Dr Sue Dyson MA, Vet MB, PhD, DEO, Dip ECVSMR, FRCVS announces her retirement from the Animal Health Trust

The Saddle Research Trust would like to convey very best wishes to Sue in her retirement. We are absolutely delighted that she will continue in her role as SRT Veterinary Advisor, a position she has held from our beginning in 2009. Sue works tirelessly to promote the welfare and performance of ridden horses and her horseman’s eye, knowledge, experience and thoroughness are legendary. Sue’s lifetime of scientific research has been fundamental in improving the standards of equine welfare and performance and her generosity in sharing this has set a wonderful example throughout the equine industry.

SRT Director, Dr. Anne Bondi, said, “I first met Sue in 1992. I had just sold my good event horse to an American rider for a substantial sum and naturally the buyer wanted the best vetting in the UK, so I was asked to take my horse to be examined at the Animal Health Trust by Sue. My lovely horse had just been placed at Windsor Horse Trials, so naturally I was not worried that he might fail. I was horrified when Sue gave him the thumbs down and the sale fell through. Unaware of Sue’s feisty reputation, I said to her that since she had failed the horse, she could fix it! But fix it she did, and we went on to be placed at Blenheim Horse Trials. Sue has since “fixed” many horses of mine over the years and we have become good friends in the process. I have always said that when she retires, I will have to stop riding because I cannot imagine trying to keep horses sound and happy without her help. I am definitely not ready to hang my boots up any time soon, so am mightily relieved that Sue will continue working as a consultant.”

Sue won the SRT Welfare and Performance Practitioner Award at the 3rd Saddle Research Trust International Conference in December last year. The result was determined by public vote and Sue moved everyone at the awards ceremony with her heartfelt acceptance speech. Sue said, “I have received many awards over the course of my career, but this is the first time that I have won by public vote and this honour is very humbling.” An emotional Sue was clearly close to tears; not a sight that many people will be familiar with. Sue’s professionalism and self-discipline have meant that every day, she has had to deal with difficult situations and often be the bearer of bad news. But many owners of horses that Sue has treated over the years will testify to Sue’s soft centre of compassion, kindness and empathy, especially when owners are faced with heart-breaking decisions. This level of pressure that many vets work under all day, every day, throughout their careers sadly remains under-recognised by those outside the profession. Anne Bondi said, “I nicknamed Sue ‘The Duracell Bunny’ because her batteries just never seem to give up. I have never known anyone so driven or able to achieve so much. Her workload at the AHT was phenomenal and every year the new interns would struggle in vain to keep up with her. She never says ‘no’ and always finds time to help people around her when they need it.” 
Sue has had to make many personal sacrifices during her career. Anne continues, “When I first met her, Sue was still competing and had a good horse, but although she kept him at livery very close to the AHT, she still struggled to fit riding in with her demanding job. She was unable to take time off work to compete and eventually had to make the tough decision to quit riding. Having competed to a high level before joining the AHT, she was simply not willing to settle for doing something by half. I think that sums Sue up. I look forward to seeing Sue taking up the reins again and being able to enjoy the sport she loves once more. ”

A career of outstanding achievements

Sue qualified from the University of Cambridge in 1980 and following award of a Thouron Scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, she completed an Internship in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery at New Bolton Centre. Sue then spent a year in private equine practice in Pennsylvania, before returning to Great Britain to take a position in clinical orthopaedics in the Centre for Equine Studies of the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket where she ran a clinical referral service for lameness and poor performance, attracting clients from all over the United Kingdom, Ireland and continental Europe for 37 years.

Sue was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the RCVS Diploma in Equine Orthopaedics. She was awarded a PhD by the University of Helsinki and is recognised as a Specialist in Equine Orthopaedics by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She is a Founding Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. 

Sue has lectured internationally and published widely on equine orthopaedics and diagnostic imaging, has been an examiner for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and for the Royal College Fellowship, has acted as an advisor for candidates for the RCVS Certificates and as a co-supervisor of PhD students. Sue is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of many scientific journals and acts as a regular peer reviewer for many veterinary journals. Sue has been a long-standing member of Council of the British Equine Veterinary Association and is a past President. She has also been a long-standing member of the Board of the World Equine Veterinary Association and Vice-President.
 Sue has received many awards throughout her long and distinguished career:

  • Richard Hartley Clinical Prize by the Equine Veterinary Journal 
  • British Equine Veterinary Association John Hickman Orthopaedic Award for outstanding contributions to equine orthopaedics
  • Honorary Member of the British Equine Veterinary Association
  • American Publishers award for excellence in professional and scholarly publishing 
  • Home of Rest for Horses Clinical Evidence Literary Prize awarded by the Equine Veterinary Journal
  • Tierklinik Hochmoor award for outstanding, innovative and lasting contributions to equine veterinary medicine worldwide 
  • Associate of the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging
  • BEVA Congress Voorjaarsdagen Award for the best clinical research presentation
  • International Veterinary Radiology Association J Kevin Kealy Award for scientific contributions to veterinary radiology
  • International Equine Veterinarians Hall of Fame
  • American Association of Equine Practitioners Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture
  • Animal Health Trust Veterinary Achievement Award
  • Honorary member of Societa Italiana Veterinari Per Equini (SIVE), Italy 
  • University of Kentucky Equine Research Hall of Fame
    Sue also holds the Instructors and Stable Managers Certificates of the British Horse Society (BHSI) and has competed at advanced level in both horse trials and show jumping, producing horses that have subsequently competed successfully at the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games. She is a former veterinary advisor to British Eventing.

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