Hartpury equine graduate in the running for prestigious industry thesis award


A Hartpury graduate has been named as one of four finalists in the running for the British Equestrian Trade Association’s (BETA) Equine Thesis of the Year Award.

Lizzie Millington, who submitted her dissertation during the final stages of her BSc (Hons) Equine Science degree this year, will join her fellow finalists on Sunday 30 October in presenting her thesis to a panel of judges. Each finalist will present her work and while it is being considered by the judges, will take the opportunity to respond to questions from the audience. The judges will then return to announce the winner of the award.

The esteemed judging panel includes Dr Georgina Crossman - a research consultant who works with organisations including The Horse Trust and World Horse Welfare, Katie Williams – an equine nutritionist with over 25 years’ experience, Karen Coumbe – a vet and author with over 35 years’ experience including working as an official veterinarian for the FEI, and Liz Benwell – editor of leading title Equestrian Trade News and the first ever editor of Your Horse Magazine.

Lizzie’s thesis explored ‘the immediate effects of an equine physiotherapy intervention on spinal kinematics’. Hartpury has a strong presence in therapy and rehabilitation research, with world-leading studies on water treadmill exercise led by Dr Kathryn Nankervis and investigative outcome measurement in rehabilitation led by Dr Gillian Tabor, both of which contributed to Hartpury University’s Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) submission. Research previously submitted by Hartpury through the REF 2021 process was recognised as ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’.

The motivation to inform and refine industry practice is a key goal of the Equine Performance Research Centre.

Victoria Walker, HE Equine Lecturer at Hartpury University and Lizzie’s research supervisor, said: “I am so pleased that Lizzie has reached the final and it really is a testament to all her hard work! She was a highly motivated and engaged student throughout her time at Hartpury. Like our other equine graduates, Lizzie has developed strong employability skills throughout her degree. This is in keeping with the results from the Graduate Outcomes Survey 2022 that showed 97% of Hartpury graduates were in employment, further study or engaged in a purposeful activity.”

Claire Williams, Executive Director at BETA, said: “The Equine Thesis of the Year Award is a fantastic way for us to mark the extremely high standard of undergraduate study that is being produced at our universities and colleges. There is some incredibly impressive research taking place and some exciting and diverse ideas, which will certainly give our industry – and equestrians, plenty of food for thought.

“Taking a ringside seat makes sure we can hear about the work that is being done – straight from the horse’s mouth. And maintaining the event online makes it accessible to everyone. We are really looking forward to finding out more about the theses and discovering who is crowned winner. We wish the students and their universities the very best of luck and congratulate them on making it this far.”

Students are actively encouraged to get involved in research and knowledge exchange activities as part of their studies, ranging from working with industry partners to supporting PhD and staff research projects. This provides students with a chance to develop their employability skills and take advantage of exciting opportunities including having research published in research journals or presenting at national and international conferences.

The BETA Equine Thesis of the Year finals will start at 2pm and are open to both the public, trade and members of the academic community. Please register your interest to watch the event via Zoom.

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