Equestrian performance research centre

We have an incredible equestrian heritage - for over 25 years, we’ve been at the heart of UK equestrianism. We utilise the latest scientific expertise to keep practice moving forwards.

Our 360-hectare site is home to an unprecedented wealth of equine talent and expertise – our staff, students, industry partners and horses and riders that train here. We’ve built a wide network of industry professionals, nationally and internationally; like us, they’re dedicated to making a worthwhile contribution to horse welfare and sport.

Improving treatment for horses and owners

Our work on objective measures in veterinary physiotherapy and equine water treadmill exercise is directly informing practice globally. We develop evidence-based guidelines to ensure horses get the best treatment which improves outcomes for both horse and owner.

Providing the best tools for rider performance

We focus on what it takes to be an equestrian athlete; fitness, motor control and mental toughness. Our state-of-the-art simulators advance knowledge in rider biomechanics, and the best tools and techniques within sports performance are provided to our equestrian athletes.

Optimising performance, minimising injury

Our commitment to research ensures horse sport is a true partnership, with benefits for both human and equine athletes. We study risk factors for equine injury, look for management and training methods to optimise performance whilst minimising injury.

Recent research projects

Shaping equine rehabilitation

Research Centre Lead Dr Kathryn Nankervis is leading best practice across the world in the use of water treadmills for training and rehabilitation, contributing to new international guidelines Equine Water Treadmills: a guide for users, which integrates extensive research findings and over 20 years’ working with horses in rehabilitation and professional sports horses preparing for competition.

Project partners included the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), Petplan Charitable Trust and the Animal Health Trust, as well as leading academics, veterinary surgeons and therapy centre managers.

Supporting para-equestrian partnerships

We’re driving forward a new evidence-base for para-rider classification and learning more about the horse-rider partnership in performance. Utilising advanced riding simulators in our Margaret Giffen Rider Performance Centre, the research is the focus of a team of leading academics from the University of Central Lancashire, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), as well as biomechanists and physiotherapists, classifiers and athletes.

The study will provide exciting new information about the role of the rider in the human-horse athletic partnership.

Improving horseracing welfare

From assessing fitness and methods to reduce injury in racehorses, to the staffing crisis’ in the UK industry and the impact of CV19 on racing yards, we’re unveiling new evidence to improve the wellbeing of horses, riders and trainers in the competitive horse-racing world.

Staff profiles

Dr. Kathryn Nankervis, Research Centre Lead, Associate Professor

Dr. Kathryn Nankervis oversees all commercial and research activity within Hartpury’s Equine Therapy Centre and The Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance.

Co-author of Equine Exercise Physiology, Kathryn's research focuses on the most effective use of treadmill exercise within the training and rehabilitation of horses. A member of the ‘Equine Hydrotherapy Working Group’ Kathryn works internationally to shape best practice for equine hydrotherapy.

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Dr. Jane Williams, Associate Professor and Head of Research

Dr. Jane Williams' research focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of sports and racehorses. Co-author of Training for Equestrian Performance, Jane’s passionate about promoting the practical application of science for amateur and professional riders to inform their horses‘ performance and welfare.

Jane is shaping equine research on an international scale, as Junior Vice President of the International Society of Equitation Science.

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Gillian Tabor, Programme Manager and Senior Lecturer Veterinary Physiotherapy

Gillian is a Chartered Physiotherapist with 20 years' experience as an ACPAT Veterinary Physiotherapist in her own equine, canine and human patient practice.

Alongside training the next generation of veterinary physiotherapists, Gillian's committed to evidencing the beneficial effects of physiotherapy intervention on horses to enhance performance and to optimise welfare, designing and delivering related research.

Podcast: Gillian on Equine Veterinary Education

Equine facilities

Our specialist facilities provide an ideal base for real-world research, including equine therapy and rider performance centres, as well as international competition arenas and a livery yard of 230 horses and riders.

Research partnerships

Join our international network of academic and industry professionals; like us, they’re dedicated to making a worthwhile contribution to our disciplines.

Research degrees/PhD study

Choose a Hartpury research degree. Be supported by leading academic and industry experts to make a positive difference to the world.

Communities of practice

Our communities of practice connect academic and industry practice - like-minded individuals make great ideas happen, extending the value and impact of our work.