Reproduction Education

The Ninth International Symposium on Equine Reproduction was held this past summer at Kerkrade, Netherlands, and it maintained its sound reputation for presenting original and applicable research. From its origin at Cambridge in 1974 until now, this meeting has been a model of consistent quality and a platform for the best minds in the world of equine reproductive investigation to gather every four years to exchange ideas and results and maintain contact with colleagues.

John P. Hughes, DVM, was certainly the most noted AAEP member to work in the field of equine reproduction. He, along with Peter Rossdale, OBE, MA, PhD, Dr. (hc) Berne, Dr. (hc) Edinburgh, FACVSc, DESM, FRCVS, W.R. "Twink" Allen, BVSc, PhD, ScD, DESM, MRCVS, and others, founded the Symposium.

Following that inaugural meeting in Cambridge, Hughes lined up sponsorship and made plans for the second symposium to be held four years later, in 1978, on the campus of the University of California, Davis. That was a grand second step and set the tone for all the Symposia to follow. All have adapted the local tone of the host country to the gatherings.

The list of locations would be appropriate for most travel agencies: Sydney, Australia, in 1982; Calgary, Alberta, in 1986; Deauville, France in 1990; Caxambu, Brazil, in 1994; Pretoria, South Africa, in 1998; Fort Collins, Colo., in 2002, and Kerkrade this summer. The 1998 Symposium was marked by one very dark announcement--the obituary of Hughes.

While the list of glamorous locations might suggest fun and relaxation, the real goals of this group were always "graduate student development." Travel grants, budget housing, and joint activities all combined to allow developing minds to blossom in the environment of science. And, to fund this objective, many hours of student and professorial time are devoted to "the cause."

Recording the progress in Equine Theriogenology has been an evolving mission of the group since its beginning. Initially all presentations were subject to a referee process by colleagues, similar to that required for all scholarly journals. The early days demonstrated that this was too cumbersome for the purpose intended. Proceedings now are a collection of abstracts, submitted by presenters in advance of the meeting and published by meeting time. Possibly not the meat that most scientists strive for, but it's truly aimed at the developing minds involved.

A few randomly selected titles from the Kerkrade proceedings follow:

"Blastocyst production from equine oocytes fertilized by intracytoplasmic injection of lyophilized sperm" was presented by investigators from Texas A&M University. Lyophilized (freeze-dried) sperm can be stored frozen in much smaller spaces than whole frozen semen.

"Xenografting to study testis functions in Stallions" was presented by investigators at New Bolton Center, Pa., and the University of Saskatchewan. A novel approach was used for studying spermatogenesis in an environment separate from the testes.

"Persistent endometrial cups" was presented by investigators from a group practice in Kentucky, the University of Kentucky, and Cornell University (see page 29 for their findings). This study took advantage of the results of the mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS) abortion storm of 2001 to study this complex problem.

In retrospect, the International Symposia on Equine Reproduction have made a significant mark on both veterinary medicine and animal science in the few years of their existence. The users of this information--both researchers and practitioners--are in debt to those founders who anticipated the growth in knowledge of these scientific concepts experienced in the past 30-plus years.

AAEP members should feel a sense of accomplishment when they consider the many members who now work with equine reproduction problems.

We need to remember the contributions of leaders such as Hughes, Rossdale, and other giants of the horse world!

About the Author

A.C. Asbury, DVM

A. C. (Woody) Asbury received his DVM from Michigan State University in 1956, then spent 21 years in California in breeding farm practice and at UC Davis. He joined the faculty at the University of Florida in 1977 and was involved in teaching, research, and administration until 1996. An Emeritus Professor at Florida, he lives in Kentucky, where he and his wife are developing a small farm.

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