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Equine Nutrition

Date(s) - January 14, 2019 - April 7, 2019
This is an online course


Equine NutritionYou know your horse needs a good solid nutritional program. His life and career depend on the building blocks that nutrition will provide as the solid foundation, but you don’t need a Ph.D. to make sure your horse has a good basic diet! This course leads you through the maze of equine nutrition and gives you the practical knowledge and skills you need to develop and maintain a healthy nutritional program for your horse. The course covers the basics of nutrition, balancing rations and special populations.

Learning ObjectivesEvaluationInstructorRegistration
The main objective of this course will be to learn to assess and balance a ration for a horse. At the end of the course, it is expected that you will demonstrate your ability to balance or assess a ration. You will learn how to do this by working through the objectives below.
Students will be able to:
1. Understand theory related to the study of nutrition of horses.

  • Know the characteristics of typical horse feeds
  • Identify and describe important anatomical structures and basic functions of the gastro-intestinal tract as well as how it functions to meet the nutritional needs of the horse
  • List horse management decisions and understand how they impose changes on the function of the gastro-intestinal tract and how these changes affect the health of the horse
  • Learn terminology and concepts that will assist in discussing nutrition with your veterinarian, nutrition specialist or feed store representative.
  • Understand theory as it relates to the feeding of horses, including the functions and required levels of the various nutrients in the diet and the role of NRC guidelines for horses in different categories
  • Identify the function of the major components of the equine diet and the role of forage, concentrates and supplements in the feeding of horses for good health

2. Apply nutritional theory to horses under your care by assessing and developing proper nutritional programs.

  • Identify the category of horse based on age, physiologic state, exercise level and other important factors when developing rations.
  • Read a feed tag and interpret the information that is presented, then apply that information to the formulation of a diet for an individual horse
  • Assessing forage visually and understand the value of the chemical analysis of forage
  • Learn to assess a diet or develop a new diet based on the forage the horse is receiving
  • Develop the skills and knowledge needed to formulate basic rations for various types of horses, using the NRC guidelines as a starting point
  • Identify the special needs of different classes of horses such as performance horses, broodmares and foals

Please note that you do not need access to a horse, or own your own horse to participate and be successful in this course.

The course evaluation will include:

  • Participation 15%: Your grade is based on your participation in class discussions in response to class learning questions and your reflections on the information provided by other student postings. Guest Speakers are invited into the course to interact with students on specific topics; your participation is also graded on your contribution to questions posted to the guest speakers.
  • Quizzes 10%: There will be five online quizzes. Each quiz consists of a number of true or false statements and multiple-choice questions which cover the weekly unit material.
  • Special Topics Assignment 40%: In the special topic assignment you will develop a deeper level of understanding in a specific area of nutrition that is of interest to you. Choose a specific condition that is known to have a nutritional cause (excluding poisonous plants) and research your topic. You will describe the condition, identify the causes and explain the dietary changes necessary to correct (if possible) the problem.
  • Final Quiz 35%: A final quiz will consist of a number of true or false statements and multiple-choice questions which cover the weekly unit material, and a case study.

Dr. Kathleen Cavanagh
Dr. Cavanagh has made horses a part of her life for over four decades. She is still active, showing and training horses, and is the owner of the private stable, Shorthill Pines Equestrian in Niagara.

She had her first horse for 31 years. Kathleen’s extensive background includes facility management (breeding, boarding), teaching therapeutic riding and giving riding lessons, training difficult horses, and showing hunter/jumper successfully as a junior for an Oakville client. She received the George Rankin Memorial Equine Scholarship in her 4th year of veterinary college. She saw practice at an equine orthopedic surgery facility and a standardbred racehorse practice. She is licensed in New York State and Ontario as a veterinarian.

In addition to practice, she is an active writer, editor, continuing education course designer/ website consultant.  She holds a Masters of Education Technology in the field of online (distance) education. Her special interest in equine nutrition is hormone-associated metabolism disturbances.


Registration is limited to 60 students. There are no international student fees and we welcome students from across the world.

You will find the registration page at our new OpenEd Student Portal – register for the Equine Nutrition course.

Ready to Register?

You will find the registration page at our new OpenEd Student Portal – register for the Equine Nutrition course.

Equine Nutrition can be taken as a single course or as a core or elective course in the Diploma in Equine Studies, Equine Science Certificate and Equine Welfare Certificate.

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