About Dr. Clair Thunes


Born and raised in England Dr Thunes started riding at the age of 8 and from day one was involved in all aspects of her horse’s daily care. She competed in all disciplines including eventing, show jumping, dressage, gymkhana, trail, fox hunting, hunters, side saddle and was an active member of the UK Pony Club attaining her B rating before graduating High School. Her fascination in equine nutrition led her in pursuit of a BSc from Edinburgh where she spent the 3rd year of her degree at University of California Davis. During her undergraduate years Dr Thunes worked as a groom at a boarding stables outside of London looking after clients horses including a medium goal polo string. Dr Thunes played polo for both the Edinburgh and Davis teams. Returning to Davis for her graduate studies Dr Thunes remained involved in the horse community working with local youth as District Commissioner of Panache Pony Club in Davis and as a working student preparing FEI level dressage horses with a local trainer. She also owned and trained a young BLM mustang and competed him in dressage and eventing before selling him on to a youth competition home.

As an equine nutritionist Dr Thunes has worked with a wide range of horses from lactating mares to competitive driving horses, and with a variety of physiological problems including insulin resistance and muscle myopathies, and is happy to work in conjunction with your veterinarian. Dr Thunes believes in finding the right balance not only in the horse’s diet but also between the horse’s needs and the client’s resources. Equally able to work with the individual horse or an entire barn Dr Thunes enjoys the challenges of each unique situation and working with owners to find the optimal solution. Dr Thunes believes her clients should understand why various recommendations are being made and works hard to clearly explain her suggestions. Additionally Dr Thunes shares her knowledge talking with local equestrian groups on a range of nutrition related topics.

Although not currently riding on a regular basis due to recently starting a family, Dr Thunes is still active within her horse community working with local pony clubs and she hopes to get back in the saddle soon.

Qualifications and Memberships

PhD Nutrition. 2005. University of California, Davis
MS Animal Science. 1998. University of California, Davis
BSc. Hons. Animal Science. 1997. Edinburgh University

Veterinary Testimonial

Dr. Thunes is a not only an experienced nutritionist, but also an accomplished scientist. She has an extensive background in horsemanship with longstanding interest in nutrition, which she built upon by achieving a PhD in Nutritional Biology.

The PhD training program in nutrition at UC Davis is intensive and includes at least 2 years of graduate level coursework in addition to research and other scholarly activity. Critical thinking skills are emphasized during this training, and are a crucial tool for assessment and application of all aspects of both theoretical and applied nutritional sciences. Dr. Thunes studied under the mentorship of R.L. Baldwin, a National Academy of Sciences member and luminary in the field of systems analysis and modeling in support of nutritional and animal science research. Collaboration with Dr. Baldwin and other accomplished and respected animal nutritionists at UC Davis shaped Dr. Thunes’ professional development in research as well as other aspects of basic and applied nutrition.

The PhD program also offers the opportunity to hone teaching skills, and Dr. Thunes has expanded on this foundation to become an accomplished and effective instructor. Due to her expertise in equine nutrition she was recruited to instruct first-year veterinary students at UC Davis. Her participation in the Feeds and Feeding Laboratory sessions as well as the Equine Nutrition lecture were invaluable and provided essential information not available elsewhere in the curriculum.   

Nutrition is critically important to achieve and maintain optimal health and ensure optimal performance. Dr. Thunes is uniquely trained in the nutritional management of both healthy animals and those with one or more diseases. Her professionalism and expertise are unrivaled, and she continues to actively learn and participate in scientific discourse. Her strong background and ongoing pursuit of current knowledge in nutritional sciences allow her to effectively develop customized nutritional management plans while communicating with clients to encourage their involvement in and understanding of the needs of the animals in their care.

Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, DACVN
Nutrition Support Service
William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

 University of California, Davis