code ‘DAYPASS’ and you’ll have access to over 350 Monty Roberts quick and easy training and instructional videos and lesson notes. Learn at your own pace with Monty Roberts. See for yourself why people say that Monty is the best, and the original ‘horse whisperer’, recognized by our international Equus community for his gentle and effective horse training.
Monty Roberts Equus Online University
Monty Roberts has his own website and products, which you can find here. To have his own domain and setup for an online university also, I think is awesome. Here you can access a lot of his resources and products. For those who are familiar with his join up work and the dually halter, you may be interested to purchase the head collar for your horse work.
Here is a trainer who provides some great examples of what you can turn into income through training and reaching other people:
- videos that people subscribe to (passive income!)
- live demonstrations that people pay to attend
- horse products for better handling or welfare
- qualifications to be able to teach others the same training method
Horse training will always be big, I believe. As long as we have domestic horses, we will need guidance. Having such a place as an online university for a particular method is great. It provides you with a local area to talk with others about their progress as well as learning.
Whilst reading Spike by Alyssa Knee, I saw a reference to online horse video subscriptions. The trainer referenced was Warwick Schiller. With trusty old Google, a search online quickly brought up some relevant results.
Warwick Schiller has a focus on performance horsemanship. Much can be learnt from horse trainers. With the ability to access videos online, we can specifically see an idea being acted out with a horse and the results. The trainer can also provide feedback as they carry out the task, or later as a voice over.
Warwick has on his website horse video subscriptions. There is the chance for anyone to subscribe to these on a monthly basis, or even annually. Now this can have appeal for many reasons:
- You can sign up for the monthly subscription. Then you can watch as much as you possibly can in that timeframe (there are over 400 videos)
- You can take your time over a yearly subscription From here, set yourself a goal of watching a certain number of videos a week/month to improve your horse knowledge
- You can try out concepts discussed in these videos with horses that you work with
- This is another great example of passive income. The videos are made once and paid for by subscribers so that they can be viewed over and again
Horse Video Subscriptions
For many well known trainers and horse people out there, video subscriptions have a great following. Videos can be created by horse people in the know on training, riding, presenting, feeding, trimming feet – the list goes on!
If you want to learn more about horses in a particular field, have a search online for videos that relate to this. If you want to share your wealth of knowledge and earn an income from it, consider videos that people subscribe to view. Horse video subscriptions work both ways.