** Applications will open in May 2019 **

The Graduate Diploma in Applied Equine Locomotor Research from the RVC offers professional farriers the chance to develop the skill-set necessary to produce original research and increase the evidence base behind farriery.

Sign up for more information

We will be in touch with news about the course and more information on how to apply.

What's On Offer?

This course is delivered in a blended format combining online learning with residential weekends to ideally suit the busy schedule of the professional farrier. The next intake will be in January 2020 and will be based in the USA. The residential weekends will be held at the New Bolton Centre, University of Pennsylvania. Anyone interested in the 2020 course will need to meet the Visa requirements to entre the USA for study on six occasions over two years. Students are responsible for making their own visa arrangements.

Why choose this course?

Participants in the course will develop knowledge and skill in equine locomotor research directly related to the field of farriery. The course is specifically designed to enable participants to develop the necessary scientific and academic skills in order to produce their own research project to the highest professional standard.

Graduates will be awarded a Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research, which is a Level 6 (FHEQ) UK Higher Education qualification (equivalent to a bachelors degree). The programme has been carefully designed to help graduates meet the project and presentation requirements for the Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Farriers examination.

3d models of equine foot
Models of a shod foot with packer comparing hoof deformation in walk (white) and trot (yellow)

How is the course structured?

The course is divided into two distinct sections.

We are mindful of the fact that the farriery profession is made up of a cross-section of individuals with varying educational backgrounds. Section 1 acts as a springboard that enables participants who have not had any involvement in formal education in a number of years to familiarise themselves with current learning methods and thus “ease into” academic work.

Section 1: Contemporary Study Skills

This section of the course includes the following topics:

  • Introduction to online learning
  • Learning styles and self-regulation of learning
  • Searching for information
  • Communication skills 
  • Academic writing
  • Presentation skills

Section 2: Applied Equine Locomotion

The course comprises of five modules

  • Module 1: Equine locomotor biomechanics and orthopaedics
  • Module 2: Critical evaluation of scientific literature
  • Module 3: Study design and equine locomotor assessment methods
  • Module 4: Data processing, analysis and presentation
  • Module 5: Research project
two ct scans of euine foot
Computed tomography images showing hoof deformation with a packer in the unloaded (grey) and the foot simulating trot (orange) as seen from behind (left) and the side (right)

Timetable for the 2020 intake

The course will be offered as a combination of online learning and weekend seminars. For the 2018 intake, the 6 residential weekends were held at the University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Center.

As a guide the current USA cohort timetable is shown below.

Module Starting date Residential days Deadline course work End date
Section 1:
Contemporary Study Skills 08/01/2018 13+14/01/2018 09/04/2018 07/05/2018
Section 2:
Equine locomotor biomechanics and orthopaedics 10/09/2018 29+30/09/2018 29/10/2018 12/11/2018
Critical evaluation of scientific literature 26/11/2018 08+09/12/2018 02/01/2019 14/01/2019
Study design and equine locomotor assessment methods 28/01/2019 09+10/02/2019 25/02/2019 11/03/2019
Data processing, analysis and presentation 25/03/2019 06+07/04/2019 22/04/2019 06/05/2019
Research project 30/09/2019 30/11+01/12/2019 16/12/2019 06/01/2020

How much study time is involved?

The course will run over a minimum of 24 months, with self-study tasks (‘homework’) in between sessions.

Section 1: Participants are expected to spend five hours of study a week

Section 2: Participants are expected to spend ten hours of study a week

“Study” does not only include the time sitting at a desk and working on the computer or reading scientific literature it also includes thinking “on the job”, discussing cases with fellow farriers, vets or other knowledgeable stakeholder as well as collecting data, e.g. taking photographs of horses’ feet or reflecting about what you could have done differently about the last horse while driving to the next horse can count as “study” time.


Each module will have homework associated with it that will be used for assessment.

These comprise participation in online discussions, describing cases, doing a literature search and review and finally a presentation and report of a research study of your choice.

Your studies will be supported at every stage by the staff teaching on each module as well as your personal academic tutor and the Learning Development Team.

Who will I be taught by?

Section 1 of the course, Contemporary Study Skills, will be taught by the Learning Development Team led by Veronica Brewster.

All the staff involved in delivering this section of the course are experienced in supporting vocational learners with little or no experience of post-16 education or with long gaps since undertaking formal education. They are also trained to support students with diagnosed/undiagnosed Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) such as dyslexia/dyspraxia.

Section 2 of the course, is led by Dr. Thilo Pfau and Amy Barstow with support from the Structure and Motion Lab, the Equine Referral Hospital and the anatomy and epidemiology departments.

Dr Thilo Pfau is Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering and has over 10 years experience in researching animal biomechanics. His current research focuses on the quantitative asssessment of lameness in horses. Amy Barstow is a vet and Assistant Lecturer in Clinical Skills who is completing a PhD in the effect of different shoeing techniques on equine biomechanics. Additional teaching and support will be provided by other RVC staff including clinicians, pathologists, epidemiologists and statisticians as needed.

The RVC’s Structure and Motion lab is the most extensive facility in the world dedicated to animal locomotor biomechanics with the horse at its centre. The RVC's clinical facilities combined with the expertise of the equine group provides the ideal ground for the programme in equine locomotor research.

Access to resources

The participants will have access to the RVC library (residential as well as online) resources, allowing access to relevant books, journals and other publications. Online search facilities provide access to multiple databases including CAB, PubMed, Web of Science, WildPro and Cochrane. All students off-campus can access electronic journals, eBooks and databases via the Virtual Learning Environment, RVC Learn.

A joint Helpdesk operates during opening hours, offering library and first-line IT support, audio- visual and classroom support services, user education programmes and a bookshop. On-site IT support is available 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with an off-site out of hours’ service (NorMAN) also provided.

RVC Learn, a Moodle-based Virtual Learning Environment, is used at the RVC to enable students to access course materials online.

For students to be able to successfully complete this course they need practical experience in advanced hoof care and academic capability. 

* * Please note: these are current entry requirements. They are subject to change ahead of the 2020 intake application window * *

Students need to demonstrate their academic ability to work at FHEQ level 5 before starting the course. This will be achieved by a combination of previous experiential learning and the successful completion of a bridging module on contemporary study skills, section 1 of the course.

Admission will be open to all farriers who can demonstrate the necessary experience in advanced foot care and can provide evidence of reflective practice.

3d model of equine foot
3D model of a shod foot with packer comparing hoof deformation in walk (white) and trot (blue)

They will need to provide evidence of:

  • their foot care training (the extent and quality have to be similar to the UK farriery training requirements)
  • a personal statement outlining their work experience with the emphasis on advanced cases. They must have a minimum of two-year post training period, where the applicant must have been the responsible professional in charge of the decision-making process. The caseload must have included cases beyond routine foot care where the applicant must have developed remedial foot care strategies.
  • evidence of their continuous professional development, for example attendance of conferences and course

In addition to providing the above information in the application form candidates must provide

  • a reference letter from a veterinary surgeon confirming that they have worked on advanced foot care case
  • other supporting evidence which may include publications, presentations and reflective case discussions

English Language Requirements

A good working knowledge of scientific English is essential in order to follow the course.

All applicants who are not native English speakers must have an acceptable English Language qualification:

  • IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 or above with minimum 6.5 in each component.

For those without IELTS, please see our English Language Requirements page for a full list of qualifications we will accept as alternatives.  

Applicants who meet these criteria will be selected on the basis of professional achievement.

Students must be able to attend the residential days in person and are responsible for fulfilling all visa requirements if applicable. Students will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation arrangements.

How much does it cost?

Funding information will be available from 2019.

Funding Options

Helena Kennedy Foundation

The Foundation exists to overcome social injustice by providing financial bursaries, mentoring and support to disadvantaged students from the further and adult education sectors, enabling them to complete their studies in higher education and move on successfully into employment or further studies.

Professional and Career Development Loans

We are a Professional and Career Development Loans registered Learning Provider, registration number PCDL02902.

A Professional and Career Development Loan is a commercial bank loan that you can use to help pay for work-related learning.

Top of page