Diploma in Equine Science
This Diploma course is aimed at those with an interest in the management of equines with an emphasis on the scientific aspects. The Diploma in Equine Science will be awarded by Oxford College to those students who satisfactorily complete all 10 Units of this course.
1. General Principles in Science
2. Equine Anatomy and Physiology
5. Equine Nutrition
6. Equine Diseases
7. Veterinary Science
8. Equine Behavioural Science
9. Exercise Physiology
10. Science and the Equine Industry
Module 1 - General Principles in Science
This unit provides a foundation for the rest of the course. It introduces the branches of science and covers the following:
* What is Science?
* Taxonomy - how organisms are classified
* Cells and how they reproduce
* Biochemistry of cells
* The general biology of mammals
* The systems that all mammals have in common
* How organisms fit into their environment
* Chemistry of the equine environment
Module 2 - Equine Anatomy and Physiology
This unit follows on from the first one which looked at some of the physiological systems that are common to all mammals. This unit is equine specific and covers the anatomy of the horse, which is the structure of the body, and physiology, which is the study of how these structures function. It covers the points of the horse and the correct terminology for describing organs and regions of the body.
It covers the following systems:
* Skeletal system - the structure of the horse's skeleton and the composition of bone
* Muscular system - the composition of muscles, and how and why muscles contract
* The nervous system and the sensory organs - how the horse receives information from its environment and then acts on it
* The endocrine system - hormones and their function
* The circulatory system - the heart and blood
* The respiratory system
* The immune system - how the horse defends itself from invasion by pathogens
The digestive and reproductive systems are not covered in this module as they are covered in detail in later modules.
Module 3 - Genetics
An understanding of genetics is necessary for anyone thinking of breeding horses. This module covers genetics from a scientific viewpoint, and it looks at genetics from a species level and an individual level as well. It covers the following topics:
* The terminology used by geneticists
* Evolution of the horse - a history of how horses developed
* Early theories of inheritance
* Theories of evolution, such as natural selection and sexual selection
* Current knowledge of the basic principles of heredity - how inheritable traits are passed from parent to offspring
* The reproduction of genetic information - the replication of DNA
* Mutations that arise during replication, and how these alter the genetic instructions
* Genetic disorders in the horse, and how these can be predicted using knowledge of how genes are passed on
* How horses differ genetically from other equines such as zebras and donkeys, and why these species cannot interbreed or why their offspring are sterile
* The technology that can help identify carriers of genetic disorders, DNA testing
Module 4 - Reproduction
Module 3 covers some of the background knowledge that module 4 builds upon. In the previous unit we looked at the genetics of the horse and how this knowledge can be put to use when choosing suitable stallions and mares for breeding. This unit covers the physiology of reproduction and the care of the newborn foal. The following topics are covered:
* The reproductive anatomy of the mare
* The reproductive anatomy of the stallion
* The oestrus cycle of the mare
* Conception and early development of the pregnancy
* The different methods of insemination, including natural and artificial methods
* The procedure of embryo transfer and why this might be used
* The development of the unborn foal
* The process of foaling, the stages of birth and the neonatal period, including the importance of the colostrum the foal receives from its mother
* Problems that mare be associated with pregnancy
* Problems associated with delivery of the foal
* Problems associated with the development of the newborn foal
Module 5 - Equine Nutrition
Nutrition is more than simply consuming food, but is the science of food and of the nourishing the body. Equines have very particular nutritional requirements, and delicate digestive systems. In many cases horses are also used as performance animals, and so the science of correct nutrition is particularly important to maximise their performance. In order to remain healthy, horses must be fed correctly, and this unit covers the principles of good nutrition and its effect on maintaining physiological function.
This unit covers the following:
* The structure and function of the equine digestive system and how it differs from some other mammals.
* The particular nutritional requirements of the horse, and how the various nutrients affect the functioning of various physiological systems.
* Nutritional supplements and why they may be necessary in some circumstances
* How to calculate how much to feed a horse according to the type of work it is doing.
* The factors that can affect the type and amount of feed a horse requires such as breeding, lactation, age.
* Monitoring the effectiveness of a diet and understand what is meant by condition scoring
* The health problems associated with incorrect feeding, and disorders that are linked to nutritional deficiencies or excess intake of nutrients
Module 6 - Equine Diseases
This unit covers many of the common diseases associated with equines, together with reasons why they may occur. Every horse will experience illness at some point in its life, and it is necessary for anyone working with horses to have knowledge of the signs of health and the signs of a horse suffering from disease. Nutritional diseases were covered in module 5, and this module covers some of the other types of disease, including.
* The disease causing organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, and the differences between them.
* The main internal and external parasites that affect the horse and how they can cause disease
* The clinical signs and modes of transmission of the main infectious diseases affecting the equine, and how the risks can be reduced
* The signs of some degenerative diseases, such as chronic lameness conditions
* The signs associated with some diseases where the exact cause is yet unknown, and details of current research being carried out into their likely causes
Although the unit also covers some of the ways that disease may be prevented or treated, it is not the main focus, as more will be covered on this topic in module 7.
Module 7 - Veterinary Science
This unit follows on from module 6 on equine disease, and looks at the equine branch of veterinary science. It covers the following topics:
* The principles of veterinary medicine, and its aims, and a history of how veterinary medicine developed
* The preventive, diagnostic and curative veterinary medicine for various equine diseases
* Equine injuries and how these are treated
* Veterinary technology and how it is used in practice
Module 8 - Equine Behavioural Science
Why do horses behave the way they do? This unit provides a fascinating look at the reasons behind many of the behaviours expressed by the horse. It covers ethology, the study of horses in their natural environment, and examines the science behind behaviour. You will learn about the following:
* The main learning theories
* The areas of the brain associated with various aspects of behaviour
* The reasons why horses do what they do in the natural environment
* Stereotypical behaviour, including box-walking, weaving and crib biting and the science behind why the horse might develop these problems
Module 9 - Exercise Physiology
Horses that are used in the equestrian disciplines are athletes, and knowledge of the scientific aspects of exercise physiology is necessary if we are to understand how horses work and are to get the best performance from them. This unit covers the following:
* The main equestrian disciplines such as racing, endurance and eventing, and the effects on the horse's body
* The effects of exercise on the musculoskeletal system
* Thermoregulation - the way in which the horse keeps cool during exercise
* Biomechanics - how the horse moves during exercise
* The ways in which we can use knowledge of exercise physiology to improve performance
Module 10 - Science and the Equine Industry
This final unit of the course examines the various sectors of the equine industry, including the use of horses for leisure and the use of horses for competition. It pulls together much of the knowledge gained in previous units, as it looks at the ways science is entwined within the equine industry as a whole. You will look at how research into science and technology is having an effect on the way we manage horses in the present day, and the likely developments for the future. It examines the new products that may become available, for example nutritional products, new veterinary drugs that may be used in the future, and the development of tack or equipment to improve the life of the horse or its performance. It will also look at some of the products available for the rider, and show how science is implicated in the development of these products.
Basic English reading and writing skills, as full tutor support is given.
Diploma in Equine Science
Postage and packing, unlimited full tutor support.
Please note that this is an online course and your materials are delivered within the College web site in PDF format.
In the student 'Common Room' you are also able to receive the latest course updates, extra materials and information. You will also be able to take part in the student chat room and forums as part of our online student community.
After enrolling online you will receive your username and password to access your materials within 5 working days. You will also receive your personal Oxford student number via email.
Courses in paper/file format are still available at an additional fee of £45.00. This service is only available to those students studying within the United Kingdom. All students outside the United Kingdom will receive the online format.