Riders’ breasts and horses’ sleeping habits are among the student studies in contention at open-to-view online event.

Four finalists have been named for the BETA Equine Thesis of the Year.

The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) award recognises academic excellence in undergraduate study. 

This year’s contenders, chosen after preliminary judging, will present their theses to a panel of judges during an online event on Sunday, 25 October. 

Everyone is invited to view the presentations. See below for booking details. 

Undergraduate theses were entered for the award by universities and colleges offering equine-related degree courses across the UK and Ireland. The following have made the finals: 

Royal Veterinary College – Victoria O’Hara. Thesis: Use of commercial ELISA for deduction of myostatin protein in equine serum and the examination of an MSTN gene promoter SINE insertion mutation in vivo.

University Centre Sparsholt – Rachel Smith. Thesis: The effect of breast support on 3D relative breast displacement and upper body muscle activity in female horse riders on an equine simulator.

Aberystwyth University – Daniela Amiouny. Thesis: The effects of night light and bedding depth on equine sleep and memory consolidation.

Bishop Burton College – Nina Robinson. Thesis: A preliminary report on the pressure present beneath bitless and bitted bridles and the effect on equine locomotion.

Once the finalists have presented their work and the judges retire to consider each thesis, members of the audience can pose their questions. The winner and runner-up will be announced at the end of the event. 

“The award always attracts an incredibly high standard of undergraduate study and this year was no different – although the subject matter certainly was,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. 

“It is good to see fresh ideas and some exciting, diverse content being put under the spotlight, and we are really looking forward to hearing about the different approaches and findings. They have all done tremendously well to make it this far and we send our congratulations and best wishes for the big day.”

How to view

The BETA Equine Thesis of the Year finals (from 1pm to 4.30pm on Sunday, 25 October) are open to the public and members of the academic community. 

It’s free for students who should contact BETA for a discount code. A £10 charge applies to everyone else. Book tickets here:

This year's final judges are:

• Dr Georgina Crossman – a research consultant and owner of GK Crossman Consultancy. She is a guest lecturer at various institutions, speaking on subjects such as the structure of the horse sector and the relationship between the horse industry and government.

• Katie Williams – an equine nutritionist with 20 years’ experience. She gained a master’s degree in equine science from Writtle College and received the Edgar Pye Scholarship for her dissertation on the effects of prebiotics on racehorses in training. In 2017, Katie embarked on her PhD in veterinary medicine research at the University of Glasgow. As technical and product development manager at Dengie, she is responsible for creating new products and ensuring they are legally compliant. Katie also sits on the BETA Feed Committee, provides technical support for key customers and works with the Queen's studs at Sandringham and Balmoral.

• Karen Coumbe – a vet for more than 30 years who began her career in a mixed practice, then in 1989 co-founded a specialist equine practice, Bell Equine, in Kent, which developed into a 17-vet equine hospital approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Karen has been a partner since 1995 and became a director in 2012. She has a particular interest in equine anaesthesia and pain management, as well as sports medicine and equine performance, pre-purchase exams, ophthalmology, dermatology and ultrasonography. She writes veterinary books and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Horse & Hound.

Liz Benwell – editor of leading trade title Equestrian Trade News (ETN). Liz began her career in journalism as a newspaper reporter, was the first editor of Your Horse magazine and is a self-confessed horsey ‘anorak’. She has enjoyed competing in many equestrian sports at amateur level, with long-distance riding a particular favourite, has three horses, all of which are rehomed from World Horse Welfare, and rides most days. 

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay