The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is introducing a new graduate diploma in equine locomotor research (Grad Dip ELR) that offers farriers the opportunity to gain skills and experience in producing original research to increase the evidence base behind farriery and enhance equine welfare. 

The Grad Dip ELR is a United Kingdom (UK) Higher Education Level 6 course that can be taken over a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 years. The course is divided into two distinct sections, contemporary study skills and applied equine locomotion, and will be delivered using a variety of methods including face-to-face learning sessions on weekends, webinars and podcasts to facilitate participation of the busy practitioner. 

Admission will be open to all farriers who are eligible to be registered with the UK’s Farriers Registration Council and have a minimum of 2 years’ practical experience in advanced foot care. The RVC would consider applications from individuals who can demonstrate the necessary experience in advanced foot care and provide evidence of reflective practice in the form of an extensive portfolio.

The course will be led by Renate Weller, who is professor in comparative imaging and biomechanics and by Thilo Pfau, who is senior lecturer in bioengineering, and will be supported by other members of the Structure and Motion lab, the Equine Referral Hospital and the epidemiology group. 

They will be joined by Rachel Davis, who is Learning Development Manager, and her team, which has vast experiences, as well as vocational learners returning to education.

“I am super excited by this course,” says Weller, who was a speaker at the 2016 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. “As an equine clinician, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of farriery in the prevention and treatment of lameness in horses. As a researcher, I am excited to be able to work with people who have the practical experience and knowledge to generate scientific evidence for farriery strategies.

“It is a historic moment for the RVC — after 225 years we are welcoming back farriers and I am very honored to be leading this endeavor. The most common problem in equine practice is lameness and I am sure we will see great research coming out of this that will help us to work in a team to improve equine welfare.”

Major (Ret.) Richard Waygood, performance manager for Great Britain’s Dressage Team, lauds the creation of the equine locomotor research course.

“We are always trying to find a competitive advantage,” he says. “I believe this course will enable science and practical farriery to provide factual evidence that will help produce the X Factor that generates the marginal gains required in the competition field. The flip side of course is horse welfare — no foot, no horse! A great initiative that will provoke the brain cells and create some thinking outside of the box.”