Week 1 – September 18: Welcome to the OEEEP program

Gayle Ecker, Director, Equine GuelphDear Students,

Welcome to your cohort of the Ontario Equine Education and Employment Program!

I am Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph and your instructor for the OEEEP program online portion.  I have been in the horse industry for pretty much all of my life. I rode my first horse, before I was even walking, thanks to my mother!  My family bought our first horse when I was 6 and I had my first pony when I was 7 years old – a cute little dapple-grey Shetland called Pogo!  Since then, I have been involved in both the racing and non-racing sectors, and also as a competitive rider in rodeo, managing a small boarding facility along with my own horses which included breeding, training young horses for others and training/showing our own horses at Arabian horse shows and a bit of competitive trail/endurance riding.  Wanting to learn more about horses, I gained far more experience as a researcher of equine exercise physiology for the sports of endurance, competitive trail riding, three-day eventing, and racehorses as I completed my M.Sc. (Heat stress, thermoregulation and electrolyte imbalances) in that area and conducted treadmill studies as a Research Associate.  I have been a groom, show groom, trainer, riding coach while in school, then worked in Marketing and Publicity at Woodbine Racetrack, then back to a researcher at the University of Guelph, and now an Equine Educator, Course Developer and Director of Equine Guelph.  I have been privileged to have had some wonderful mentors and have met wonderful people in the industry along the way.

And it all started when I learned how to be a good groom all those years ago!  The information and skills that I learned as a groom have provided me with a very important foundation for all the positions that I have had along the way.

So, introduce yourselves in the Discussion forum and tell us more about your background, your skills (in or out of the horse industry as it is great to combine them as you can how I have done that) and where you hope to be once you have completed this program along with your long-term career goals.  That helps us help you!

And please note, there is no “dumb question” in this course!  If you have it, you can bet many more have the same question, so please do not hesitate to ask your questions.  Become involved in the discussions as that is one of the most powerful ways you have to learn this important knowledge that forms a base for your career in the horse industry!