farriery research

A recently published editorial in the Equine Veterinary Journal, written by members of the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) Structure and Motion groups, in Hertfordshire, U.K., highlights the need for further farriery research.

The paper explores farriery research to date and discusses why there is a paucity of scientific publications compared to other fields of equine research, despite the huge importance farriery plays in addressing lameness problems. Research into this area is essential to guide vets and farriers in providing evidence-based care of horses’ feet in order to optimize their welfare and performance, the group says.

The article proposes that a lack of opportunities for farriers to gain research experience as the main factor limiting research in this area. In addition, research into farriery is a technically challenging process, which requires coordinated efforts between veterinary, farriery, and engineering experts, the group says, and it is also hard to secure funding for such research projects, despite their clinical significance.

The RVC has been seeking to address this challenge by establishing a new course, the Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research, launched in 2017. The program currently has more than 30 students enrolled from across Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.

“(I) and the rest of our team are really excited about this course,” said Renate Weller, DrMedVet, PhD, MRCVS, MScVetEd, FHEA, professor of comparative biomechanics and imaging at the RVC. “It provides us with the opportunity to work closely with farriers who have a background in advanced practical farriery.

“By adding research skills to their tool kit they will be ideally positioned to produce robust, practically applicable research,” she said. “I am positive that over time we will be able to produce an evidence base for how we deal with horses’ feet comparable to other clinical areas.”