Presenter Biographies


Dr Rachel Murray
Mark Fisher
Russell Guire
Ben Benson
Sophie Thomas
Andy Malyon
Jennie Killilea
Sarah Armstrong
John van Appeldoorn
Tjalling van den Berg

Dr. Rachel C. Murray MA, VetMB, MS, Ph.D, Dip ACVS, Dip ECVS, MRCVS

rachelRachel Murray is a veterinary surgeon with a particular interest in sport horse injuries and performance.  She is a Diplomate of the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Surgeons, and has led a number of studies investigating sport horse training, injury and performance.  She has published over 100 articles on orthopaedic problems in horses and is invited to lecture worldwide.

Rachel graduated in veterinary medicine from the University of Cambridge, before specialising in equine surgery.  She spent 5 years working in the USA at the University of Missouri and Kansas State University before returning to England to become the equine surgeon at the University of Cambridge, and subsequently completed a Ph.D. investigating exercise-associated joint adaptation and injury in horses.   She has been based at the Animal Health Trust since 1997 in a variety of roles including Head of the Centre for Equine Studies.  She is currently Senior Orthopaedic Advisor at the Animal Health Trust where she is in charge of the Equine Magnetic Resonance Imaging diagnostic service, runs the orthopaedic research group and provides a clinical service focussed on poor performance in sports horses.  Her research and clinical work is centred around sport horse training, performance and injury development, and application of advanced imaging techniques in the diagnosis of orthopaedic injury.  She also works for the British Equestrian Federation, providing scientific advice for the British Equestrian teams and as a veterinary surgeon and Assistant Team Vet with the World Class Dressage squads since 2009.

Rachel has ridden in a variety of equestrian sports, including competing to Grand Prix level in dressage and achieving a silver medal at the European student championships in 1985.  She has also competed to International level in rowing and has considerable experience as a trainer/coach in rowing and riding.  She is married to another vet, and they have two daughters competing internationally in dressage at pony, junior and young rider level, including being part of the gold medal-winning GB pony team at the European Championships in 2015.

Mark Fisher

markMark Fisher left the King’s Troop RHA as the Master Saddler in 2004, after 22 years service. In the army, he competed in eventing where he reached intermediate level and in team chasing up to open level. He has also been involved in show jumping and hunts on a regular basis. Mark is a registered, qualified saddle fitter and regularly lectures and assesses for the Society of Master Saddlers. Mark was fortunate enough to be employed as the official Master Saddler of the London 2012 Olympic games. He also works in conjunction with the British Equestrian Federation on the World Class Programme, operating the Pliance saddle pressure system, which is jointly owned by the BEF and the SMS. He is also employed as an overseas trainer for the World Horse Welfare, working with working horses in developing countries.

Russell Guire

russellRussell has an Honours degree in Equine and Human Sports Science and specialises in horse and rider biomechanics.

Russell manages his company, Centaur Biomechanics, which specialises in horse and rider performance analysis. Russell has been working with the BEF offering performance analysis to horse and riders on the dressage, showjumping, eventing and para-equestrian dressage teams since 2006. Russell is also doing his PhD at the Royal Veterinary College's, Structure and Motion Lab. Russell will be looking at the effect that saddle position has on spinal kinematics and rider positioning and how this influences performance.

Ben Benson

benBen grew up in West Wales and was bought up around horses and shoeing as his father was a Farrier. Ben left school and once completing a college engineering qualification then started his Farriery apprenticeship in 1999, training under Haydn Price and finishing with David Smith AWCF. As an apprentice farrier he enjoyed competition success. He was part of the Welsh apprentice team each year, and as an individual, won the national championships twice. In his third year of his apprenticeship he represented the senior Welsh qualified team in Verona, Italy, and in his final fourth year was part of the winning Warwickshire College team at the European College Championships in Saumur.

Following qualification in 2003, Ben set up on his own, as well as working freelance for Haydn Price and other well-known qualified farriers. At this point his interest in shoeing sports horses increased significantly. He saw to what extent shoeing and its effect could influence the horses gait, soundness, and range of movement. This led Ben then to gravitate his business and shoeing practice towards the sports and performance horses that he is known for shoeing. He now has a successful business in North Oxfordshire that employs 2 qualified Farriers and has 2 apprentices with a client list from hairy ponies to 3* and 4* eventers, Grand Prix dressage horses and Global Champions tour showjumpers. He also works with many varied vet practices and alongside all other team associated para professionals.

He was one of the 2 Head Farriers at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics and he was also at the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the last few years Ben has worked with the British Equestrian Federation as Farrier on their Excel Talent program and is the Farrier for the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Equestrian program looking after the Eventing’s podium program. Ben also sits on the Executive Committee for the British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association which looks to promote and develop the farriery industry within the UK.

In his past time Ben is a keen field sportsman and regularly goes shooting and where time permits, hunts and fishes when possible.

Sophie Thomas

sophieSophie has been with the BEF for 15 years since, holding the post of Assistant to the World Class Performance Director until switching roles in 2015 after the birth of her son to become the BEF’s Anti-Doping Programme Manager.  During her time as Assistant to the World Class Performance Director, Sophie travelled to 4 World Equestrian Games, 3 Olympic Games and numerous European Championships as part of the central support team.

Sophie was instrumental in the formulation and implementation of the British Equestrian Federation’s Anti-Doping Rules (BEFAR) and National Equine Therapeutic Use Exemption (NETUE) process and continues to review those in conjunction with the BEF’s General Counsel and in line with changes to the FEI’s international rules and to the World Anti-Doping Code.

Her current Anti-Doping Programme Manager role covers all aspects of the BEF’s anti-doping programme for both humans and horses across all of the FEI disciplines, including the organisation of all testing carried out under the Medication Control Programme, case management and the education of athletes, owners, grooms and support personnel.  The BEFAR were introduced in their current guise in 2012 but Sophie is its first Programme Manager.  Sophie is keen to expand all aspects of the Programme, but particularly the education of those involved in equestrian sports, to ensure a level playing field for all and, more importantly, to protect the welfare of the horses and ponies competing.

Sophie has ridden and competed since she was very young but doesn’t have her own horse at the moment.  She is married to Andrew and they have a two year old son, Edward.  In her spare time(!), Sophie plays tennis competitively and is a Level 2 British Showjumping judge.

Andy Malyon

Andy spent 20 years in the army, seeing service in a variety of overseas hotspots. Having completed training in plastic surgery and serving in a military hospital as a consultant plastic surgeon during that time he decided to leave and secured an NHS post at the Canniesburn plastic surgery unit in Glasgow.

Andy's wife has kept horses for many years, so whilst Andy is at most a very reluctant rider he has been around horses for many years.

Along with a group of colleagues with similar interests Andy has provided medical cover at local BE events (Eglington, Auchinleck & Drumclog) as well as being on the medical team at Blair Castle three day event for the past few years.   He also works as a Racecourse Medical Officer at Ayr

Jennie Killilea

Jennie has extensive experience of working with elite equestrian athletes across all disciplines. She has worked with the BEF’s World Class equestrian athletes for 15 years, supporting them to get the best out of their performances. Jennie draws on her in-depth knowledge of sport psychology, personal performance insight and understanding of the unique sporting environment and challenges faced by riders.

She has also worked with GB Rowing, a SuperLeague club, EuroPro Tour golfers, triathletes and various other professional and amateur athletes and players.

Jennie is a former 3* event rider, representing GB at the Young Rider European Championships and achieving a top 10 placing. Jennie was a keen Pony Club tetrathlete, winning the team National Championships and representing England. Jennie has enjoyed competing in a range of sports including representative netball, swimming and fencing.  

Jennie has 8 years’ experience as a senior university lecturer has an MSc in Sport Psychology, is a BASES Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist, a Health Care and Professionals Council (HCPC) registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist and a Certified Scientist (CSci).

Sarah Armstrong

sarahSarah is currently the Head of Logistics, Para Dressage Performance Manager & Acting Performance Director for the British Equestrian Federation World Class Programme.

She pursued an investment career in the City for some 17 years prior to joining the World Class team in 2007. Sarah comes from an Eventing and Hunting background and served time as an MFH, MH and Field Master for a number of seasons.  Sarah now competes in affiliated dressage as time allows. More recently Sarah has set up a small breeding programme with two foundation mares.

At the BEF and within the World Class Programme Sarah’s role covers the operational aspects of the Programme including the logistics for Championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games. More recently Sarah has taken on the role as Performance Manager for the Podium Para Dressage Squad and was their Team Manager at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.   

John van Appeldoorn and Tjalling van den Berg

johntjalling                   http://www.eco-coach.nl

 Others to come soon.....