Published: 29 May 2020 | Last Updated: 01 Jun 2020 08:37:37

The Royal Veterinary College launched the Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research (Grad Dip ELR) in 2017. It is the first course of its kind offering professional farriers in both the US and the UK the chance to gain the necessary skill-set to produce original research and increase the evidence base behind farriery.

The 2020 US graduates (pictured) completed the final course weekend at University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center in early March this year. Students presented the results of their thesis related work to the teaching staff as well as virtually to fellow Grad Dip ELR students past and present.

Grad Dip ELR graduating class
Grad Dip ELR graduates (from left to right) David Werkiser, David Gilliam, Veronica Brewster (RVC Lecturer), Timothy Shannon, Tracy Cooley, David Hallock, Jim Laclaire, Dr Thilo Pfau (RVC Course Director), Craig Bark, Darren Owen, Jude Florio, Pat Reilly and Doug Anderson

Course Director Dr Thilo Pfau, Associate Professor in Bio-Engineering, commented, "It was a true pleasure seeing the breadth and depth of the projects that the 2020 graduates of the RVC's graduate diploma in equine locomotor research have undertaken as part of their course work. The projects cover a variety of aspects from laboratory work with samples taken from hoof walls to assessments of different aspects of locomotor patterns in response to interventions to trimming. shoeing and on different surfaces.  The course team is looking forward to the publication of the results in the peer reviewed literature, which we are very keen to support." 

Student Pat Reilly, chief of farriery services at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, added: “ I am so proud of all of the farriers in the ELR-US course. We have all learned so much and I think we have produced some fantastic research projects. Thank you to everyone at the RVC for your individual and collective efforts in making this course available to farriers in the United States! ”

Darren Owen another student was equally appreciative “ Many thanks to the RVC team of professors for leading us on this journey. It was an incredible learning experience. Congratulations to all my fellow cohort and a special thank you and congratulations to Pat Reilly for making all of us feel so welcome and his academic achievement. Hope to see everyone again sometime soon.”

The Grad Dip ELR is a UK Higher Education Level 6 course, taken over a minimum of two and a maximum of five years. It is divided into two distinct sections, Contemporary Study Skills and Applied Equine Locomotion. It is being delivered using a variety of methods including face-to-face learning sessions on weekends, webinars and podcasts to facilitate participation of the busy practitioner.

Admission is open to all farriers who can demonstrate that they have farriery training, practical experience with advanced footcare and can provide evidence of reflective practice.

Dr Pfau continued “It is very exiciting to see our first US graduates and to know that the RVC is supporting the development of farriery expertise on both sides of the Atlantic and I am very honoured to be allowed to lead this endeavour. We are now seeing this course contribute to the scientific evidence base through farrier-led publications from our graduates in peer reviewed scientific Journals (Day, Collins et al, 2020). This is crucial for improving communications in veterinary-farrier teams aiming to improve the welfare of the horse.”

For more information about the Grad Dip ELR, please visit:

UK applications for the Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research (GradDip ELR) in the UK are now open for 2021  →

Notes to Editors

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London. It was the first in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • The RVC is the top veterinary school in the UK and Europe, and ranked as the world’s second highest veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2020.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

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