Breaking new ground as students present research at major student conference


Experts from the equestrian world joined students from the UK and beyond to share groundbreaking scientific research at the fourth Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference.

Students were invited to submit their own scientific papers that reviewed emerging research within the field of equestrian science. Some of them were then invited to speak at the conference alongside world-renowned scientists and researchers, while others were asked to present their research as a poster.

The conference provided a unique opportunity for students to share their research with an audience and gain experience in submitting and presenting at a Conference before potentially presenting to equine industry experts when they embark on their careers.

Hartpury students were among those speaking at the conference, alongside students from other colleges in the UK and abroad. Heather Stephenson, 21, Equine Science degree student at Hartpury, was asked to present her research on the measure of maternal stress when horses are separated from their foals.

She said: “It was my first time presenting at a conference and it was pretty scary but it helped getting practice alongside a group of my peers, especially before I presented the other half of my results in front of many more animal and veterinarary experts at the British Society of Animal Science Conference in Nottingham.”

There were prizes available for the best presentations within each category, provided by Alltech – sponsors of the World Equestrian Games – and for the first time this year, there were separate undergraduate and postgraduate sections.

This year’s theme was ‘From One Games to Another: Looking forward to 2014’ - focusing on the Olympic legacy from London 2012 and the forthcoming World Equestrian Games being held in Normandy, France in August 2014.

Lorna Cameron, 43, from Sparsholt College, who is currently undertaking a PhD in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Portsmouth and who did her MSc in Equine Science at Hartpury, presented her research on stress and coping in the dressage rider.

She said: “I’ve presented at a range of animal science conferences but it was great to share my research with students from different universities and I think they found it interesting. For me, it was good to get some initial feedback as I’m also hoping to present this research at an international conference (ISIS - International Species Information System) in Copenhagen later in the year.”

Scientific and equine consultant Dr David Marlin and leading researcher Dr Kathryn Nankervis, Principal Lecturer at Hartpury, also presented on the latest research at the conference.

Hartpury Equestrian Sports Science student, Lucy Woolstenhulme, 21, prepared a poster on her research, which looked at self-esteem and sensation-seeking and how that influences riders in different disciplines.

“This was the first conference most of us have experienced and certainly the first time I have had to put together a presentation with scientific content for an audience. It’s great experience and good preparation for when we start out on our careers in the industry.”

Amy Tibbetts, 25, third year Equine Science degree student at Hartpury, carried out research around the effect that specialist commercial sheath cleaning products have on bacteria in a lab setting.

She said: “Mine was the first study on this topic since the 1980s, at which time many of the products that are used now were not commercially available, so it was effectively new research and some of my recommendations went against current industry thinking.

“It was great to pose questions to the industry and to highlight an area where more research needs to be done. It was a bit nerve-wracking but I would quite like to lecture or teach one day, so getting the chance to do a professional presentation to a large mixed audience, rather than just a small group of fellow students, was invaluable.”

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