MSc by Research: Measuring Racehorse Welfare: Development and Implementation of a Racehorse Specific Welfare Assessment

University of Bristol - Bristol Vet School

The project:

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a large project expected to have an important impact on racehorse welfare. Currently, a range of parameters for assessing the welfare of equids are described in the research literature, but very few of these are racehorse specific.  Thoroughbreds actively involved in racing are in the public eye and are treated as elite athletes, as well as representing a substantial part of the UK equine population.  Many of the classic physical health and nutrition-type welfare indicators applied to abandoned and low value animals are of limited relevance to the racing sector.

This project will develop racehorse-relevant welfare measures through a collaborative, co-construction process with racehorse industry stakeholders.  Potential new measures will be developed, tested and re-evaluated by stakeholder groups and then integrated with existing relevant measures to form a robust, industry relevant racehorse welfare assessment tool.

This 1 Year, full-time, MSc project will aid in the development and validation of novel measure(s) of racehorse welfare prior to widespread trialling.

Following development of an assessment tool the University of Bristol team will work with British Horseracing Authority staff to conduct a baseline welfare assessment survey of UK racehorses which will highlight good welfare practice as well as identify areas for potential improvement. The project will be continually working towards initiating industry uptake and ownership of the welfare assessment tool and will develop policy recommendations for embedding the welfare assessment process in the racehorse industry to provide on-going impact beyond the life of this project. Initially, this tool will be created for use with horses in training, with the other life stages considered subsequently in follow up projects.

The project is funded by The Racing Foundation and is led by Prof Becky Whay and Dr Siobhan Mullan.

The project is based in Bristol Veterinary School, within the Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of Bristol’s Langford Campus. The successful candidate will work alongside internationally renowned researchers within the Animal Welfare and Behaviour group.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select ‘Faculty of Health Sciences’ and then ‘Veterinary Science_(MSc by research)’on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Candidate requirements:  Candidates should have or be expected to obtain, a First/Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or equivalent outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science including veterinary science. 

Funding: The project is funded by The Racing Foundation and covers tuition fees for UK/EU students and a tax-free stipend of £18,000 per year. Applications from international students outside of the EU would be considered, however the candidate would be expected to fund the difference between the EU and overseas fee.

Contacts: For more information please contact

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South West England