Equine Guelph Leads Development Of Training Program For Workers In Horse Racing


March 31, 2022

A new training curriculum collaboratively developed by the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) and Equine Guelph aims to train more workers for rewarding careers in the horse industry. 

The Ontario Government recently announced an investment of $2.1 million into the horse industry to combat continued labour shortages. While contributing $2.3 billion annually to Ontario’s economy, the horse racing industry still saw over 1000 jobs unfilled in September 2021.  

This investment will help the OHHA, in close collaboration with Equine Guelph and local employers, to develop and deliver a training curriculum to participants.  

“There are many horse facilities that are in need of grooms and caretakers,” says Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph. “Horses need good care every day of the week, so there are many opportunities for people to get into the industry now.” 

Equine Guelph is a Centre at the University of Guelph that serves the horse and its industry through education, research, healthcare promotion and industry development. Equine Guelph is supported and overseen by industry groups and is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of horses. 

“This is an important opportunity for Equine Guelph to help our industry, in partnership with OHHA, to bring more people into the horse industry and show them that many careers and job pathways do exist. This is something that most people, even those currently in the industry, do not realize and are often surprised to see the many varied positions.” 

This training program will teach participants about horse behavior, handling and care, nutrition and safety in stables over eight weeks. Delivered through online academic instruction as well as paid work placements of six to 12 weeks with local employers, training will be provided free of charge to 250 participants, including $3000 to cover expenses and paid work placements. Employers will also receive up to $1000 per hire.  

Equine Guelph will provide online training to participants, and the OHHA will facilitate paid work placements with the help of Equine JobTrack, an online job search tool for positions in equine industries. VPI Working Solutions, a service provider for the Ministry of Labour, will also complete job readiness training for each participant. 

Ecker shares that "Equine Guelph was chosen for this initiative due to our pioneering work in online equine courses since 2002, as well as the reputation that this work has in helping the horse industry for research, health, welfare and safety.” 

“We are delighted to play an important role in this program, as it is connecting job seekers and employers during a time of a high need for staff,” Ecker says. “This also brings opportunities to people who may be looking for groom or caretaker training, or for employment - good horse care requires a lot of staff!” 

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