AAEP president found inspiration from other members

Werner included equine, practitioner welfare issues in convention
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Dr. Werner
Dr. Harry W. Werner

I have listened carefully to colleagues over the years and I used that information in selecting the program's subjects and speakers. I asked the speakers to tell members current, practical information, but also to tell them what's coming up next week, so to speak.


The American Association of Equine Practitioners' newest president, Dr. Harry W. Werner, knows he didn't get to where he is today without some help. He credits many of the mentors and colleagues he has encountered throughout his career and his involvement with the AAEP with helping to open doors for him professionally and personally.

Early on in his career, Dr. Werner said, AAEP leaders such as Dr. Charles W. Raker and Dr. J. Clyde Johnson stressed the importance of being active in the organization and encouraged him to volunteer his services. The Connecticut-based equine veterinarian took the men's advice to heart. An AAEP member for 30 years, Dr. Werner has served on a number of AAEP committees, on its board of directors, and as treasurer, vice president, and president-elect.

Dr. Werner, who also is a past president of the Connecticut VMA, owns a general equine medicine and surgery practice located at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in North Granby, Conn. His clinic focuses on equine wellness care, lameness, purchase examinations, and general internal medicine services.

The University of Pennsylvania graduate says his involvement in the AAEP has allowed him to immerse himself in the concerns and needs of the profession. This was made evident in his choice of topics at this year's convention as its program chair. From medication in racing and performance horse industries to equine and practitioner welfare, Dr. Werner said, it was important to focus on issues at the forefront of the profession.

"I have listened carefully to colleagues over the years, and I used that information in selecting the program's subjects and speakers," Dr. Werner said. "I asked the speakers to tell members current, practical information, but also to tell them what's coming up next week, so to speak."

In the long run, Dr. Werner said he hopes to use the AAEP's recently revised strategic plan objectives to guide his presidency. They are growing the profession, equine welfare efforts, and high-quality continuing education. He specifically mentioned the importance of attracting and retaining new AAEP members and encouraging them to become active in the organization. He said that while the AAEP garners the highest number of new graduates as members among species groups, a substantial number leave after their first five years. Dr. Werner cites the need to pay particular attention to equine veterinarians' concerns regarding lifestyle issues, salary, and the present difficult economic climate.

"Practice business models and management must improve to enable veteran practitioners and young associates to thrive and remain in equine practice," Dr. Werner said.

Another area of interest to Dr. Werner are the valuable opportunities technologic and therapeutic advances represent for equine veterinarians. He said, "The challenge to most practitioners is staying abreast of these constantly evolving changes and successfully incorporating them into everyday practice."

Dr. Werner said exciting developments include serum markers, which promise earlier diagnosis of common orthopedic problems; the completion of the equine genome, which will impact diagnostics; advances in management and breeding; plus valuable new research on exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage and laminitis.

"(EIPH) is a big, big problem in racing, and over the years, out of interest in helping, it has led to the use of pharmaceuticals in attempting to mitigate the problem. That means it creeps into the regulatory sector of racing. On one hand, we have this problem, versus our obligation to have athletes running with minimal medication," Dr. Werner said.

As part of its mission, the AAEP will continue to address the unique challenges facing racetrack practitioners and advocate for equine welfare in issues that include unwanted horses.

More immediately, however, Dr. Werner will help navigate the AAEP through all these issues during a tumultuous time with the economy.

"Our members working in Thoroughbred sales say sales are down. They tend to be bought with discretionary income, just like boats," Dr. Werner said. "At the same time, I'm quite confident it (the economy) will head upwards ... It's a question of waiting and for how long."

Other officers and board members

Joining Dr. Werner on the AAEP Executive Committee are Drs. Nathaniel White II, Leesburg, Va., president-elect; William Moyer, College Station, Texas, vice president; Eleanor M. Green, Gainesville, Fla., immediate past president; and Jeffrey T. Berk, Ocala, Fla., treasurer.

New members of the board of directors are Drs. Peter C. Bousum, Ringoes, N.J., representing District I; B.A. Rucker, Lebanon, Va., representing District II; Scott A. Hay, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., representing District III; Debra C. Sellon, Pullman, Wash., representing District IX; Carol K. Clark, Belleview, Fla., director at large; and Desmond P. Leadon, Naas, County Kildare, Ireland, international director.

Visit www.aaep.org for equine news and events