I just became aware of this free online course, taught by The University of Edinburgh. It is a five-week course that unfortunately began yesterday, but you can still sign up and there is lots to be covered in the weeks to come (see the syllabus below).
The course covers the anatomy and physiology of the equine alimentary canal, nutrient sources for horses, with emphasis placed on the health and welfare issues surrounding the inclusion of various types of feedstuffs in equine diets. Students will also discuss recommendations on rations for horses and ponies performing various activities and should feel equipped to make recommendations on rations for horses and ponies, in health and disease.
The course consists of 5 one-hour lectures (broken down into videos of between 10 and 15 minutes in length) with supporting notes and additional readings provided. There are quiz questions throughout the course along with optional assignments, and upon completion, you will receive a “Statement of Accomplishment” signed by the instructor.
About the Instructor
The course is taught by Dr Jo-Anne Murray, a senior lecturer in Animal Nutrition and Husbandry at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, which involves directing the Veterinary School’s on-line MSc/Dip/Cert program in Equine Science and managing the School’s e-learning activities. Dr Murray has a degree in equine science, a postgraduate diploma in animal nutrition and a PhD in equine nutrition. She is also a British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor, a registered nutritionist with the British Nutrition Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Dr Murray’s main research has been focused on improving the nutritive value of fibre-based feedstuffs for horses and investigating the effect of high-starch and high-fructan diets on the large intestinal environment of the horse. More recently, Dr Murray has investigated the use of supplements in horse diets and the effect of these on horse behavior.
Week 1: Anatomy and physiology of the equine gastrointestinal tract
The expectation is that the course participants will come from varied backgrounds in relation to their previous experience of gastrointestinal tract anatomy and physiology. Consequently, this course begins with consideration of digestive anatomy and physiology in equids. The learning materials provided are directed towards ensuring a good understanding of equine digestive anatomy and physiology.
Week 2: Nutrient digestion in the equine gastrointestinal tract
The learning materials during this period will focus on nutrient digestion in equids and will consider nutrient digestion in the various segments of the gastrointestinal tract. Discussion should focus on considering the limitations of the equid gastrointestinal tract in relation to nutrient digestion.
Week 3: Equine nutrient sources and feeding management
This part of the course will consider various nutrient sources for equids. Learning materials will be provided on various feedstuffs utilized in equine diets. These various nutrient sources for horses will be discussed, with emphasis placed on the health and welfare issues surrounding the inclusion of various types of feedstuffs in horse diets. Discussions should involve considering how nutrients are digested within the gastrointestinal tract and how knowledge of this can enhance the dietary management of equids to ensure good health, maximize performance and prevent nutrition-related diseases/disorders.
Week 4: Equine dietary management
This week of the course will explore the nutrient requirements of equids and the dietary management of these animals. Discussions should focus around considering how modern feeding practices do not always consider the anatomy and physiology of the equid digestive tract.
Week 5: Equine clinical nutrition
This part of the course will focus on evaluating feeding strategies for the management and prevention of several diseases/disorders in equids; for example, obesity, laminitis, older horses with dental issues etc. Discussions should focus on the dietary management of individuals affected with nutrition-related problems.
Sign up for this course here