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UCLan student to gain one of the world’s first-ever PhDs in farriery

Posted on - 23rd June, 2020 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - People, Preston News, UCLan, University
UCLan PhD student and Myerscough College and University College graduate Norman Johnson graduating
Norman at his graduation Pic: UCLan

A 53-year-old University of Central Lancashire student is looking to become one of the world’s only PhD qualified experts in farriery (equine hoof care).

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Norman Johnson, originally from St Helens, will join just three other holders of the PhD in Farriery internationally once he completes his doctorate studies and will be one of just a handful worldwide to be qualified at that level.

Norman is also studying a DipHE and BSc (Hons) in Farriery Science at the University Centre, Myerscough. When he discovered that he could study for a PhD in Farriery with UCLan, he jumped at the opportunity.

Norman said: “I did not originally think about doing a PhD but, having done well with the BSc (Hons) course at Myerscough and having enjoyed the experience, I was hooked on the idea of doing more research into farriery as a subject.

“I was aware that it is very unusual for farriery to be studied at this level but it seemed very much like something I needed to do.”

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Norman began his career with horses working for 15 years at the racing yards in Newmarket, servicing around two hundred horses for a number of high-profile racing trainers.

He has also had experience working with dressage and eventing horses, as well as polo ponies but he soon discovered that farriery was an area that he wanted to specialise in.

UCLan PhD student and Myerscough College and University College graduate Norman Johnson practising his work
Norman hopes to make a positive difference to the sector Pic: UCLan

Norman said: “The hoof capsule of the horse is a very intricate, if not amazing piece of engineering. It carries half a ton of horse at speeds over 40mph and therefore is subject to huge stresses.

“The farriery industry is crying out for some injection of science, and with this particular course of study I feel that I may hopefully be able to make a positive difference to the sector in the future with the work I am doing.

“My hope is with the completion of the PhD I will be to try to help educate and more importantly inspire others to become involved in research which is such a desperately needed area of the profession.”

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Norman hopes to follow in the footsteps of renowned farrier Dr Simon Curtis, who also studied at UCLan and is one of just three specialists currently world wide known to have a PhD in the area.

Mick Cottam, Assistant Principal for Higher Education at Myerscough College and University Centre, said: “As a major provider of farriery courses in the UK, Myerscough plays a key role in training the next generation of farriers, to ensure standards within the industry remain as high as they can be.

“Despite being an ancient craft, farriery is constantly evolving, and remains a vitally important part of the equine industry.

“Norman’s research is sector leading and along with similar work undertaken by Myerscough Fellow, Dr Simon Curtis, will ensure equine science remains a key part of the industry’s thinking. We wish him all the best in his work.’’

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