Equine Studies – Do equestrian online courses work?
Equine studies among other online courses are increasing in popularity as they are easier to work towards around other daily commitments. Here Chrissie Mayes from Learn2Horse.com looks at the advantages and disadvantages of learning online
So you want to learn more about horses? Perhaps you want to improve your riding skills, or you’d like to be quicker at all the practical tasks involved with horses, not to mention safer. Whatever your reason for improving your knowledge, horses are large and potentially dangerous creatures, so learning how to handle them correctly will never be a wasted skill.
On first sight, horse skills consist of mainly practical tasks, yet online theory based courses are becoming increasingly popular in other subjects – it is possible to replicate this with horses? Can you really learn practical skills with horses successfully online?
The short answer is yes, but of course there are pros and cons.
Advantages of Equine Studies online
- Theory based subjects, as well as the knowledge behind the practical skills, lend themselves well to online learning
- You can study in comfort of own home
- Study at your own pace, when and where it suits you
- Different learning styles are catered for as many online course provide a variety of learning material and exercises to complete
- The material is available at your fingertips, to review as and when you want
- Individual tutor support is usually available – depending on the programme – via email and Skype
- Paying for courses can be motivation to complete
- Some courses provide forums for students to get together and discuss the course
- You can carry on with your day job and study in the evenings
- All levels of courses are available – from basic short courses to in-depth higher education
- Accreditation with awarding bodies is available – depending on the programme
- Instant assessment and certificates available on some courses – depending on the programme.
Disadvantages of Equine Studies online
- As a learner, you need to be self-disciplined as there is nobody controlling your work time
- Practical skills are usually assessed via videos and photographs, and it is harder to have your mistakes corrected quickly
- No face-to-face access to your fellow students or assessors to discuss the course, or watch each other and learn from each other
- Generally no government funding available for the courses – as a rule they are self-funded. Loans may be available for distance learning courses at a higher level , so it is worth checking with the provider or your local education authority
- Some courses provide preparation towards certain exams – the learner still has to arrange to go elsewhere and sit those exams
- Some computer skills are required to get the most out of the courses.
How to online courses work?
With several well-known and reputable companies and colleges offering equine studies online learning, there are different approaches on offer.
- Completely online. After payment, all the material shows up on the student dashboard, and the learner can dip in and out at any time. Assignments and assessments are submitted online and automatically marked.
- Course material is available online, but assessments have to be manually submitted or posted, and are usually returned within 8 weeks with comments and marks.
- Course material is available online, but exams have to be sat or taken in a physical environment.
- Course material is mailed.
Combination of these permutations are also possible, and some providers offer the opportunity of practical study weeks. Trainers often offer their own certification, and others have partnered with awarding bodies to provide nationally recognised certification.
What courses are available?
Most aspects of horse care are available to study online, from short and specific topics, to longer in-depth courses covering many aspects. You can learn the very basics of horses handling, right up to an HND. There are also distance learning options for degrees and post-graduate courses at Universities. Specialist courses, such as coaching and horse psychology, are also on offer.
Why not just read a book?
Books hold the key to a lot of knowledge, but the difference between a book and an online course is that there is no support tutor hiding in the pages. When you enrol on an online course, the material you need for each unit is broken down into succinct chunks and delivered in a method to help you learn.
Not only that, but your online course usually comes with an assessment attached. The aim is to test how much information you have retained and can use to your advantage in the future. With some courses you can also earn a certificate if you pass, offering you a way to demonstrate your competence in that subject to others.
Books are a fantastic tool to impart information, and should be used as an extra resource in any study programme. An online course helps you retain and learn that knowledge, and move forward to the next level.
Is it for you?
There really is something for everyone when it comes to equestrian e-learning, and it is the perfect answer to gaining more knowledge without committing to a full-time course at a college. Whether you are looking to increase your knowledge just for your own benefit, or are seeking to climb the career ladder, equestrian online learning can help you get there.
For those looking for a more rounded education practical skills are key in the equine industry. Combining e-learning with practical experience at your local yard, or attending short study courses, ticks all the boxes for those looking for flexible learning solutions.
©Chrissie Mayes 2016
Chrissie is an equestrian writer, coach and educator, who is passionate about all things horses. Her aim is to help people understand the needs of horses more, and hence “be better for your horse.” Head over to http://www.learn2horse.com to find out more and sign up for her tips and tales!