Postgraduate students and senior lecturers presented ground-breaking research at a key equine science event at Hartpury University.
The Equine Research Seminar, introduced by Associate Professor Dr Kathryn Nankervis, Principal Lecturer in Equine Therapy, showcased a number of studies at Hartpury that are informing and enhancing practice in the UK and international equine industry.
PhD student Celeste Wilkins demonstrated her research into the comparison of static and dynamic rider postures, while postgraduate Alison Rood, who completed a Masters in Research in Anthrozoology, explained how equine-assisted activities can benefit people with dementia.
Other presentations included research by Zoe Nicol, who is studying a Masters in Sports Coaching, into the pain suffered by riders aged 35 and above, and a study by Dr Jenni Douglas, Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Science at Hartpury University, of the physiological and physical demands on horse riders.
After each presentation, members of the audience were invited to ask questions about the research and put forward suggestions for further study.
The event was co-ordinated by masters student Isabeau Deckers (MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy), a research assistant at Hartpury’s world-renowned Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance, who said: “What I love about the research projects happening within the equine department at Hartpury, is that it’s always practice related.
“Thereby, our equine research seminars are not only giving us an update on the ongoing research projects at Hartpury, but also giving us a huge amount of inspiration and engagement to upgrade our equine and equestrian practices that are evidence-based.”
Reflecting on her own presentation, Celeste Wilkins said: “My research looks at whether the rider’s dynamic pelvic posture can be predicted by their competition level or by static assessment.
“This is the first study from my PhD and it has some important implications.
“First, riders should be assessed in motion – static pelvic assessment does not predict what the rider will do dynamically.
“Second, competition level does not influence how the rider sits. Riders should be assessed on a case-by-case basis for best results.”
Hartpury – one of the largest equine education institutions in the world – will host the 2020 International Society for Equitation Science Conference, an event dedicated to improving the human-horse relationship through the application of objective research and advance science.
Equine research students at Hartpury University have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories to support their studies.
Recent equine graduates from Hartpury, which offers a range of equine-related diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and PhDs, have embarked on careers with a number of major employers, including Cheltenham Racecourse, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and The Horse Trust.
All research activity at Hartpury either directly or indirectly informs not only current industry practice but also the curriculum.
The expertise and experience of lecturers at Hartpury spans all areas of animal and agricultural sciences, and all staff are actively involved in research and knowledge exchange, either as researchers or practitioners.
Research is fully integrated within teaching, with staff research active in the areas in which they teach and many dissertations embedded in larger scale research projects.
Picture: Associate Professor Dr Kathryn Nankervis (far left) with speakers at the Equine Research Seminar at Hartpury