Published: 23 Jan 2018 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 11:03:40

The first US-based students on the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC’s) Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research (Grad Dip ELR) have enjoyed their first sessions with experts from the RVC.

The RVC Grad Dip ELR, which is already established in the UK, has been launched in the USA to offer US-based professional farriers the chance to gain the necessary skillset to produce original research, increase the evidence-base behind farriery, and enhance equine welfare.

Many within the US cohort had not been in education since high school and some had apprehensions about returning to study. However, all threw themselves into the course enthusiastically and enjoyed their contact with one another and the RVC team. 

The Grad Dip ELR can be taken over a minimum of two and a maximum of five years. The course is divided into two sections: Contemporary Study Skills and Applied Equine Locomotion. It is delivered using a variety of methods including webinars, podcasts and face-to-face learning sessions.

The US course is custom tailored to the US-based farrier, with the residential weekends held at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. 

The course is led by Professor in Comparative Imaging and Biomechanics Renate Weller and Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering Dr Thilo Pfau. They are supported by other members of the RVC’s Structure and Motion Lab, Equine Referral Hospital clinicians and the epidemiology team.

Professor Weller, Dr Davis, a Professional Development Coach, and RVC Educational Development Tutor Dr Veronica Brewster travelled to the US last week to deliver the first module ‘Study Skills for Online Learning’ and to outline the whole programme. 14 Farriers attended the weekend sessions. They came from a wide range of farriery backgrounds and travelled from numerous locations within the USA.

The module covered thinking and learning at university, literature searching and academic writing skills. The students also brainstormed their blue-skies research project ideas with Professor Weller.

Members of the course included Steve, a highly successful farrier who travels the breadth of America in his work, and Daisy, who set up a farriery business after helping a farrier treat her horse. Daisy now teaches others at her own farriery school and the RVC course will enable her to gain formal recognition for her skills and experience. Former serviceman Jim Laclaire was set to retire as a farrier before a colleague persuaded him to apply for the RVC course. 

Commenting on the weekend, Jim said: “This weekend for me was incredible! Once I overcame the fear of the unknown I realised we all had one common goal. That was a magnificent feeling.  The team from the UK was incredible.  I am still in awe of their commitment to the programme and to the students. It was the pleasure of my life to meet everyone.  What a fantastic group of professionals with one common goal. I think the industry will benefit greatly by allowing us to take this to the next level.”

Fellow student Tim Shannon said: “The instructors had such enthusiasm for teaching this course, I don’t want to let them down. I believe all the students want this course to be a success and see this as being a great benefit to the industry. I found that we all have diverse backgrounds and skillsets and we are all united by this passion about learning and making our industry better.

“I was expecting that there would be quality instructors, given what I know about Renate and RVC. What I did not expect was how they respected us for being there and how well they explained how the teaching would go and how they accepted us with all our flaws and our fears about the journey we were embarking on. The impression I got was that they would not teach at us but, teach with us.”

Notes to Editors

For more information please contact:

Uche Graves ( or Zoe Chadwick (

Press Line: 0800 368 9520

About the Royal Veterinary College

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London. The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences, being ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences degrees. It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC. • A research-led institution, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the RVC maintained its position as the top HEFCE funded veterinary focused research institution.

The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals; the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital, and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.

You may also be interested in:

Top of page