Tuesday, June 09, 2020

First US farriers graduate from Royal Veterinary College's Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research

American farrier Grad Dip ELR 2020 graduates and faculty (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. (Not pictured: Stephen Teichman)

The Royal Veterinary College has announced the graduation of the first group of American farrier students to compete the Graduate Diploma in Equine Locomotor Research (Grad Dip ELR). Launched in 2017, it is the first course of its kind, and offers 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 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.

Course Director Dr Thilo Pfau, Associate Professor in Bio-Engineering at the RVC, 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," he concluded.

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!”

Student Darren Owen of Virginia 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.

The course 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 exciting 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 honored to be allowed to lead this endeavor.

"We are now seeing this course contribute to the scientific evidence base through farrier-led publications from our graduates in peer-reviewed scientific journals (e.g., 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 RVC's Grad Dip ELR course, please visit:

UK-based course (2021 intake)
USA-based course (2022 intake)

The information for this article was provided by the Royal Veterinary College. An obvious footnote to this news is that the coronavirus pandemic prevented the students from traveling to Great Britain for an official graduation at the Royal Veterinary College this spring. Graduation for the RVC will be online later this month.

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