Finalists announced for Equine Thesis of the Year competition

With the preliminary judging now complete, the finalists of the prestigious British Equestrian Trade Association Equine Thesis of the Year award – an academic initiative designed to put undergraduate research back on the map – have now been announced.

Universities and colleges throughout the UK offering equine-related courses took up the challenge to submit one student thesis as part of this highly regarded competition and the following have made it through to the finals.

● Harper Adams University – Lucy Morgan. Thesis: Equitation Science in the Equine Industry: Horse riders' understanding of the learning theory in equine training.
● University of Limerick – Alison Brassil. Thesis: The Effect of Paternal Age of Progeny Performance in Thoroughbreds.
● Warwickshire College – Tegan Hemingway-Wood. Thesis: The Effect of Water Depth on Equine Limb Swing Phase Kinematics During Walk Exercise on the Aqualcelander Water Treadmill.
● Royal Agricultural University – Anna Williams. Thesis: The Effect of Soaking on the Population of Acid Bacteria Found on UK Meadow Hay: Possible implications for equine gastric ulceration.

All students will be called to present their work to the judges and take part in a Q&A session at Equestrian House, Abbey Park, Warwickshire, on 11 November. The winner and runner-up – who will each receive a cash prize – will then be announced.

While the judging panel retires to make its final decisions, the audience will hear a talk entitled “Behind the Scenes at Rio” by British Equestrian Federation World Class manager Sarah Armstrong.

“We would like to thank all the academic institutions that took part and congratulate them on the extremely high standard of undergraduate work,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams.

“Selecting the finalists was an incredibly difficult – although fascinating – task and our judging panel has done an excellent job of filtering this strong field down to the final four. We are all very excited about the award, which BETA relaunched after a three-year break, and really looking forward to hearing the student presentations. Securing a place in the final is a tremendous achievement and we wish each one of them the very best of luck.”

The Equine Thesis of the Year competition, developed by Graham Suggett and Pat Harris in the late 1990s, was last held in 2012. It was hosted and administered by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) as a means of recognising the good work done by equestrian undergraduates.

Preliminary judges of the 2016 competition were Dr Jane Nixon, Stewart Hastie, Dr Helen Warren, Claire Williams and Liz Benwell. Judges for the final are Dr Georgina Crossman, Dr Pat Harris, Ruth Bishop and Lucy Higginson.