Story: Wendy Eagle, Graduate Student
I remember that first ride at 4. I also remember later getting kicked in the stomach by a pony, hitting the wall and sliding down to a sitting position. When Mom asked if I was okay, my response was – “I really shouldn’t have patted him on the bum when he didn’t know I was there.” That incident was the spearhead for lifelong learning.
Barn rat to begin; my first horse at 17; Living and working on the Harness Racecourse for a few years (and shadowing the vets whenever possible); Working in a show stable. Lessons, shows, hunters, games and trail riding. And now, rider, driver of miniatures, and teacher. When my horse retired in 1997, life forced me in different directions. When I met my husband, I jumped back in with both feet. He was a typical, “well we’ve always done it this way and we haven’t killed a horse yet”… horseman. Now he is my daily student.
In 2009 I had a strong sense that I’d like to do “something” with horses and helping people. As I had no idea exactly how that would look, I signed up for an online course through Equine Guelph; Health and Disease – thought I’d “try it out” and see where it led me. I was hooked after the first week! I went on to earn my Certificate in Equine Science with distinction in 2010 and my Diploma in Equine Studies with distinction in 2011. In January of 2012 I was asked to guest lecture for the Behaviour course – my absolute favorite and deeply rooted passion. This is an honor I continue and anticipate with delight!
In 2010 I opened Wellspring Equine Consulting. The underlying basis is to teach people horse behaviour, but also how they communicate, and how we can learn and understand their body language so we can interact appropriately.
Most of my clients are beginners or returning to horses. They are thirsty to learn in-depth aspects of behaviour and learning theory, basic care and nutrition, first aid, vitals, anatomy, environment, farm planning and more. Explaining the important “why’s” about our care, interaction and impact on the horse is a focus. After ground work comes driving lessons. Throughout all the knowledge transfer is learning relational parallels of horses in comparison to humans. Clients gain mentorship from the horses, but also from myself. I am also giving back to grass roots with youth day camps, workshops for Pony Clubs and OEF rider levels.
My credentials are slowly opening doors to new places that I can help our horses!
I enjoy periodically writing for magazines, assisting the Miniature Horse Club of Ontario with their website, and more recently started managing the Equine portion of the annual Central Ontario Agricultural Conference in Barrie Ontario. Recently, I have worked to spread awareness in my Town Council, encouraging creation of regulations/by-laws and fire and safety protocols. This year, free fire inspections of farms upon request by owners are available. It has been wonderful to put the knowledge gained from Equine Guelph’s courses to use; providing knowledge, meeting with the people putting such inspections in place while learning the hurdles they must jump.
Without Equine Guelph’s courses under my belt, my confidence in teaching would have been sorely deficient. As the courses began, I had a lot of moments that sounded like, “well I knew that!” more moments that were, “oh. I didn’t know THAT!” and what really made me laugh, “I always did THAT, but I didn’t know it had a name and I didn’t know why I did it!” Regardless of the years and diversity of my experiences I learned there was and still is, so much to continue discovering, as science uncovers new understandings and horses themselves add to my considerations. Equine Guelph courses have been a life changer for me, my clients and the horses we all affect.
Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole.
For further information, on Equine Guelph's Online Courses.