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Harper Adams University alumna’s research project published in journal

Posted 2 March

"I hoped that this project would increase overall awareness of IBH among key stakeholders in the equine industry. I also wanted people to discuss the condition more openly and think about how to manage it better."

An Honours Research Project (HRP) looking at the experiences and opinions of people in the equine industry on equine insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH), in the hope people would discuss the condition more openly and think about how better to manage it has recently been published by the online journal Veterinary Sciences.

Hannah Lomas, 22, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, graduated last September from the BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare programme.

During her final year, she completed her HRP which was titled: ‘A pilot qualitative investigation of stakeholders’ experiences and opinions of equine insect bite hypersensitivity in England’.

Looking back on her results, Hannah said: “I found that although a lot of people had heard of IBH (sweet itch) within the equine industry and many had experienced it first-hand, the knowledge of the midge that causes the hypersensitivity was limited in terms of the conditions it thrives in and when it is most likely to occur.

“The results are important as it identified where the gaps in knowledge surrounding IBH are with individuals in the equine industry. They provide a background of IBH and raised awareness of the condition.

“It crucially provides a starting point for further research to build on to improve the future for owners who have horses that suffer from IBH.

“It also brings sweet itch forward into the public eye and gets people to think about the condition that can severely affect a horse’s long term welfare and wellbeing.”

Hannah decided to look into IBH as she’d grown up around horses and spent time helping her aunt from a young age.

“She previously owned horses that suffered from IBH,” explained Hannah, “and this resulted in her either spending a lot of time and money trying to manage the hypersensitivity or getting them rehomed due to the severity of the condition.

“My HRP project allowed me to combine both a topic that I had a personal interest in and the learning from my degree course.

“I hoped that this project would increase overall awareness of IBH among key stakeholders in the equine industry. I also wanted people to discuss the condition more openly and think about how to manage it better.

“I never would’ve expected for the paper to be published but it makes me immensely proud, and glad that the time and effort I put into the project is being recognised further afield, including an article summary being written in New Zealand!

“I’d like to thank Philip Robinson for all the support he gave me throughout my final year of study, for being my dissertation tutor and spending time to get my HRP published.”

Hannah is now on a two year graduate scheme with Cranswick plc.

Read the Veterinary Sciences article

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