Unit 17 – Level 5 Equine Reproductive Physiology and Technology

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Module / Unit Details

Horses are bred to compete in sporting disciplines ranging from showing to dressage, show jumping to National Hunt racing and the global Thoroughbred breeding industry is significant in terms of revenue and size.  As a result many people are involved in, or interested in working in the field of equine breeding and stud work.  Whilst studying this unit learners will gain an insight into the many facets of breeding horses.  The unit starts by discussing the qualities of suitable breeding stock, introducing genetics and their impact on inherited traits.

The practical aspects of natural covering are discussed.  Developments in reproductive technologies have transformed the non-Thoroughbred horse breeding industry; artificial insemination allows mares to be inseminated with fresh, chilled or frozen semen from stallions all over the world and the development of embryo transfer means that a successful mare’s genetic contribution can be maximised.

The learner will study the development of the foetal membranes and learn the principles of embryology.    The stages of pregnancy are discussed in terms of foetal development and preparation for parturition.

Unit 17 Equine Reproductive Physiology and Technology - Learning Outcomes

Investigate the mechanism of heredity at the organism, population and species level

Mechanism of heredity: genetic information, heritability, genotype, phenotype, qualitative inheritance, quantitative inheritance, monohybrid inheritance, dihybrid inheritance, gender determination and linkage, colour inheritance, breeding programmes, inbreeding, line breeding, outbreeding, crossbreeding, and the principles of inherited disorders.

Discuss the reproductive anatomy and physiology of the mare and stallion and its impact on selection for breeding

Reproductive anatomy and physiology: Reproductive anatomy of the mare and stallion.   Suitability of mare for breeding purposes, suitability of stallion for breeding purposes, reproductive anatomy and physiology,  gametogenesis, spermatogenesis, semen, oogenesis, oestrus cycle,  foal heat, oestrus, examination of the mare’s genital tract, manual examination, ultrasound examination.

Evaluate preparation for covering and covering procedures

Preparation for covering: Covering procedure, stud fees and associated terms, health checks, nutrition, swabbing, documentation, nomination agreement, passport, EVA certificate, clitoral swab, endometrial swab, Coggins test, mare certificate, stallion certificate, laboratory certificate

Covering procedures: teasing, covering procedure, pasture method, covering in-hand, preparation, methods of restraint, covering yard, artificial insemination.

 Give a comprehensive description of the stages of pregnancy

Pregnancy: pregnancy diagnosis, rectal palpation, ultrasound scanning, blood tests, urine analysis, twin pregnancies, stages of pregnancy, fertilisation, development of foetal membranes, stages of pregnancy, milk production, care of in-foal mare, nutrition, feeding, general care, problems in late pregnancy, ‘running milk’, placentitis, colic, prolonged pregnancy, pregnancy failure and disorders of the reproductive tract. 

Course Details

This Higher Education modules can be studied as a TOCES Short Course (SC).

TOCES Higher Education Short Course

Academic Level: Higher Education Level 5
Number of units/modules: 1
Study Hours per Unit: 150
Total Hours:  150
Course Duration:  Maximum of 12 months to complete course requirements
Study Week Requirements: Optional Higher Educational Study Week

This is a TOCES Certificate course. You will be awarded a graded TOCES certificate upon completion of the course. This will be of value to prospective employers as well as to you personally as it reflects your commitment to study. Please note that although TOCES Certificate courses do not result in a validated qualification, the course material is of the same high standard as our validated programmes through BTEC, the BHS and City and Guilds.

As with all TOCES programmes, you will receive detailed study material – each module comprises two work assignments which are completed at home and sent in for tutor assessment and feedback.

The first assignment in each module are formative work assignments designed to prepare you for the second assignment, a summative work assignment which contributes towards your overall grade. The overall grade of your qualification will reflect the grades achieved in your assignments. You will receive a TOCES certificate on successful completion of the course.

For all programmes you must be:

  • enthusiastic!
  • prepared to work hard
  • disciplined enough to set aside time to study
  • prepared to undertake independent study
  • at least 16 years old

While not compulsory, applicants under the age of 21 should hold one of the following:

  • BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Horse Management or a related area
  • AVCE/Advanced GNVQ in an appropriate vocational area
  • GCE Advanced level profile which demonstrates strong performance in a relevant subject or an adequate performance in more than one GCE subject. This profile is likely to be supported by GCSE grades at A* to C
  • Other related Level 3 qualifications
  • Access to Higher Education Certificate awarded by an approved further education institution


  • Non-UK qualifications of a comparable level to those listed above
  • Overseas students whose first language is not English must hold a minimum of level 7 International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Further information can be gained from www.ielts.org.

Mature learners (21 years and above)
Mature learners may present a more varied profile of achievement that is likely to include extensive work experience (paid and/or unpaid) and/or achievement of a range of professional qualifications in their work sector.

How much work is involved?
It is estimated that, including attendance at Study Weeks, each module involves an average of 150 hours study. To calculate how long a programme will take to complete multiply the number of modules by 150 and divide by the number of hours you feel you can spare each week. Although distance learning is a very flexible mode of study you must complete the course requirements before the course completion date. The more time you spend on additional research, the more likely you will be to attain high grades.

Modules generally consist of one Formative and one Summative Work Assignment. Project work and independent research are integral to most modules.  You will receive detailed tutor feedback for each Formative Assignment. Each Summative Assignment is graded and counts towards your overall qualification. Formative Assignments do not count towards the qualification grade and in some instances are optional.

You are also required to undertake independent research and read around the subject areas to increase your depth of knowledge and demonstrate the ability to analyse, disseminate and evaluate information.  We do not specify how many hours each assignment will take – this is included within the 150 hours and is individual to each student.

How long do the courses take?
We appreciate that our students have work, family and equine commitments so do not set rigid time limits. However a maximum completion date is calculated on enrolment.

Time taken depends on:

  • How much you know already – you will find some modules easier and more interesting than others
  • Work commitments
  • Family commitments
  • Equine commitments
  • Your dedication and motivation

To maintain a steady rate of work through an HE programme you should allocate at least ten hours per week to your studies. If you cannot find ten hours in a week you must appreciate that it will take longer to complete the Course and extra costs will be incurred after the maximum completion date if an extension is granted.

Can I work through the programmes in less time?
You can work through the programme at a faster rate than estimated here if you are able to devote more time to your studies. However, we do not encourage students to work through quickly at the expense of the quality of their work. You will also need to attend the correct number of study weeks and your payment status must reflect the rate at which you work through the programme.

Enrolment and Fees

Enrolments are accepted for all courses anytime throughout the year.  Following enrolment, you will receive access to online course information and course material.

TOCES Higher Education Short Course

Full Payment

  • Online access to all course materials
  • Tutor support
  • Printing and postage fees additional (optional)
Enrol now

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The Open College of Equine Studies
33 Pages Lane
Lower Green
Bury St Edmunds
IP28 6NJ

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The Open College of Equine Studies
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Bury St Edmunds
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