The University of New England (UNE) has launched two industry-focused online short courses that will see improvements in the welfare of sport and recreation horses across Australia.
Created and backed by some of the country’s leading equine experts, the courses are a direct response to a major report released in 2021 by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group (TAWWG) outlining what needs to be done to improve equine welfare in Australia.
One of the courses specifically addresses the report’s recommendation to increase implementation of the Five Domains Model, which is a framework created by UNE alumnus Emeritus Professor David Mellor, ONZM that considers nutrition, physical environment, health, behaviour and mental state to assess animal welfare.
UNE Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Paul McGreevy, says this short course provides a comprehensive understanding of the Five Domains Model for everyone involved in the horse racing and breeding sectors.
“A sustainable industry begins with optimally managed horses, so it is critical that anyone involved with equine athletes has a basic understanding of how to assess welfare using the Five Domains Model,” he says.
“We envision this course will become a requirement for those involved in horse racing and breeding, as it covers key areas such as identifying welfare risks, recognising optimal conditions for horses, and applying a Five Domains-based welfare assessment using reliable indicators.
“This course has been created by Director of the One Welfare Academy, and Editor in Chief of Horses and People Magazine, Cristina Wilkins, who brings with her five decades of horse industry experience.”
The second course on offer is aimed at both seasoned equestrians and novice horse-owners, and is the first toolkit of its kind to be created that solves modern-day horse keeping problems using the concept that animal welfare, biodiversity and human well-being are connected, otherwise known as a One Welfare approach.
Key areas of the course include sustainable horse keeping, how to build enrichment into modern horse management systems, and how horses can be used to improve the land.
Deputy Chair of the Tamworth Equine Industry Reference Group and former Manager of the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC), Mike Rowland, says these two courses provide opportunities to the equine industry for progression in this space.
“For the past two years, our group has been consulting with UNE to develop equine education programs that are accessible and effective in improving outcomes within the broad range of equine industry activities.
“It is pleasing to see the launch of these two short courses and we are looking forward to seeing the industry benefit from increased education, on both a local and national level.”
The Equiculture Sustainable Horsekeeping course, and the Applying the Five Domains Model to the Welfare Assessment of Sport and Recreation Horses course are available 24/7 online through OpenLearning, and have no prerequisites.