Lest We Forget--Dubai International Equine Symposium 1996

Having just returned from the Dubai International Equine Symposium, and aside from the fact that I'm still having trouble deciding which day it is, I came away from this trip enlightened. While the speakers who presented the 29 different lectures came from either the United States, England, France, or Scotland, there were more than 40 countries represented. Some of these exotic (to me) locales included Jordan, Zimbabwe, Libya, Hungaria, Morocco, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, India, Bahrain, Pakistan, Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Russia, Malaysia, and Kenya.

Then there were the usual delegates you see at many international equine meetings representing countries such as Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, and Japan.

While many of the countries mainly treat horses as sport and recreation animals, there are still people who make their living with work horses, or depend on them as transportation through parts of their countries not yet invaded by civilization. Even in countries with large populations of horses used for recreation and sport, there is still room for new technologies and ideas that can be shared to make the lives of horses better.

That, I think, was what Sheikh Mohammed had in mind when he convened this symposium. Sheikh Mohammed, host of the symposium, is the Crown Prince of Dubai (one of seven member countries of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates). A long-time Thoroughbred owner, he and his three brothers also are deeply involved in racing and endurance Arabians. Sheikh Mohammed is a hands-on horseman who on a daily basis sees the problems that equines face to remain healthy, sound, and productive.

In research, the competition to be the first to discover and publish on a subject often overrides the need to get the information out to the people who treat and own the horses. The world's top private practitioners, while they, too, lecture and publish, are the world's best because they work constantly at their trade. That leaves little time for general conversations. It's not selfishness; it's reality.

At first I thought the hospitality poured out by Sheikh Mohammed was just that. But as the week progressed, observations and conversations with various individuals made it apparent that there was an underlying reason for the long, well-furbished coffee breaks, buffet lunches, and nightly social gatherings. Strangers became acquaintances. Acquaintances became friends. Friends became colleagues.

At the end of the week, it was no longer a question of, "How are you enjoying Dubai?" when two veterinarians met. It was more likely, "We have a big problem with this, what do you do?" or "Our clients can't afford to use that drug, so what do you think is the next best in this situation?" or "Someone said you had dealt with this problem. Tell me about it."

X rays were brought out of luggage during breaks and discussed as if the animal in question wasn't thousands of miles away. Business cards were exchanged at a rate greater than that of currency at the gold souks. Country and political barriers faded gradually until there was left only a community--albeit diverse--of equine specialists representing their horses as best they could and willing to share and learn more.

Now it is time to bring this discussion back to less exotic places and see what this means for horse owners here.

In recent years, there has been an ongoing change in the attitude of horse owners, a positive growth in their understanding of their animals. At the same time, there has been a change in the desire of owners to know more, and that demand drives The Horse to offer reliable equine health information to the hands-on, serious owner.

Horse owners don't feed by the coffee can anymore. They don't forget to worm or check their horse's teeth (or try to do it themselves while creating more problems than solutions). They don't look at their veterinarian as someone to call only when the horse is bleeding.

There is a partnership between horse owners and their horses, and between the owners and their health care professionals. Owners seek out knowledge. They are not satisfied in doing something just because that was how it was always done. That is an incredible leap from past generations of owners.

It should not be embarrassing not to know something, but shame on the owner who doesn't know and refuses to ask. Just as the veterinarians sought out their colleagues in Dubai to question how others cared for certain problems, so must owners seek out information.

Please continue to let us know what problems you are facing so we can make sure we are delivering the information you want and need. The Horse will continue to scour the world to bring you breaking research information and tips from top practitioners in the field, but if a problem in your area, breed, or discipline has not been addressed in these pages, we want to hear from you.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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