Breaking new ground as students present research at major student conference


Students from the UK and beyond shared their innovative scientific research at the fifth Alltech-Hartpury Student Conference.

Students were invited to submit their own scientific research that reviewed emerging issues 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 present their research to an audience of around 100 of their peers from more than eight colleges and universities. It enabled them to gain experience in submitting and presenting at a Conference before potentially presenting to equine industry experts when they embark on their careers.

The focus of the morning session was the incidence, prevalence and management of equestrian injuries, chaired by Dr Rachel Murray and opened by Dr Sue Dyson, who presented work on ligament injuries in dressage horses.

The afternoon session, chaired by Dr Sue Dyson, focused on strategies for prehabilitation and rehabilitation of the equestrian athlete and was led by a talk from Dr Rachel Murray from the Animal Health Trust on the prevention of injury in sports horses.

Students from a range of institutions, including Hartpury, presented in both sessions with topics as wide ranging as the influence of using joint supplements on stride parameters and the influence of increased workload on the hoof confirmation of shod compared to unshod horses.

Prizes, provided by Alltech, sponsors of the World Equestrian Games, were awarded for the best presentations within each category and presented by international rider and equestrian coach, Warren Lamperd.

The prize for the best theatre presentation went to Katie Grimwood from Oxford Brookes University for her research on ‘an investigation into the mineral intake of horses in the UK’.

She said: “I collected my data using an online questionnaire, which asked for information on factors such as the horse's diet, turnout, workload and bodyweight.

“From this I calculated an estimated daily intake of four minerals for each horse and compared this to recommended values. I identified some potentially inappropriate diets, which provides a baseline for future research and indicates a possible need for a greater awareness among owners of the nutritional requirements of their horses.

“The conference was a really good experience in presenting my own research for the first time in front of a panel, especially since I hope to go into research in the future.”

Hartpury students, Claire Harvey and Megan Long, said: “We delivered a joint presentation on conformational change of the horses’ hooves during increased workload. It was an amazing experience presenting our research in front of esteemed researchers and we hope that our work has highlighted a key area of research that could be taken further.”

Another Hartpury student, Charlotte Forkes, looked at the ability of riders to identify if horses were on the bit in her research. She said: “The conference gave a good platform for the discussion and dissemination of research conducted by my peers and those from other universities. It was a well organised event, and I feel that it gave me valuable experience in presenting to a large audience.”

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