February 15, 2001


 San Antonio proves popular site for AAEP convention

Posted Feb. 1, 2001


AAEP executive committee
The AAEP executive committee was introduced during the president's luncheon: Drs. C. Wayne McIlwraith, Fort Collins, Colo, president; Jerry Black, Oakdale, Calif, president-elect; Harry W. Werner, North Granby, Conn, treasurer; Tom Lenz, Stilwell, Kan, vice president; and Ben Franklin Jr, Miami Lakes, Fla, immediate past president.

The four-day gathering of the American Association of Equine Practitioners became the largest convention in the association's 46 years when 5,051 veterinarians, veterinary students, guests and exhibitors came together in San Antonio, Texas. The return to San Antonio was prompted by the enthusiastic reviews that followed the 1993 convention there. More than 85 of the world's leading equine experts discussed the latest advances in horse health, Nov 26-29, 2000. Nutrition, the treatment of lameness, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic received attention and exploration.

New to the convention in 2000 was Horseman's Day, an informational session for horse owners and caregivers. Six speakers discussed topics that included trailer loading, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, and soundness problems in the Western performance horse.

Harold F. Hintz, PhD, of the Department of Animal Sciences at Cornell University delivered the Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture, on recent advances in equine nutrition.

"Several surveys have demonstrated that the equine veterinarian is the primary source of professional nutritional information for horse owners," Dr. Hintz said. The type of horse and owner have a lot to do with how that horse is fed. "The need for the veterinarian to be involved with equine nutrition may depend on the type of client," he said. "It has been suggested that 80 percent or more of the horses in the United States could be considered recreational and that the typical recreational owner may have horses for only five years. Thus, horse owners may not have a great amount of horse experience and could likely need basic help with horse nutrition."

Dr. Hintz quoted Dr. Dean Scoggins of the University of Illinois, who suggests that horse feeding needs to be kept simple. Those simple components consist of fresh air, high-quality forage, trace mineral salt, fresh water, and grain as needed. Dr. Hintz added to this list that the horse must be free of dental and parasite problems for the diet to be effective.

According to a 1998 survey by the USDA's National Animal Health Monitoring System, 79 percent of all equine operations have five or fewer horses. It is not likely that these operations have substantial feed mixing and storage facilities, and therefore, commercial feeds are most often used out of convenience.

"Grass is magic, but hay is dead," Dr. Hintz said, quoting a statement made by Dr. David Pugh of Auburn University in a presentation at the North American Veterinary Conference in 2000. Antioxidant content is lost during drying and storage. Dr. Hintz said that good quality pasture is an excellent basis for a feeding program. Letting a horse graze can reduce the incidence of colic, ulcers, respiratory diseases, and abnormal behaviors. Dr. Hintz reminded the audience, however, that pasture is not the perfect diet. Grazing on lush pasture is the most commonly perceived cause of laminitis, and pasture can be a source of toxins and parasites. Until just recently, pasture research has not received the attention it deserves.

A diet for horses is made up of the ingredients that are readily available. "A principle of equine feeding is there is no one best ration," Dr. Hintz said. "For example, ponies in Iceland are fed fish. Australian horse rations may include lupins, tick beans, rice, or copra (coconut meal). A cross of wheat and rye called triticale and extruded feeds are increasing in popularity in Australia. English horses are more likely to be fed carrots and herbs than are American horses."

Although new deworming compounds have been effective in the control of parasites, colic is still considered the most common cause of death in horses. Today, feeding mistakes and other mismanagement are the number one cause of colic.

The standard for nutrient requirements for horses in the United States is the National Research Council's publication "Nutrient Requirements of the Horse," with its most recent edition published in 1989. A new committee is said to be forming and working on an updated version due out for publication in two to three years.

Dr. Hintz asked his audience of equine experts, caregivers, and producers to think about what changes and additions for the future of equine health should be considered for the new edition.

The annual Dolly Green lecture series, devoted to offering cutting-edge lectures on topics related to the health and welfare of the racehorse, expanded this year to encompass a worldwide collection of lectures on lameness and poor horse performance. Eight scientific papers were presented.

"In keeping with the AAEP's growth globally as well as my international perspective, a number of renowned overseas speakers added a new dimension to the program," said Dr. C. Wayne McIlwraith, program chairman and 2000-2001 AAEP president. Speakers hailed from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as the United States.

Eight veterinary students were selected to receive $2,500 scholarships from the American Livestock Insurance Company and the AAEP. The scholarships are presented annually to fourth-year veterinary students who plan to pursue a career in equine practice. In addition to academic excellence, recipients are evaluated on leadership ability and involvement in activities that benefit the health and welfare of the horse.

"Guidelines for Drug Detection Times—Volume 2" is now available from the AAEP. The guide provides an overview of drug-testing procedures, a discussion of factors affecting detection times, and a chemical profile of the following drugs: albuterol, butorphonol, clenbuterol, flunixin, lidocaine, methocarbomol, methylprednisone, reserpine, salicylic acid, testosterone, and triamcinolone.

The guide was prepared for the AAEP by chemist Richard Sams, PhD, director of the Ohio State University Analytical Toxicology Laboratory.