Advanced Certificate in Equine Studies

An advanced equine study program. Gain knowledge, understanding and awareness of horse health and behaviour as well as the equine industry. A useful foundation for a professional career or business in the equine industry.

Course Code: VAG060
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Turn Your Love of Horses into a Career

Horses are wonderful animals to work with and to enjoy spending time with. There are many opportunities to work with horses whether in racing stables, horse riding business, on farms or workhorses in various settings.

This course of study provides a solid core of studies as well as the opportunity to select some modules to suit your specific goals and learning needs. 

Learn about horse health and welfare as well as all sorts of tips and tricks to help you get ahead in horse management.

Get the inside information on the horse business


  • Learn about horses, farming and business.

  • Learn event management principles and to develop skills to plan, initiate, host and evaluate a successful event in the equine industry .

  • Explore sustainability, diversification and Career Opportunities in the Equine Industry

Many equine businesses are run in conjunction with other farming or animal based enterprises. This comprehensive, quality learning program caters for this business diversity.

The learning program will teach you many of the different facets of running an equine facility, service, or farm. You will learn how to care for horses and other farm animals, manage events, develop essential office skills and marketing plans, and run a successful equine farm, combined farm, or event facility.

Particular emphasis is given to equine events including: horse shows, sales, clinics, trade shows, community events or any of the wide variety of equine events that are held each year in the equine industry.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Equine Studies.
 Horse Care I BAG102
 Equine Behaviour BAG216
 Horse Care II BAG204
Stream ModulesStudied after the core modules, stream modules cover more specific or niche subjects.
 Research Project I BGN102
 Event Management BRE209
 Horse Care III BAG302
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 14 modules.
 Animal Anatomy And Physiology (Animal Husbandry I) BAG101
 Farm Management BAG104
 Soil Management (Agriculture) BAG103
 Workshop I BGN103
 Animal Diseases BAG219
 Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202
 Animal Health (Animal Husbandry II) BAG201
 Irrigation -- Agricultural Irrigation BAG213
 Natural Health Care for Animals BAG218
 Pasture Management BAG212
 Sustainable Agriculture BAG215
 Agricultural Marketing BAG304
 Animal Breeding BAG301
 Horse Breeding BAG307

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Equine Studies is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


  • Explain different techniques and general measures which may be adopted to move a farm toward greater sustainability
  • Plan, create, manage, and evaluate a successful event (and adapt that to equine-centered event design and management)
  • Plan and conduct research into the current status of an aspect of equine management, and complete a descriptive report based on that research
  • Identify, select and apply knowledge and skills to appropriate perform workplace tasks in an industry, and adapt them to equine management
  • This course will also provide students with an understanding of the importance of properly managing the natural environment and built facilities to optimize the health of their horses
  • Manage the day-to-day requirements of a horse
  • Manage the condition of horses and to minimize risk in different situations such as events, travel, or inclement weather.
  • Identify different influences on equine behaviour, whether that behavior supports survival, is self-destructive, or out of boredom, and apply that knowledge to the welfare and training of horses.
  • Plan an animal breeding program using genetic theory, practical applications to daily husbandry practice, and management of animal breeding programs
  • Understand animal anatomy and physiology, as a basis for care and/or management of farm animals
  • Describe the composition of a range of feeds, including pasture, fodder crops, grasses, cereals, seed, and other edible plants, and the role of proteins, vitamins and minerals in animal diets, and select appropriate feeds for digestibility and nutritional content
  • Recognize and treat common diseases and wounds in animals
  • Evaluate, design and make decisions about the management of pasture for horses
  • Manage a farm or agricultural enterprise which services farms
  • Identify soil properties and requirements and adapt that knowledge to equine management

Tips for Grooming Horses


  1. To promote health.

  2. To maintain condition. Grooming tones up muscles, aids blood circulation, removes grease and dead cells, removes waste products, keeps pores clear to aid sweating and removal of waste.

  3. To prevent disease.

  4. To give the handler an opportunity to check the whole horse for lumps, cuts or other abnormalities

  5. To get a young horse used to being handled.

  6. To help form a bond between horse and handler. In the wild, horses are "groomed" by companions. The best way to make friends with a horse is to groom the horse!



This tool should be used from the heel to the toe of the hoof. It should be used as gently as possible to avoid bruising the sensitive sole of the hoof. When picking out horses' hooves in the stable, do so into a small container so that the horse does not pick up the dislodged material into his hooves again.


Keep two separate sponges ‑ one for the eyes and one for the dock region (under the tail). It helps to use two differently coloured sponges to avoid them being mixed up. If the horse is unwell and has a nasal discharge, use cotton wool instead of a sponge until the infection has cleared up. Sponges can breed germs so rinse them out thoroughly and, whenever possible, allow them to dry out in the sun. Throw away old sponges and replace with new ones regularly.


These are used to loosen the winter or summer coat when it is being shed.


Strapping is the thorough grooming of the stabled horse that is done once a day. It is best done after return from exercise when the horses pores are open and dirt and scurf has risen to the surface. It should not be done when the horse is eating or has just eaten a short feed (concentrates).

The horse may be given hay to pick at if he tends to be restless while being groomed. Below is a description of how a horse is strapped

Picking out the feet

Tie the horse up. Stand at his near (left) shoulder facing the tail. Run your left hand down the leg and grasp the front of the fetlock joint. Say "Up" and gently lean your weight into the horse. This will make him put his weight onto his off side (right) so that you can easily lift the foreleg.

Once the horse has let you lift his leg, support it with your left hand around the hoof. Do not bend the leg too forcefully. Discourage the horse from leaning all his weight on you!

Use the hoofpick to clean out the hoof remembering to always draw the tool downwards from the heel to the toe. Pick the hoof out into a container otherwise the horse will just restand on the material you have removed from the foot!

To pick out the hind feet: Approach the near shoulder, speaking to the horse to alert him of your presence. Run your left hand along the back to the point of the hip. Stand at the flank facing the tail. Run your right hand down over the hindquarter, the gaskin, the point of the hock, back of the canon bone and firmly grasp the back of the pastern. Push the point of the hip with the left hand to shift the weight of the horse to the off side. At the same time say "up" and lift the leg up, forward and outwards. Pivot on your right leg and take a long stride in under the hock so as to rest the cannon bone on your thigh.

Move to the offside of the horse and pick out the right fore and hind feet, this time using your left hand to lift the hoof.

A well mannered horse will be familiar and happy to co‑operate with the routine of picking out feet. It is done several times a day so use every opportunity you can to retrain a horse that is not as co‑operative as you would wish. Be firm but patient and reward the horse for good behaviour with a pat and kind words.

Sponging Eyes and Nose

Damp the sponge and gently wipe each eye from the inner corner outwards. Rinse the sponge out. Then gently wipe each nostril.

Sponging The Dock (Under the tail)

Speak to the horse and position yourself at his near hindquarter facing the tail. Run your left hand down the tail for about 10‑12cms. Grasp the tail firmly and slowly lift the tail. The horse has very strong muscles in this region and he is able to clamp the tail down forcefully! By moving slowly, the horse will relax the muscles, making it easier for you to lift the tail until it is level with the back.

Clean the dock area with the damp sponge. Put the tail down again and rinse out the sponge.

Never stand directly behind the horse to do this job. The horse lashes out most powerfully straight behind him and he can do this with lightning speed. The horse cannot kick quite so quickly to the side. By standing close to the hindquarters you will feel any movement of the hindlegs and be able to speak firmly to the horse. Should the horse kick, you will only feel a push as you will be close to the horse's body. You would need to be a few feet away to receive the full impact of a kick. A well mannered horse, of course would not dream of kicking out at his handler!

Brushing the head and forelock

Use the body brush and be extremely gentle in the head area. One knock with the brush could make an otherwise placid horse "head shy" or nervous whenever the head is approached with the hands. This can make bridling the horse difficult and time consuming.

Push the forelock back and brush down the front of the face. Do the ears gently and then the cheeks. Don't forget to brush under the jaw. (You may need a very small brush for ponies' heads). Then brush out the forelock a few strands at a time.

Brushing the Body

Stand on the near side of the horse with the body brush in the left hand and the metal curry comb in the right. It takes practice to brush a horse well using your weakest hand but to use the hand that is closest to the horse is the most efficient method. (See Figure 6.4)

Begin by throwing the mane onto the other side of the neck so it is out of the way. Start brushing at the top of the neck using small circular motions. This will lift the dirt and scurf from the skin and transfer it to the brush. Finish each small area by brushing with the lay of the hair. After four or five brushstrokes wipe the body brush across the teeth of the curry comb to clean the bristles. Occasionally knock out the curry comb, edge down, on the floor to clean it.

From the neck, progress to the shoulder. Be careful not to knock the bony point of the shoulder. Brush the chest and then down the near foreleg, again being very careful around the joints.

Now move to the withers and brush the back and the sides. Once this is done, stand at the girth area, lay your left arm across the horse's back to steady him and, with your right hand this time, gently brush the belly. You will need to lean forward so you can see what you are doing. Be very gentle and slow as this area is very ticklish for the horse. Feel through your left arm if the horse is becoming restless and use your voice for a calming effect.

Transfer the brush to your left hand again and resume brushing the loins, hindquarters and hindlegs. Brush very gently between the thighs as the skin is sensitive. A good trick to prevent a horse kicking at this stage is to grasp the tail about 10‑15 cm from the top and put your weight on it. This makes it more difficult for the horse to shift his weight and kick and gives you early warning if he intends to try to do so.

Having finished brushing the rear side, move around the front of the horse to the off (right) side of the neck. throw the mane back over to the near side and then brush the whole of the horse as described above, this time using your right hand. Remember to clean the body brush often on the metal curry comb.

Brushing the mane and tail

Still using the body brush, brush out the mane by dealing with a few strands at a time to remove any knots. Be careful not to break the strands as this will make the mane untidy and difficult to plait. Once this is complete, move to the near hindquarter and hold the tail out as though you are going to clean the dock. Now brush from the underside of the tail, again taking care not to break the hair.

Using the Stable Rubber

Once the mane and tail have been thoroughly brushed out, take a damp stable rubber and wipe it over the entire horse. This will pick up the last traces of dust and make the coat appear shiny.

This will complete the thorough grooming of the horse. There are several other techniques that are used when strapping horses and these are dealt with below.

Laying the mane and tail

A damp water brush is used to "lay" the mane and tail. Flick the excess water from the brush and then use it from the roots of the mane to about 5cm down the hair. The water will hold down short hairs that want to stand up in an untidy fashion and gives a sleek look to the neck. The forelock can also be laid in the same way. Damp the water brush again, and, standing at the rear side hindquarter, draw the brush down the roots of the tail for about 10cm. Repeat this process on either side of the top of the tail to create a neat, sleek form. Although this is a simple procedure, the results go a long way to making the horse look really well turned out.

Dealing with stable stains on grey horses

Stable stains can be very stubborn and will spoil the appearance of an otherwise well groomed horse. On darker coated animals, the water brush can be used. Make sure the brush is fairly wet so that the stain is washed out. With grey horses, stable stains live up to their name and discolour the coat. Use the wet water brush to wash out as much of the stain as possible. Then dissolve a cube of blue into a little water and rewash the stained area. This should reduce or remove the stain. A mild soap could also be used to wash the area but be sure it is rinsed out of the coat thoroughly.


Wisping is an excellent addition to a grooming routine and, in fact, strapping is not complete without it. It can be likened to a very vigorous massage. A leather pad can be bought and used for the purpose but it is more economical to make a hay wisp.

Making a hay wisp

From the middle of a hay bale, twist the stalks together until a two and a half meter rope is formed. You will find the hay easily forms into a rope if you dampen your hands and roll the hay between your wet palms. Keep the rope of even thickness as it forms (about 3cm is ideal). Once the rope is long enough, trim it along its length with scissors.

Make two equal loops of nearly equal size (See Figure 6.5). The loops should be about 15cm long. Wind the free end of the rope around the outside of first one loop and then the other. This forms a figure of eight around the two loops. Continue in this way until there is only a little free rope left. Twist the remaining rope into one of the loops securely.

The use and value of a wisp

Grasp the wisp with the whole hand and stand slightly back from the horse. "Bang" the wisp on one of the large muscle areas as shown in Figure 6.6. This will cause the horse to flinch the muscles against the bang. The muscles will be exercised this way.

When beginning to wisp a horse do not overdo it as it can make a horse stiff or nervous. Begin with three minutes on each side and gradually build up. Remember to wisp for an equal time on both sides of the body. You can wisp one area of muscles if they need building up, or all the major muscle seats. Alternatively, wisp all the major muscle seats, but give more time to areas that are weak or underdeveloped.

Wisping is valuable because

(a) it improves the circulation of the horse;

(b) it builds up hard muscle by massage;

(c) it makes the coat shine by squeezing oil from the sebaceous glands in the skin.

Oiling the Feet

The hooves of horses that are given a good diet should be healthy and shiny. However, to improve the appearance of a horse, hoof oil can be applied. A small stiff brush (like a paintbrush) is used to paint the oil around the front of the hoof, around the heels and on the soles, particularly into the clefts of the sole. This will make the hoof very dark and shiny. Try to stand the horse on bare concrete while the hoof is painted so that dust does not adhere to the wet surface of the foot. Some handlers use motor grease for a cheap source of hoof oil. This is not to be advised as, although it is cheap to obtain, it can dry out hooves.

Hoof oil. The oil will protect the hoof from loss of natural oils and may lead to less brittle feet eventually. It should be made of equal parts Stockholm tar and Neatsfoot oil.

So far we have discussed one type of grooming, strapping, that is done once a day after exercise for the stabled horse. We will now look at another type of grooming that is done.


Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
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Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
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ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation.
Gareth has a B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.

Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager.
Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Professional Education, Cert IV TESOL, Cert Food Hygiene.

Marius Erasmus

Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Yvonne Sharpe

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Gareth Pearce

Gareth has over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in a variety of colleges and universities in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. He qualified as a veterinary surgeon at the Universities of Melbourne and Bristol, having previously graduated in Agricultural Science and gained a PhD in Livestock Behaviour and Production. He also has post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation.

Graham Anderson

Graham Anderson B. Mech Eng (hons) Dip. Health

Graham has spent his life in the farming and agriculture industry, particularly carving a niche in the avocado sector with experience ranging from tissue culture, to nursery management to fruit marketing. He has an engineering qualification and an extensive range of mechanical skills which are now diversifying to an understanding of our internal mechanics in health and psychology with qualifications underway.

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