A modern-day cowboy

Working on ranches taught AAEP president about horses
Published on February 01, 2011
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Like many young boys growing up when the Lone Ranger was on television, Dr. William A. Moyer said he wanted nothing more than to be a cowboy and carry a gun.

His dream might not have panned out quite the way he had hoped, but Dr. Moyer has made a name for himself in other ways.

The Texas A&M University professor took the reins as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners during the 56th Annual Convention Dec. 4-8 in Baltimore. He received the symbol of the office, the president's pin, before an audience of his colleagues Dec. 7 at the president's luncheon.

Dr. William A. Moyer
Dr. William A. Moyer
An authority on advancements in equine lameness, shoeing, and the treatment of foot disorders, Dr. Moyer is head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. In addition, he serves as director of the Link Equine Research Endowment, a multimillion-dollar endowment to enhance equine research.  

Go West, young man

Dr. Moyer's passion for horses stems from his lifelong admiration for the American cowboy and a desire to live in the Old West. Although he was born and raised in New York, he would make his way to New Mexico every now and then to work on horses and cattle at his uncle's ranch. 
2011 AAEP Executive Committee
The 2011 AAEP Executive Committee: David Foley, executive director;
Drs. Jeffrey T. Berk, treasurer; Ann E. Dwyer, vice president;
William A. Moyer, president; Nathaniel A. White II, immediate past
; and John S. Mitchell, president-elect.

During undergraduate school, he played football and worked on ranches in New Mexico and southern Colorado in the summer. In the midst of this, he applied to veterinary college and was admitted to Colorado State University.

While still working on the ranches, Dr. Moyer learned to shoe the horses, among other things. Even though he was never formally trained in shoeing, he knew he had an interest in it.

"The horse and the mechanics were a real attraction for me, having been an athlete for so long. I had that interest going into vet school," he said. "Depending on the level at which you end up doing things with horses, (you may work with) a lot of them that are professional athletes. Having been one, I think you have a different appreciation of how they work."

He graduated from Colorado State with a DVM degree in 1970 and in 1973 completed a surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

Dr. Moyer then moved on to build his own practice, literally. He helped with carpentry at the clinic in New Chester County, Pa., that he ran with two other practitioners. In 1980 he returned to UPenn for a career in academia and developed an equine sports medicine program there.  

Are you serious?

More than a decade later, another school came calling, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. A department head position had opened up in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery. But at first, Dr. Moyer wasn't convinced he was being recruited.  

"Somehow or another, they asked me to interview. The dean called, and I had no idea who this guy was, and he was talking to my technician who yelled over to me. I could only hear a portion of it because I had three horses, and so I just said, 'Tell them to bring their horse in; I'm busy,'' Dr. Moyer said.

The dean called again and asked why Dr. Moyer didn't return his call. Dr. Moyer said he thought it was a friend playing a prank on him. Fortunately for him, it wasn't, and he got the job in 1993, remaining there ever since.

Dr. Moyer was introduced to the AAEP during veterinary college and joined right after graduation.

A leading organizer of AAEP educational meetings throughout his career, Dr. Moyer served as a director-at-large from 2001-2004. He has been a member of the Educational Programs, Equine Insurance, and Public Policy committees. He's acted as an AAEP liaison representative to the American Farrier's Association and was the chair of an in-depth session on laminitis.

"I can't tell you how many organizations I've been in. I've never seen an organization that even comes close to the heart and passion of this one. It's just an amazing group of people," Dr. Moyer said.

As president of the AAEP, Dr. Moyer anticipates addressing equine welfare issues, planning relevant continuing education opportunities, and recruiting the next generation of equine practitioners.

When he finds the time, Dr. Moyer enjoys riding and hiking the backcountry of Montana, fishing, and hunting. He says he's still not made it as a cowboy, though he's got a pair of boots and hat to fit the part.  

New officers, board members

The 2011 AAEP Executive Committee and new members of the board of directors took office Dec. 7. New members of the board are Drs. Brad R. Jackman, Oakdale, Calif, District VIII; Benjamin M. K. Espy, San Antonio, Southwestern District; Eric S. Peterson, Lexington, Ky., director-at-large; and Emma Read, Calgary, Alberta, Canadian District.

Visit www.aaep.org for more news and information from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.