Hartpury College


The over-arching theme of the equine research at Hartpury is ‘Performance in Equestrian Sport’ which embraces research questions relating to horse, rider and the interaction between the two. Hartpury’s strength in this area results from our involvement in international competition, our physical research resources, and our relationships with industry and other academic institutions. The aim of the Performance in Equestrian Sport group is to further our understanding of the elite horse and rider combination and to pursue research which is directly applicable to equestrian sport.



The physical resources within our Equine Therapy Centre including high speed treadmill and Rider Performance Clinic feature highly within our research activity. At Hartpury, we have access not only to excellent research tools, enabling electromyographic and 3-D motion capture studies but also access to suitable types and numbers of horses for our studies  (approximately 200 horses are resident at Hartpury during term time). Staff are fully committed to equine research and each and every member of the HE team is engaged in scholarly activity. Research and teaching are totally integrated, with staff research active in the areas in which they teach, and many final year dissertations embedded in larger staff research projects. All research equipment is utilised within teaching.

The PIES team:

Dr Kathryn Nankervis, Jane Williams, Lucy Dumbell, Hieke Brown, Emma Davies, Linda Greening, Kirsty Lesniak, Anke Twigg-Flesner, Victoria Lewis, Darcy Murphy Meet the team.

Current Research Activity:

What makes a rider ‘elite’?

Several staff are involved in work to identify the desirable morphological, psychosocial and physiological characteristics of riders at elite level dressage, show jumping and eventing and investigating factors influencing rider performance such as coaching techniques, saddle design and the application of novel cross training methods to improve rider fitness.  This work is supported by the development of the Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance, opened in September 2015.

How should treadmill exercise be used within rehabilitation and training?

This research helps us understand how best to use water treadmill, high speed and inclined, declined locomotion within the rehabilitation of horses with back problems and in the training of sport horses.  This work directly informs our clinical practice within the Equine Therapy Centre.


How does asymmetry in the horse influence soundness and performance?

Staff are engaged in projects investigating factors which influence posture in the horse, with consequences for soundness and performance; these include studies on hoof balance, limb asymmetry in populations of normal and elite horses, and the effects of manual therapy on posture and symmetry of spinal kinematics.