Alumni Profiles: Where are they now?

Thomas Zuffa

Tom joined SRUC Oatridge Campus in 2016 and went onto graduate with both a HNC and HND in Equine Studies. His story is inspiring and he is a great example of the extensive opportunities that can be found in his field. Thomas is currently taking a break from studying, but intends to go onto study a PhD. in equine welfare. Here is his story.

Age: 35

Where are you from?

Slovakia

Why you chose to study at SRUC and why did you choose this particular course?

I moved to Scotland with my wife, and as I have always had an interest in horses but did not have any formal education in this field, SRUC was a great option. A year before I started my course, I found the course information online and attended an SRUC Open Day. On the day, I was impressed by the facilities and friendliness and expertise of the staff and decided to apply to join the next year’s cohort

Other than your course of study, what did you do during your time at SRUC (including student clubs/summer jobs/volunteering/internships):

I did several placements, one at Mr Andrew Hamilton’s show jumping yard, another at the Romanno Stud farm and the Friesians Scotland stud farm/trail riding yard. Thanks to these experiences, I gained useful practical skills and met lovely people. During my studies, with the support from SRUC, I also completed the Safeguarding Course, the British Horse Society (BHS) Stage One Horse Knowledge, Care & Riding Exam and Level 1 UKCC Equestrian Coaching Assistant Certificate.

What’s your favourite/most memorable memory of your time as an SRUC student (including notable personal and professional achievements):

I was lucky to have a chance to do some extra riding which I loved. I have a very fresh and fond memory of helping to bring some of my most favourite college horses back to work after their injury.

What inspired you most during your time at SRUC (including guest speakers, lecturers, research, friendships, extra-curricular activities):

It was not one particular thing or moment. The overall atmosphere was very open, friendly and conducive to learning. During my time at SRUC, I felt that I could approach my lecturers at any time and I still keep in touch with them.

Describe SRUC in five words:

Welcoming, inspiring, well-equipped, practical, horsey!

Please provide a brief summary of your career since graduation:

I very much enjoy learning new things, so I decided to continue with my studies. I have recently completed MSc in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law with Distinction from the University of Glasgow. My final project at the University of Glasgow explored associations between Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature and post-cross-country physiological outcomes of horses competing at the Fédération Équestre Internationale events.

What is your current role and can you describe your average day?

Since I have just recently finished my studies, I am taking a short holiday just now. I am interested in doing PhD studies in equine health and welfare, as I would like to contribute to improving the conditions of competition and working horses.

How has your SRUC education contributed to your success / how did your course help prepare you for your career:

Both theoretical knowledge and practical experience I obtained at SRUC have helped me to better understand available scientific evidence in equine health and welfare, which I encountered during my MSc studies. Thanks to the Equine Studies at SRUC, I have a better understanding of the needs of horses, equestrians, and professionals involved in the equine industry.

Do you have any outstanding long-term ambitions (personal or professional)?

I am interested in the field of animal welfare science with a particular focus on relationships between welfare and performance of competition and working horses. Ideally, I would like to work in research in this area. However, as I love riding, I am also interested in improving my equestrian skills and completing more advanced riding and coaching qualifications. In the future, I would like to dedicate some of my time to lecturing and teaching horse-riding as well.

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