Department: Clinical Science and Services

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Musculoskeletal Biology, CPCS (Research Programme)

Clinical Groups: Gait Analysis

Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory

Thilo is currently focusing on the use of inertial sensor based technology (as well as traditional kinetics and kinematics) to detect and quantify movement anomalies in animals. This covers a range of tasks and animals with the main emphasis on lameness in horses. He is supported in this undertaking by Fernanda Sepulveda, a postdoctoral researcher running the day to day logistics of a HBLB funded research project in collaboration with Singapore Turf Club and his PhD students (currently Line Greve and Amy Barstow). Thilo enjoys supervising undergraduate student research projects and has an excellent track record bringing these to publication level. He is collaborating with Veterinarians in the Equine and Small Animal Referral Hospital as well as internationally and is heading the Equine Gait Analysis Service providing advanced quantitative gait assessments for the Equine Referral Hospital and the Equine Practice.

Thilo graduated in Information Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He did a PhD in the field of pattern recognition at the Institute of Human-Machine Communication at Munich, followed by a two year postdoc at the International Institute of Computer Science, Berkeley, California. He then joined the Structure and Motion Lab at the RVC as a postdoctoral fellow and worked on BBSRC, HBLB and  DEFRA funded projects investigating locmotion on compliant limbs, horse-surface interaction and automated lameness detection in dairy cattle.

In 2008 he became a Lecturer in Bio-Engineering in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and was recently promoted to Senior Lecturer. He is now focusing on applied locomotor biomechanics with an emphasis on objective quantification of movement anomalies. Since being appointed Lecturer he has concentrated on pioneering a multi-sensor GPS-enhanced gait analysis system for field and clinical use. Use of this system has resulted in a number of peer-reviewed articles covering sensor validation (Pfau et al, 2005), lameness assessment (Pfau et al, 2007), back movement in horses (Warner et al, 2010) and horse-jockey interaction (Pfau et al, 2009) to name a few and a growing number of undergraduate student projects that are being brought to piublication level (e.g. Brocklehurst et al, 2013, Barstow et al, 2013, Brighton et al, 2013, Arndt et al, 2013, Robertes et al, 2013, Pfau et al, 2012). 

Thilo is interested in applied locomotor biomechanics, in particular the use of innovative assessment techniques for the assessment of over ground locomotion . He is currently -- together with two postdoctoral researchers (Fernanda Sepulveda and Anna Walker) and two PhD students (Line Greve and Amy Barstow) -- focusing on:

  • lameness detection and quantification in horses (PhD student: Sandra Starke) and dogs.
  • prediction of injury in Thoroughbred racehorses (Postdoctoral Researcher Fernanda Sepulveda at Singapore Turf Club)
  • quantification of jockey movement

Thilo's research is a true multidisciplinary mix of applied animal locomotor biomechanics combining his signal processing background (PhD in information technology in Munich Germany, PostDoc in Berkeley, US) with his extensive experience in non-invasive instrumentation of animals for the purpose of quantifying gait parameters. He is collaborating intensively with Uppsala University (Marie Rhodin, Agneta Egenvall, Lars Roepstorff) on all matters equine lameness as well as with Bern University (Corsin Heim, Stefan Witte, Vince Gerber) on clinical lameness in horses.


The Effect That Induced Rider Asymmetry Has on Equine Locomotion and the Range of Motion of the Thoracolumbar Spine When Ridden in Rising Trot. MacKechnie-Guire R, MacKechnie-Guire E, Fairfax V, Fisher M, Hargreaves S, Pfau T.J Equine Vet Sci. 2020 May;88:102946.

Ex vivo modeling of the airflow dynamics and two-and three-dimensional biomechanical effects of suture placements for prosthetic laryngoplasty in horses. Lynch NP, Jones SA, Bazley-White LG, Wilson ZF, Raffetto J, Pfau T, Cheetham J, Perkins JD.Am J Vet Res. 2020 Aug;81(8):665-672. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.81.8.665.

How low can we go? Influence of sample rate on equine pelvic displacement calculated from inertial sensor data. Pfau T, Reilly P.Equine Vet J. 2020 Oct 28. doi: 10.1111/evj.13371.

The Effect of Tungsten Road Nails on Upper Body Movement Asymmetry in Horses Trotting on Tarmac. Day P, Collins L, Horan K, Weller R, Pfau T.J Equine Vet Sci. 2020 Jul;90:103000.


Accelerometer activity tracking in horses and the effect of pasture management on time budget.  Maisonpierre IN, Sutton MA, Harris P, Menzies-Gow N, Weller R, Pfau T. Equine Vet J. 2019 Nov;51(6):840-845. doi: 10.1111/evj.13130.

The Effect of Tree Width on Thoracolumbar and Limb Kinematics, Saddle Pressure Distribution, and Thoracolumbar Dimensions in Sports Horses in Trot and Canter.
MacKechnie-Guire R, MacKechnie-Guire E, Fairfax V, Fisher D, Fisher M, Pfau T.
Animals (Basel). 2019 Oct 21;9(10). pii: E842. doi: 10.3390/ani9100842.

The Effect of Training on Stride Duration in a Cohort of Two-Year-Old and Three-Year-Old Thoroughbred Racehorses.
Parkes RSV, Weller R, Pfau T, Witte TH.
Animals (Basel). 2019 Jul 22;9(7). pii: E466. doi: 10.3390/ani9070466.

Effect of meloxicam treatment on movement asymmetry in riding horses in training.
Persson-Sjodin E, Hernlund E, Pfau T, Haubro Andersen P, Holm Forsström K, Rhodin M.
PLoS One. 2019 Aug 13;14(8):e0221117. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221117


Maisonpierre, I N; Sutton, M A; Harris, P; Menzies-Gow, N J; Weller, R; Pfau, T.
Accelerometer activity tracking in horses and the effect of pasture management on time budget.

Pfau, T.
Sensor-based equine gait analysis: more than meets the eye?.
UK-Vet Equine, 3;3: 2019


Rhodin, M; Persson-Sjodin, E; Egenvall, A; Serra Bragança, F; Pfau, T; Roepstorff, L; Weishaupt, M; Thomsen, M; Van Weeren, P; Hernlund, E.
Vertical movement symmetry of the withers in horses with induced forelimb and hindlimb lameness at trot.

Greve, L; Pfau, T; Dyson, S.
Alterations in body lean angle in lame horses before and after diagnostic analgesia in straight lines in hand and on the lunge.

Weller, R; Barstow, A; Price, H; Pfau, T.
Evidence-based farriery - does it exist?.
EQUINE VETERINARY JOURNAL, 50;5:552-553.  2018


Dunkel B, Pfau T, Fiske-Jackson A, Veres-Nyeki KO, Fairhurst H, Jackson K, Chang YM, Bolt DM.
A pilot study of the effects of acupuncture treatment on objective and subjective gait parameters in horses.
Vet Anaesth Analg. 2017 Jan;44(1):154-162.

Greve L, Dyson S, Pfau T.
Alterations in thoracolumbosacral movement when pain causing lameness has been improved by diagnostic analgesia.
Vet J. 2017 Jun;224:55-63.

Olsen E, Suiter EJ, Pfau T, McGonnell IM, Matiasek K, Giejda A, Volk HA. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with Chiari-like malformation and Syringomyelia have increased variability of spatio-temporal gait characteristics. BMC Vet Res. 2017 Jun 6;13(1):159


Pfau T, Daly K, Davison J, Bould A, Housby N, Weller R.
Changes in movement symmetry over the stages of the shoeing process in military working horses.
Vet Rec. 2016 Aug 20;179(8):195.



RHODIN, M., ROEPSTORFF, L., FRENCH, A., KEEGAN, K.G., PFAU, T. and EGENVALL, A. (2015) Head and pelvic movement asymmetry during lungeing in horses with symmetrical movement on the straight. Equine Vet. J.,

PFAU, T., WELLER, R. (2015) Comparison of a standalone consumer grade smartphone to a specialist inertial measurement unit for quantification of movement symmetry in the trotting horse. Equine Vet J, DOI: 10.1111/evj.12529

PFAU, T., PARKES, R.S., BURDEN, E.R., BELL, N., FAIRHURST, H., WITTE, T.H. (2015) Movement asymmetry in working polo horses, Equine Vet  J, DOI: 10.1111/12467

WILSON, A. M., AGASS, R. F., VAUX, S., SHERLOCK, E., PFAU, T. and WELLER, R. (2015) The Relationship Between Foot Conformation, Foot Placement and Motion Symmetry in the Equine Front Limb, Equine Vet J, DOI: 10.1111/12378

PFAU, T., JENNINGS, C., MITCHELL, H., OLSEN, E., WALKER. A., EGENVALL, A., TROESTER, S., WELLER, R., RHODIN, M. (2015) Lungeing on hard and soft surfaces: movement symmetry of trotting horses considered sound by their owners. Equine Vet J. 2014 Oct 9. doi: 10.1111/evj.12374.

HAMMARBERG, M., EGENVALL, A., PFAU, T., RHODIN, M. (2015) Rater agreement of visual lameness assessment in horses during lungeing, Equine Vet J,

HEIM, C., PFAU, T., GERBER, V., SCHWEIZER, C., DOHERR, M., SCHUEPBACH-REGULA, G., WITTE, S. (2015) Determination of vertebral range of motion using inertial measurement units in 27 Franches-Montagnes stallions and comparison between conditions and with a mixed population, Equine Veterinary Journal.

PFAU, T., BOULTBEE, H., DAVIS, H., WALKER, A., RHODIN, M. (2015) Agreement between two inertial sensor gait analysis systems for lameness exams in horses, Equine Veterinary Education.

PFAU, T., FISKE-JACKSON, A., RHODIN, M. (2015) Quantitative assessment of gait parameters in horses: Useful for aiding clinical decision making? invited review, Equine Veterinary Education

RHODIN, M., ROEPSTORFF, L., FRANCH, A., KEEGAN, K., PFAU, T., EGENVALL, A. (2015) Head and pelvic movement asymmetry during lungeing in horses with symmetrical movement on the straight, Equine veterinary journal, online prepublication


ROACH, J., PFAU, T., BRYARS, J, UNT, V., CHANNON, S.B., WELLER, R., (2014) Sagittal distal limb kinematics inside the hoof capsule captured using high-speed fluoroscopy in walking and trotting horses, The Veterinary Journal (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.06.014.

OLSEN, E., BOYE, J., THOMSEN, M.H., PFAU, T. (2014) Accuracy and precision of gait events derived from motion capture in horses during walk and trot, J. Biomech. 47(5):1220-1224

PFAU, T, SPICER-JENKINS, C, SMITH, R.K., BOLT, D.M., FISKE-JACKSON, A., WITTE, T.H., (2014), Identifying optimal parameters for quantification of changes in pelvic movement symmetry as a response to diagnostic analgesia in the hind limbs of horses, Equine Vet J.Article first published online: 23 JAN 2014, DOI: 10.1111/evj.12220

BROCKLEHURST, C., WELLER, R., PFAU, T. (2014) Effect of turn direction on body lean angle in the horse in trot and canter, Vet J., 199(2), 258-262. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.11.009.

BARSTOW, A., PFAU, T., BOLT, D. SMITH, R., WELLER, R. (2014) Design and Validation of a Computer Aided Learning Program to Enhance Students' Ability to Recognize Lameness in the Horse, J Vet Med Educ. 2014; 41(1):1-8. doi: 10.3138/jvme.0213-040R1


PFAU, T., STARKE, S., TROESTER, S., ROEPSTORFF, L. (2013) Estimation of vertical tuber coxae movement in the horse from a single inertial measurement unit, Vet J. ,198 (2), 498–503.

RHODIN, M, PFAU, T, ROEPSTORFF, L, EGENVALL, A (2013) Effect of lungeing on head and pelvic movement asymmetry and compensatory effects in horses with induced lameness, Vet J., 198 (Suppl 1), e39-45. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.09.031.

ROBARTES, H, FAIRHURST, H, PFAU, T (2013) Head and pelvic movement symmetry in horses during circular motion and in rising trot: towards establishing guidelines for lameness examinations. in Press: Vet J, 198 (Suppl 1), e52-58. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.09.033.

OLSEN, E., PFAU. T., RITZ, C. (2013) Functional limits of agreement applied as a novel method comparison tool for accuracy and precision of inertial measurement unit derived displacement of the distal limb in horses. Journal of biomechanics, DOI:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.06.004

PFAU, T., ROEPSTORFF, L. (2013) To limp, or not to limp, is that the question? The Veterinary Journal, DOI:10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.01.001

BRIGHTON, C, OLSEN, E., PFAU, T. (2013) Is a standalone inertial measurement unit accurate and precise enough for quantification of movement symmetry in the horse? Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, Epub, DOI:10.1080/10255842.2013.819857

ARNDT, J., PFAU, T., DAY, P., PARDOE, C., BOLT, D., WELLER, R. (2013) Forces applied with a hoof tester to cadaver feet vary widely between users. Veterinary Record, 172, 182

STARKE, S., RAISTRICK, K., MAY, S., PFAU, T. (2013) The effect of trotting speed on the evaluation of subtle lameness in horses. The Veterinary Journal, 197, 245-252.


PFAU, T, STUBBS, NC, KAISER, LJ, BROWN, LE, CLAYTON HM. (2012) Effect of trotting speed and circle radius on movement symmetry in horses during lunging on a soft surface. Am J Vet Res. 2012 Dec;73(12):1890-9. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.73.12.1890.

OLSEN, E, ANDERSEN, PH, PFAU, T (2012) Accuracy and precision of equine gait event detection during walking with limb and trunk mounted inertial sensors.
Sensors (Basel). 2012;12(6):8145-56. doi: 10.3390/s120608145. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

STARKE, SD, WITTE, TH, MAY, SA and PFAU, T (2012): Accuracy and precision of hind limb foot contact timings of horses determined using a pelvis-mounted inertial measurement unit. Journal of Biomechanics 45, 1522-1528.

STARKE, SD, WILLEMS, E, HEAD, M, MAY, SA and PFAU, T. (2012): Proximal hind limb flexion in the horse: effect on movement symmetry and implications for defining soundness. Equine Veterinary Journal, 44, 657–663.

STARKE, SD, WILLEMS, E, May, SA and PFAU, T (2012): Vertical head and trunk movement adaptations of sound horses trotting in a circle on a hard surface. The Veterinary Journal 193, 73-80.


PFAU, T, GARLAND de RIVAZ, A, BRIGHTON, S, WELLER, R. (2011). Kinetics of jump landing in agility dogs.The Veterinary Journal. 190, 278-283.


UNT, VE, EVANS J, REED, SR, PFAU, T, WELLER R. (2010) Variation in frontal plane joint angles in horses, Equine Vet J Suppl. (38):444-50.

WARNER, SM, KOCH, TO, PFAU, T. (2010) Inertial sensors for assessment of back movement in horses during locomotion over ground. Equine Vet J Suppl. (38):417-24.

PERKINS, JD, RAFFETTO, J, THOMPSON, C, WELLER, R, PIERCY, RJ, PFAU, T. (2010) Three-dimensional biomechanics of simulated laryngeal abduction in horses. Am J Vet Res. 2010 Sep;71(9):1003-10.

WALKER, AM, PFAU, T, CHANNON, A, WILSON, A. (2010) Assessment of dairy cow locomotion in a commercial farm setting: the effects of walking speed on ground reaction forces and temporal and linear stride characteristics. Res Vet Sci. 88, 179-187. PubMed ID 19527912


FERRARI, M, PFAU, T, WILSON, AM, WELLER, R.(2009) The effect of training on stride parameters in a cohort of National Hunt racing Thoroughbreds: a preliminary study. Equine Vet J. 41,493-497. PubMed ID 19642411

PFAU, T, SPENCE, A, STARKE, S, FERRARI, M, WILSON, A. (2009), Modern riding style improves horse racing times. Science. 17, 325, 289. PubMed ID 19608909

STARKE, SD, ROBILLIARD, JJ, WELLER, R, WILSON, AM, PFAU, T. (2009) Walk-run classification of symmetrical gaits in the horse: a multidimensional approach. J R Soc Interface. 6, 335-342. Epub 2008 Jul 29. PubMed ID 18664427

CHURCH, EE, WALKER, AM, WILSON, AM, PFAU, T. (2009) Evaluation of discriminant analysis based on dorsoventral symmetry indices to quantify hindlimb lameness during over ground locomotion in the horse. Equine Vet J. 41, 304-308. PubMed ID 19469241 

CHANNON, AJ, WALKER, AM, PFAU, T, SHELDON, IM, WILSON, AM (2009) Variability of Manson and Leaver locomotion scores assigned to dairy cows by different observers. Vet Rec. 2009 Mar 28;164(13):388-92. PubMed ID 19329807

PARKES, RS, WELLER, R, GROTH, AM, MAY, S, PFAU T. (2009) Evidence of the development of 'domain-restricted' expertise in the recognition of asymmetric motion characteristics of hindlimb lameness in the horse. Equine Vet J. 41,112-117. PubMed ID 19418737


HESSE, KL, HINTERHOFER, C, PFAU, T. (2008) Sixth International Conference on Equine Locomotion. Equine Vet J. 40, 606-610. PubMed ID 19031518

PFAU, T., FERRARI, M., PARSONS, K. & WILSON, A. (2008) A hidden Markov model-based stride segmentation technique applied to equine inertial sensor trunk movement data. J Biomech 41, 216-220. PubMed ID 17897652

PARSONS, K. J., PFAU, T. & WILSON, A. M. (2008) High-speed gallop locomotion in the thoroughbred racehorse. I. The effect of incline on stride parameters. J Exp Biol 211, 935-944. PubMed ID 18310119

PARSONS, K. J., PFAU, T., FERRARI, M. & WILSON, A. M. (2008) High-speed gallop locomotion in the Thoroughbred racehorse. II. The effect of incline on centre of mass movement and mechanical energy fluctuation. J Exp Biol 211, 945-956. PubMed ID 18310120


WELLER, R., PFAU, T., FERRARI, M., GRIFFITH, R., BRADFORD, T. & WILSON, A. (2007) The determination of muscle volume with a freehand 3D ultrasonography system. Ultrasound Med Biol 33, 402-407. PubMed ID 17208353

ROBILLIARD, J. J., PFAU, T. & WILSON, A. M. (2007) Gait characterisation and classification in horses. J Exp Biol 210, 187-197. PubMed ID 17210956

PFAU, T., ROBILLIARD, J. J., WELLER, R., JESPERS, K., ELIASHAR, E. & WILSON, A. M. (2007) Assessment of mild hindlimb lameness during over ground locomotion using linear discriminant analysis of inertial sensor data. Equine Vet J 39, 407-413. PubMed ID 17910264


WELLER, R., PFAU, T., VERHEYEN, K., MAY, S. A. & WILSON, A. M. (2006) The effect of conformation on orthopaedic health and performance in a cohort of National Hunt racehorses: preliminary results. Equine Vet J 38, 622-627. PubMed ID 17228576

WELLER, R., PFAU, T., MAY, S. A. & WILSON, A. M. (2006) Variation in conformation in a cohort of National Hunt racehorses. Equine Vet J 38, 616-621. PubMed ID 17228575

WELLER, R., PFAU, T., BABBAGE, D., BRITTIN, E., MAY, S. A. & WILSON, A. M. (2006) Reliability of conformational measurements in the horse using a three-dimensional motion analysis system. Equine Vet J 38, 610-615. PubMed ID 17228574

PFAU, T., WITTE, T. H. & WILSON, A. M. (2006) Centre of mass movement and mechanical energy fluctuation during gallop locomotion in the Thoroughbred racehorse. J Exp Biol 209, 3742-3757. PubMed ID 16985191

FERRARI, M., WELLER, R., PFAU, T., PAYNE, R. C. & WILSON, A. M. (2006) A comparison of three-dimensional ultrasound, two-dimensional ultrasound and dissections for determination of lesion volume in tendons. Ultrasound Med Biol 32, 797-804. PubMed ID 16785002


PFAU, T., WITTE, T. H. & WILSON, A. M. (2005) A method for deriving displacement data during cyclical movement using an inertial sensor. J Exp Biol 208, 2503-2514. PubMed ID 15961737

Thilo has been teaching on the MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy course (module leader biomechanics, course discontinued), on the BSc Bioveterinary Sciences 'Comparative Animal Locomotion' module and on the BVetMed course. He concentrates on teaching of applied locomotor biomechanics -- often making use of the exceptional experimental facilities of the Structure and Motion Lab -- in lectures, practicals and seminars. 
In addition, Thilo is passionate about the use of inertial sensor based gait analysis for clinical lameness workups where he is aiming at convincing the new generation of euqine Veterinarians of the benefits of an additional, objective, unbiased assessment technqiue for quantification of the subtle movement changes encountered in referral level lameness. 


Thilo is interested in the application of objective lameness quantification techniques in clinical lameness exams at the Equine Referral Hospital where he is providing a clinical gait analysis service. Here, he is making use of the multi-sensor system that he pioneered to provide objective evidence about improvements (or lack thereof) in gait asymmetry over the course of a clinical lameness workup. This service is provided in collaboration with the Veterinarians of the Equine Referral Hospital.   

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