Dr Jane Williams – Associate Professor and Head of Research at Hartpury – has joined scientific and equine consultant Dr David Marlin and Louisa Taylor MRCVS, veterinary surgeon with equine nutrition specialists Science Supplements, in carrying out the new study.
They are inviting horse owners from across the UK, the United States and Australia to provide personal feedback via a short online survey to help assess the implications of the global pandemic on equine care and welfare.
The British Equestrian Federation (BEF), British Horse Society, British Grooms Association, Equestrian Employers Association, National Trainers Federation (NTF), and National Association of Stable Staff have all urged their members to follow government advice amid the current pandemic.
The BEF has said the maintaining the welfare of horses was still essential, making travel by owners to attend to them valid under the current government guidance, but it encouraged owners to keep visits to a minimum and to observe social distancing.
Dr Williams said: “The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact have developed rapidly.
“There is a lot of speculation and discussion ongoing and many horse owners and yard owners are concerned.”
Dr Marlin added: “We believe in order to try and understand the current influence of the present situation and to potentially help with the management of the impact on owners and horse welfare, it is important to understand what is actually happening right now.
“We are inviting horse owners to complete a short survey, which should take no more than five minutes with no personal data collected.
“The results will be made public as soon as possible and the survey will then be run again in one month’s time to help gauge the progression of the situation.
“With this information we will be able to develop a better understanding of the effects of the current situation, with the aim of being able to produce more targeted advice for horse owners, yard managers/owners and equestrian professionals.”
Louisa Taylor MRCVS said: “Our end goal is to support horse owners by offering guidance during this difficult time which will help them improve the health and welfare of their horses and ponies, while adhering to the constraints which have been put upon us.
“To do this effectively, we need to develop a better understanding of how the equine industry is dealing with the current situation.”
All research activity at Hartpury – one of the largest equine educational institutions in the world – either directly or indirectly informs not only current industry practice but also the curriculum.
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.
Equine research students at Hartpury University have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories to support their studies.
The facilities within the Equine Therapy Centre and the Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance enable biomechanical and physiological studies of both horse and rider.
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.