Worldwide interest in new group dedicated to horse soundness

Senior Lecturer in Bio-Engineering, Dr-Ing Thilo Pfau, at work at the New Bolton Center last year. 
Senior Lecturer in Bio-Engineering, Dr-Ing Thilo Pfau, at work at the New Bolton Center last year.

In its first 100 days, the new Equine Soundness Professionals vet-farrier group has built a solid base for future growth and membership benefits.

Founder and farrier David Gilliam of Texas reports interest from around the world in the new  organization, and enthusiasm from farriers and veterinarians who plan to participate in both the proposed testing program and the in-depth seminars planned for members and colleagues.

This spring, Professor Chris Pollitt, BVSc, PhD, will be assisting Gilliam as a professional qualification evaluation advisor. Pollitt, who is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Queensland and founder of the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, is the author of two of the leading reference books on the equine foot, The Color Atlas of the Horse’s Foot (1995) and The Illustrated Horse’s Foot (2015), both published by Elsevier. Pollitt is an author in 111 peer-reviewed scientific papers on laminitis and the biology of the horse’s foot and has contributed to 14 books and book chapters. Through the AELRU, he supervised 17 post-graduate students through their masters or PhD research on the foot or laminitis.

Pollitt will be advising on the content of qualifying examinations for veterinarians and farriers seeking endorsement by ESP. He is currently reviewing test questions in Australia.

Dr-Ing Thilo Pfau
Dr-Ing Thilo Pfau

From the other side of the world, the Royal Veterinary College (London) Structure and Motion Laboratory Senior Lecturer in Bio-Engineering, Dr-Ing Thilo Pfau, PhD, FHEA has been named to the ESP’s Advisory Board. [The title “Dr-Ing” — Doktoringenieur — is the German engineering doctorate degree.]

Pfau frequently lectures in the United States as a leader of the RVC’s Graduate Research Diploma in Equine Locomotion course residencies held at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center. His research covers many facets of equine biomechanics, particularly related to the hoof’s interface with the ground and the use of inertial measurement units (IMUs) to discern asymmetry of movement in the horse.

In March, ESP hosted its first seminar for veterinarians and farriers; it was held during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

ESP is now juggling logistics for a conference with Professor Pollitt, tentatively planned for the fall in the United States.

“It’s been more than five years since he has lectured in North America,” Gilliam said. “We’d like to bring him back to update his many longtime followers in America, and introduce him to a new generation of veterinarians and farriers.

“Both Professor Pollitt and Dr Pfau will be great additions to our current outstanding pool of advisors, and give us international reach and resources,” Gilliam said.

In the future, ESP hopes to host two or three subject-specific in-depth seminars per year in the United States.

Full paid ESP membership opens in the second quarter of 2019. Veterinarians and farriers will be able to apply to join ESP and will have the option of starting to take ESP examinations. Members will also enjoy benefits such as conference registration discounts and subscriptions.

Gilliam stressed that ESP exists for the mutual benefit of both veterinarians and farriers, and to provide an open platform for both professions. “ESP is not about numbers or profit,” he said. “We are about education, improving the industry, and coordination/collaboration between vets and farriers. ESP has been about the common ground between vets and farriers from the start.”

Specific questions about the credentialing process are addressed here.
Further information on membership and events are available on the Equine Soundness Professionals website.
For general inquiries, email

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