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Gemma Pearson presenting the John Hickman Memorial Lecture

A Look Back at Last Week’s BEVA Congress Highlights

Last week The Horse Trust attended British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) annual Congress, the largest gathering of equine veterinary professionals outside of the US, packed full of success and learnings for the whole veterinary sector.

We were honoured to be represented by Dr Gemma Pearson, Director of Behaviour at The Horse Trust who presented the inspiring John Hickman Memorial Lecture and Jim Green, Co-Founder of our partner organisation British Animal Rescue & Trauma Care Association (BARTA), who won the BEVA Equine Welfare Award for his outstanding commitment to equine wellbeing.

Our congratulations extend to our Veterinary Director, Nicola Housby-Skeggs, who was elected on to the BEVA Council and to Professor Peter Clegg, Trustee of The Horse Trust and Professor of Musculoskeletal Biology at University of Liverpool, who received an Honorary Membership as a fitting tribute to his countless contributions to BEVA’s EVJ journals over the years. We were also incredibly proud to see 15 academic papers presented in key lectures that were funded by The Horse Trust or originated from Horse Trust funded projects.

It’s safe to say spirits are high here at The Horse Trust. A huge thank you to BEVA for bringing the sector together in such a productive, enlightening and enjoyable way.

BEVA, established in 1966 and patroned by HRH The Princess Royal, is the largest organisation in the UK supporting veterinary professionals by providing resources, connections and inspirations to achieve high standards of equine health and welfare. Every year they hold an annual Congress showcasing the newest developments in equine veterinary practice.

Greater Focus on Behavioural Science

The event was a clear marker for the exciting course the equine sector is currently taking, highlighted by the great focus placed on behavioural science and human behaviour change. Key discussions centred around how these disciplines can support the wellbeing of horses, whilst working towards protecting vets who face unnecessarily high levels of risk at work.

As Gemma Pearson, Behavioural Director at The Horse Trust, shared in her plenary lecture:

“Equine vets sustain an unacceptably high level of injuries from the horses they are trying to treat. But we often forget that these are normal behavioural responses to an acute stressor for this species… we can use an understanding of equine behaviour to quickly achieve compliance from our patients. Furthermore, equine behavioural medicine is an exciting and rapidly evolving discipline.”

As something that has been at the forefront of The Horse Trust’s work over the past 16 years, this level of emphasis on equine behaviour at such a prominent event felt like a huge win to the whole team.

Veterinary Director, Nicky, Elected to BEVA Council

Veterinary Director for The Horse Trust, Nicola Housby-Skeggs, has also been campaigning to see the veterinary sector sharing more of its findings from adverse and significant events to inform the future safety of our vets and patients. We were delighted to see that her ideas resonated with the wider veterinary audience, who voted to elect her on to the BEVA Council. After starting her career in The Royal Army Veterinary Corps as veterinary officer where she developed Large Animal Rescue training as a core activity for the regiments, she has since taken on the role not only as Veterinary Director at The Horse Trust, but as chairperson for BARTA. Nicky says:

“I’m really looking forward to championing this brilliant profession through my election to BEVA council. I will be closely supporting newly elected BEVA president Professor Roger Smith who has been a tremendous support to The Horse Trust especially with his care and advice regarding our former and current beloved residents, Daniel and Hamish.”

Congrats All Around!

Jim Green receiving an award from HRH Princess Royal
Jim Green receives an award from HRH Princess Royal. Photo credits @JasSansi

Our congratulations extend to Jim Green, Co-Founder of our partner organisation British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA) who won the BEVA Equine Welfare Award Sponsored by The Blue Cross. BARTA was established in 2007 following firefighters need for more guidance involving animal rescue and behaviour. Jim Green was central to the launch of the Emergency Services Protocol and equine veterinary directory by the British Horse Society and British Equine Veterinary Association. Today, BARTA is a subsidiary of The Horse Trust – together we provide support for a long-term vision to help agencies who deal with emergencies involving animals. We were thrilled to see such a fitting tribute for all of Jim’s hard work over the years.

Peter received BEVA Honorary Membership in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Association. Claire, spokesperson for BEVA, said:

“This nomination reflects our gratitude for the support Peter have given over the years in his role as Associate Editor of EVJ and, in particular, for helping to achieve balance between the interests of our clinical readers and the priorities of academics relying on publications for career advancement. Peter has been instrumental in ensuring that high scientific standards have been maintained in our review process and policies, allowing us to continue to be the leading international journal in equine veterinary science.”

Last though, and certainly not least, we were warmed by the knowledge that public support and donations over the years has contributed to the funding of vital research projects which are propelling advancements within the veterinary sector. It was fantastic to witness 15 Congress presentations linked to Horse Trust-funded projects on stage over the three days; a proud moment not only for our Research and Policy team but everyone here at The Horse Trust.

Jeanette Allen, CEO of The Horse Trust, says:

“I was at the Congress in the morning and could not have been prouder of The Horse Trust, our amazing team and our many achievements, across the wide spectrum of ways in which we continue improving the lives of horses. From the new approaches to veterinary behavioural science pioneered by Gemma, to Nicky, for her incredibly well-deserved election on to the BEVA council, our colleague Jim for his award honouring his tireless commitment to equine wellbeing through the fantastic work of our BARTA colleagues, and of course to Prof. Pete Clegg, a long time Trustee of The Horse Trust, first ever Horse Trust sponsored resident and now a world recognised leader in equine veterinary scientific research…. The Horse Trust was truly represented across an incredibly diverse range of subjects at the event, and I am beyond proud of our collective achievements. It was a humbling experience.”

BEVA Congress runs across six streams that cover the breadth of the equine veterinary sciences and with a mix of lectures, workshops and practical’s, it is the place to listen and interact with leading practitioners, be updated on the latest innovations and hear perspectives from world-renowned specialists.

The Horse Trust and BEVA are both patroned by The Princess Royal, who works closely with a number of equine organisations to strive for the ever-evolving higher standards in equine care.

We would like to congratulate everyone nominated, awarded and striving towards a better future for the equine profession.

Your kind support enables us to continue to drive the development of our understanding into equine behaviour and mental wellbeing. The more we can do this, the more we can continue to provide the best standards of care for our herd and share this knowledge with the wider equine community. To find out how you can support us, head to the link below.

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