AAEP Convention Topics Preview: Lameness/Injury

The latest information on scores of topics is presented at the AAEP convention; we can't report on them all, but we do try to bring you a representative sampling. This year, many of the topics can be grouped into five categories: fighting infection, reproduction, lameness/ injury, medicine, and predicting performance. In-depth coverage following the convention will be in our AAEP Wrap-Up (mailing with the February 2002 issue) and online at www.thehorse.com/aaep2001 after Nov. 24.

Team Roping Horse Injuries

Not so long ago, rodeo was mostly an event peculiar to the West and Southwest. However, rodeo events, especially team roping, have become incredibly popular throughout the United States (and the world), with U.S. team roping competitors estimated at nearly one million participants.

What this means to Richard H. Galley, DVM, of Willow Park, Texas, is that veterinarians across the country are now seeing team roping horses as patients, and many veterinarians aren't very familiar with the competition. Galley will present "Injuries of the Team Roping Horse" on Nov. 25 during the In-depth session on Lameness in the Western Performance Horse.

It's quite common for a veterinarian on the East Coast, for example, to have a practice focused on hunter-jumpers or eventers and to have never seen a roping horse. "The terminology is so foreign to many practitioners that we're trying to give them an idea for what to look for," he says.

"A very high percentage of team roping horses incur hock problems, but they're seldom realized as physical problems right away," he comments. "They're often seen as a training problem initially. With
this presentation, we also want to make
veterinarians aware of the early signs."

Not only will Galley discuss common injuries of roping horses, but he also plans to show ultra slow motion video to familiarize practitioners with the stresses and movements in the roping game. "There are always hock problems in any athletic discipline, but lots of header horses (that are ridden to rope the horns or head of the steer) have problems with the right front leg from 'setting' the steer," he explains. "Heeling horses (that are ridden to rope the hind legs) can have soreness in both front legs from stopping and taking the jerk."

Since team roping's popularity is escalating, so are the prices of good roping horses and thus the vet bills owners are willing to pay to keep the horses sound. Galley's talk during the convention is designed to educate practitioners to help them better serve team roping horses' health and soundness needs.

Current Concepts in Osteoarthritis

Our horses willingly jump obstacles, slide, spin, half-pass, and turn on a dime--feats that their bodies weren't made to do over and over. Therefore it's no wonder that even the best cared-for horses might eventually end up with degenerative joint problems after years of work and competition. Science is finding new ways to prevent, detect, and treat these ailments. Part of the convention's scientific program will be devoted to "Current Concepts in Equine Osteoarthritis" on Nov. 27. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ECVS, of Colorado State University (CSU) and current president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) will moderate.

Osteoarthritis is characterized by permanent, progressive loss of articular cartilage in joints. "There are a lot of different
conditions that can lead to that," says McIlwraith. "The seminar is going to cover the various things that cause osteoarthritis, means of diagnosing it early, prevention, and methods of treating those problems, both current and new. And we'll discuss once your horse has it, what you can do about it.

"Jerry Black (DVM, president-elect of the AAEP) asked me if I would put on an in-depth seminar on osteoarthritis in the horse," says McIlwraith. "So what I've done is put together those whom I consider to be the best people to present this information."

The 10 sessions will begin with McIlwraith's discussion of disease processes of soft tissue and how they contribute to osteochondrosis. Christopher Kawcak, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, also of CSU, will discuss the role of subchondral bone in osteoarthritis and imaging techniques (both current and future) used for diagnosis. McIlwraith will present the newest developments in synovial fluid and serum markers as diagnostic tools. McIlwraith, Kawcak, and CSU's David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, MS, Dipl. ACVS, will explain widely accepted and novel treatment methods. Finally, Alan Nixon, BVSc, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of Cornell University, will speak on new horizons in articular cartilage healing.

"Some of the more exciting parts are that we have new information on what the bad enzymes are that lead to osteoarthritis," says McIlwraith. "Also, there is new information on diagnosis with markers, gene therapy as treatment, and metalloproteinase inhibitors as therapy."

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