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The Open College of Equine Studies

New distance learning courses in Equine Behaviour and Welfare

The Open College of Equine Studies, an international leader in equine distance learning, has launched a Foundation Degree (FD) and a BSc in Equine Behaviour and Welfare. Both are available on a flexible basis and will be of great benefit to students with full-time jobs or other commitments.

The role of the horse in western societies has altered in recent times and issues associated with behaviour and welfare, together with the ethics of certain production systems and types of use have become the subject of discussion and new research initiatives. The subject of animal behaviour and welfare is attracting increasing interest worldwide, with a strong focus on meeting the needs and optimising the management systems of farm livestock, companion animals and other captive species.

The courses are being managed by the highly qualified Dr Amanda Badnell-Waters, the college’s newly appointed Head of Equine Higher Education. Both courses provide a firm foundation in equine science with the development of additional specialist knowledge in the field of behaviour and welfare of particular relevance to the equine sector, but also applicable to other areas of animal science.

The FD is a new, modern higher education qualification, forming part of the national strategy to increase the number of employees qualified at the higher levels. There are no nationally set entry requirements for FDs – they are open to anyone with the ability to learn at a higher level. Upon completion of the FD students can opt to top-up to a full Honours Degree.

The foundation modules cover the broader aspects of equine science, then focus upon the relationship between management, nutrition, health, training, reproduction, the physical and social environment, and behaviour and welfare. Legal and economic aspects of welfare provision are also considered.

Comparative studies across species form one of the areas of focus in the BSc, particularly relating to behavioural changes and the development of abnormalities. This is an important area of study as the understanding of the causes of behavioural problems in equids and other captive animal species is being increasingly considered an ethical necessity by scientists, vets and practical horsemen alike.

The programmes are delivered through distance learning, supported by Study Weeks, which include visits to The Animal Health Trust, Beaufort Cottage Equine Hospital, The National Stud, The British Racing School, Newmarket Gallops and a trainer’s yard.

Lectures from leading experts with international reputations in their fields of research, including vets from The Royal Veterinary College, Rossdale and Partners and The Cambridge University Veterinary School, supplement the distance learning material.

During Study Weeks students are accommodated locally at an historic private college and, as The Open College has recently moved, students will enjoy meals, lectures and practical sessions in the beautiful setting of a traditional stable yard situated in 250 acres of parkland in the grounds of a 14th century baronial hall.

Enrolments onto the programmes are being taken now. For further information on this and the wide range of TOCES courses available to suit all levels of knowledge contact TOCES, telephone: 01284 700703, email:


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