horse racing

Gut Health & Colic Prevention: EXCLUSIVE TO RACING – Winter ’19

Mar 11 – Apr 22

3 wks (5-10 hrs/wk)

  • This course ends on March 29th, 2019; however, students will have access until midnight on April 21st, 2019.

Are gut issues affecting your stable’s performance on the track?

In the 2017 Ontario Horse Racing Industry Survey conducted by Equine Guelph, ‘gut issues’ was ranked the third health issue of concern after respiratory issues and injuries. Racehorses are elite athletes and best performance can only be achieved with optimal health.  Given the demanding life of the equine athlete, a high number of racehorses are at risk of digestive tract health concerns such as ulcers and colic due to:

  • The stress associated with being a high-level athlete, including race day, transport, and limited turn-out
  • High energy concentrates and the need for high energy diets to sustain performance and body condition
  • Intense exercise which can affect the digestive process

Digestive health is a high priority for the racehorse and a lack of optimal gut health can impact on the health, performance and welfare of the elite equine athlete, and add up to costly medical treatments. This online short course can be of benefit for all racehorse trainers and grooms in order to reduce the risk of ulcers, colic and digestive tract issues in your barn, and improve your horse’s performance on the track! Never taken an online course before? No worries! This course takes a common sense, practical and flexible approach to training – no prior online learning experience required. Equine Guelph thanks the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for providing education, training and awareness project funding in support of AGCO licensees.

Improve Performance – Reduce the Risk of Ulcers and Colic

This course was exclusively developed for the racing industry and has a specific focus on racehorses. Learn the risk factors and preventative management strategies from industry experts on how to break the cycle and promote digestive wellness. You can prevent gut issues such as ulcers and colic by:

  • Calculating your Risk
  • Assessing your Management Plan
  • Developing Preventative Strategies

This course may be of interest for trainers, assistant trainers, grooms, jockeys, drivers, owners and other current AGCO licence holders.

You will learn to:
  • Identify risks factors associated with ulcers and colic
  • Understand different types of ulcers and colic
  • Detect early signs and symptoms of ulcers and colic
  • Assess your management plan
  • Develop preventative strategies
  • Implement practical ways to reduce your horse’s risk of ulcers and colic

This course will first introduce you to the workings of the horse’s digestive tract.  It will show you how it all works together to provide the horse with the nutrition it needs for performance, growth and health support.  We will then look at why horses are susceptible to colic and ulcers by looking at modern management practices in the horse racing industry.  Learning to prevent gut issues such as colic and ulcers is our goal.  Step by step, we will work to identify the key risk factors and learn how to make important practical changes in how we manage and care for our horses – we can reduce the incidence of these painful and debilitating health conditions.

Did you know? Research on colic suggests that 80% of colic episodes are linked to our management practices.  In other words, 8 of the last 10 colic episodes may have been caused by their caretakers!  Can we learn to prevent colic by changing our management practices?
Course Topics 
  • Why are Racehorses susceptible to Colic and Ulcers?
    • Modern Horse vs. Natural Environment of the Wild Horse
    • Overview of the Anatomy of the Horse’s Digestive Tract
  • What is Colic?
  • What are Ulcers?
  • Major Risk Factors Associated with Colic & Ulcers
    • Housing/Turnout
    • Activity Level
    • Forage
    • Water
    • Concentrates
    • Dental Health
    • Parasite Control
    • Other Colic Risk Factors (horse-related and environmental)
    • Assessing and Managing Change
    • Why is Adaptation So Important?
  • Detecting Colic & Ulcers
    • Signs of Colic – REACT
    • What to do if your horse has colic
    • Sign of Ulcers
    • What to do if your horse has ulcers
  • What Next?
  • More Resources
  • Conclusion

Assignment (not graded, but recommended for personal achievement and required for certificate of completion)

Time Commitment:

  • Occurs over a 3-week period
  • 5-10 hour/week time commitment is required during this period
  • No set times to be online each week!  Log in at your own convenience and learn at your own pace.
  • Recommended you visit the course site at least 5 times a week, preferably once or more each day
  • Course is entirely online, so travel to the University of Guelph is NOT required


  • All materials are provided online within course site


  • 16 years of age or older

For more information, please email [email protected] Phone: 519 824-4120, ext. 54205

Nancy Tamblyn and Kevin Sampson“Thank you for providing this course! My husband is a 3rd generation full-time Standardbred trainer and was pretty much born and raised at the race track. We thought he knew everything there was to know based on the generations of knowledge he had in his head. By the end of the first day of the course, we were already discussing possible new strategies and techniques. By the end of the 3rd week, we realized how little we actually knew and are now implementing many new methods to lessen the chances of colic happening at the track and at the farm. All trainers should be asked to take this course before they can be certified.”

Nancy Tamblyn and Kevin Sampson – Standardbred Owners, Breeders and Grooms Sampson Standardbreds (Castor, AB) Students, Gut Health & Colic Prevention

One Moon - Krista Cole, Owner

One Moon – Krista Cole, Owner

“This course was very informative and truly interesting. There was a lot of information covered on the subject and it was broken down in sections each day. Was very enjoyable to take.”

Krista Cole, Thoroughbred Trainer (Krista Cole Racing Stables, Brampton, ON) Student – Gut Health & Colic Prevention

Palomino Horse“This course provides valuable insight for anyone that has an interest in improving the management of horse health. The take away is that good management saves horse lives and reduces expensive vet calls.”

Jackie (Calgary, AB), Student – Gut Health & Colic Prevention

Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the “Performance Electrolyte Research” team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on “Applied Nutrition” for the authoritative veterinary textbook: “Equine Internal Medicine”, 2nd edition.

Dr Melissa McKee is a founding partner of McKee-Pownall Equine services. Before attending the Ontario Veterinary college she was an international level three-day event rider, worked in a saddlery, and apprenticed with a farrier. She discovered a love of the Standardbred athlete while attending veterinary school. After working as a veterinarian in New Jersey and Alberta, Dr McKee returned to Ontario in 2002 and now focuses on helping race and performance horses reach their potential. Her interests include lameness, diagnostic imaging, MRI, spinal manipulation, and sports medicine.

    Kyle GoldieDr. Kyle Goldie practices in all areas of equine veterinary medicine, but mainly works with performance horses and has a keen interest in quarter horse racing.       Dr. Jessica Peatling – After graduating from the Science and Business program at the University of Waterloo, Dr. Peatling completed the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the Ontario Veterinary College in 2009. She then travelled to Lexington, Kentucky to pursue an internship at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Following her internship, she joined the Toronto Equine Hospital in 2010 where she worked with thoroughbred racehorses on the grounds of Woodbine Racetrack. Dr. Peatling has also completed her certification in equine chiropractic. Professionally, she is a member of the Disease Surveillance Team of the Ontario Animal Health Network (OAHN), and has served on the Executive Board of the Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners (OAEP) in the past. Dr. Peatling has mentored a number of students in the past, which is one of her most fulfilling accomplishments.      

Course Information

3 wks (5-10 hrs/wk)


Course Instructor

Gayle Ecker Gayle Ecker Course Facilitator

Gayle is the Director of Equine Guelph and played an instrumental role in its birth and ongoing development as a Centre for the horse owner at the University of Guelph. She has dedicated her energies to advancing the equine industry through education and communications on health, welfare and safety. Gayle continues working on a ‘pyramid of education’ model – an educational approach that provides learning pathways for career development at all levels (youth education > industry skills > Equine Science Certificate and Diploma >leading to higher education) in the equine industry. In collaboration with the Office of Open Learning, Gayle developed the Equine Studies program targeted to the equine industry to provide over 20 online courses that can be combined for Business, Science and Welfare Certificates or an Equine Studies Diploma. She also acts as an instructor in many of the courses, and also for several courses on The Horse Portal.

AGCO Licence Holders Only

access until April 22, 2019 12:00 am

$95 value – Free with coupon code!

Unit One (Day 1 – Monday)

Unit Two (Day 2 – Tuesday)

Unit Three (Day 3 – Wednesday)

Unit Four (Day 4 – Thursday)

Unit Five (Day 5 – Friday)

Unit Six (Day 6 – Monday)

Unit Seven (Day 7 – Tuesday)

Unit Eight (Day 8 – Wednesday)

Unit Nine (Day 9 – Thursday)

Unit Ten (Day 10 – Friday)

Unit Eleven (Day 11 – Monday)

Unit Twelve (Day 12 – Tuesday)

Unit Thirteen (Day 13 – Wednesday)

Unit Fourteen (Day 14 – Thursday)

Unit Fifteen (Day 15 – Friday)