The sixth Alltech-Hartpury Equine Student Conference took place on the 4th May 2016 at Hartpury College, Gloucester. This annual conference is aimed at Higher Education students, providing an opportunity to experience writing and submitting an abstract, going through the review and revisions process, through to delivering a theatre presentation to a full conference audience or producing a scientific poster to present. This is often a daunting experience, however, the Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference allows students to present to students, without additional intimidation from experts and supervisors. Around 80 delegates attended representing more than eight colleges and universities from the UK, with 12 theatre presentations and over 15 poster presentations on offer covering a vast range of topics.
The morning session was chaired by Catherine Porter, Subject Manager of the HE Equine department at Hartpury College and was opened by an inspiring presentation by Professor Derek Knottenbelt from the University of Glasgow on Current welfare concerns in equine use and practice. The morning’s key note presentation was then followed by presentations from students from Hartpury College, Nottingham Trent University, Sparsholt College, Bishop Burton College and Hadlow College discussing topics including ‘the relationship between facial hair whorl topography and temperament of elite dressage horses in the auction ring’ and ‘the prevalence of diet related diseases and disorders within the UK donkey population’.
The afternoon session, chaired by Dr Georgina Crossman, was opened with an informative talk on predicting risk in racing and other equestrian sports. Students’ presentations filled the remainder of the afternoon session with students from Hartpury College, Hadlow College and Reaseheath College discussing topics including, a comparative case study on social media use within small and medium enterprises in the equine industry and whether the ridden heavy horse is a novelty or a modern miracle. The standard of presentations from the students was very high and they were rewarded with engaging discussion from both the student delegates and the keynote speakers with whom they were able to network over coffee breaks and poster sessions.
Posters on topics, such as equine physiological responses to rider ability, air quality testing in indoor arenas and stables with different surfaces and their possible effect on recurrent airway obstruction in horses and limb phasing characteristics and stride length of fully shod, partially shod and barefoot horses on a circle, were displayed throughout the day. Prizes for the best student theatre and poster presentations were awarded at the close of the conference by the conference organiser Kirsty Lensiak. Prize for the two best theatre presentations went to Angela Driver from Hadlow College, for her talk on ‘he effect of equine interaction on human blood pressure’ and Victoria Watt, also from Hadlow College for her presentation on ‘The Ridden Heavy Horse: A Novelty or Modern Miracle?’ Prizes for the top two posters went to two Hartpury College students; Kate Ebery for her study entitled ‘A Retrospective Study of the KBIS British Eventing Young Horse Championships to see if it provides and indicator for future top level event horses?’ and Vanessa Jones for her study entitled ‘How varied sizes in haynet holes effect forage consumption rates in stabled horses’.
Both Alltech and Hartpury College would like to offer their sincere thanks to all involved, especially the session chairs and the expert keynote speakers, for their efforts in making this, once again, a very successful event.