Veterinary Students Learn About Equine Practice

A total of 527 third-year veterinary students from 34 schools across the country attended the Opportunities in Equine Practice Seminar (OEPS) 2007 over Labor Day weekend. The seminar offered all-expenses-paid trips to Lexington, Ky., to learn more about being an equine veterinarian, visit horse farms, and tour vet clinics and Keeneland racetrack.

The seminar was the brainchild of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital co-founder Bill Rood, DVM. All attendees must be members of their school's student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

Equine Center

Members of the University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine AAEP Student Chapter at OEPS.

Twenty-two members of the 102-member University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine AAEP Student Chapter attended OEPS this year. Nutrena equine nutrition company, which is active in the chapter and gives members a handbook on nutrition, sponsored matching polo shirts for the chapter's students.

Shannon Melliere, president of the chapter, said there is a wide range of interests of the students, from those who know a lot about horses to others who are new to horses. Students come to OEPS for the lectures, tours, and opportunities to talk to representatives of equine practices across the country for possible externships. Dr. Allison Stewart is the Illinois chapter advisor.

Among things the Illinois AAEP Student Chapter does to encourage other students to enter the equine field is a resident equine program to learn the basics of horse handling. "Some members have never touched a horse before," said Melliere. "This seminar whets your appetite and gets you caught up in the passion of the horse industry."

The chapter also has an ICU colic team, for which student volunteers sign up to be on-call for emergency colic cases. The chapter also has seminars and wet labs on topics such as acupuncture and joint injections. They have set up a video resource library from various breeds and disciplines to allow members to become more familiar with a wide variety of horse breeds and activities.

This year the chapter sponsored their first horseman's clinic, with 200 area horse owners went to the vet school and met the faculty and students and saw the facilities.

Deke Carls, who is the Illinois chapter's fundraising co-chair, said the OEPS is a great chance to see the options available "out there. I grew up in all small animals practices," he said. "This allows me to make some connections."

Private equine practitioners, professional organizations, and industry sponsors for at OEPS try to provide the future equine practitioner with an introductory view of all aspects of equine practice, from the large animal hospital setting to the independent practitioner, at nominal or no expense to the student.

Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital acts as the organizing host for OEPS, which provides hotel accommodations, meals, and travel reimbursements for up to 15 students per school. AAEP Student Chapters can register additional students at their own expense for hotel and travel. Non-funded students are eligible for all meals, tours, and lectures.

Platinum Performance was a first-time sponsor at the OEPS this year, and company president Mark Herthel said his company is there because they "really believe in educating students in preventative therapeutics and sports nutrition."

Not only does Platinum Performance like working with students, Herthel said many of the veterinary practices represented at the seminar are also clients of the company. "This is a class event," said Herthel. "We're looking to the long term (by educating veterinary students). Being a family business, this is the future of veterinary medicine."

Following are the veterinary schools represented and number of attendees from that school:

  • Atlantic Veterinary College, 17;
  • Auburn University, 14;
  • University of California, Davis, 15;
  • Colorado State, 31;
  • Cornell University, 17;
  • University of Florida, 8;
  • University of Georgia, 14;
  • University of Illinois, 21;
  • Iowa State 31;
  • Kansas State, 18;
  • Louisiana State, 9;
  • Michigan State, 16;
  • University of Minnesota, 13;
  • Mississippi State, 9;
  • University of Missouri, 13;
  • University of Montreal, 15;
  • North Carolina State, 11;
  • Ohio State, 10;
  • Oklahoma State, 17;
  • Ontario Vet College, 14;
  • Oregon State, 12;
  • University of Pennsylvania, 18;
  • Purdue University, 11;
  • Ross University, 15;
  • St. George's University, 12;
  • University of Tennessee, 14;
  • Texas A&M, 27;
  • Tufts University, 10;
  • University of Tuskegee, 4;
  • Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, 17;
  • Washington State, 15;
  • Western College of Veterinary Medicine, 25;
  • Western University of Health Sciences, 19;
  • University of Wisconsin, 15.

Veterinary practices represented (many of which set up booths) at OEPS were:

  • Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, Los Olivos, Calif.;
  • Anoka Equine Veterinary Services, Elk River, Minn.;
  • Blue Ridge Equine Clinic, Free Union, Va.;
  • Blue Water Equine Hospital, Emmett, Miss.;
  • Chino Valley Equine Hospital, Chino Hills, Calif.;
  • The Equine Clinic at Oakencroft, Ravena N.Y.;
  • Equine Medical Center of Ocala, Ocala Fla.;
  • Equine Services Surgical Hospital, Simpsonville Ky.;
  • Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery Inc., Weatherford, Texas;
  • Fairfield Equine Associates, Newtown, Conn.;
  • Ferguson, Hammock & BonenClark Equine Hospital; Ocala, Fla.;
  • Florida Equine Veterinary Services, Clermont, Fla.;
  • B.W. Furlong & Associates; Oldwick, N.J.;
  • Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Lexington, Ky.;
  • Humphrey, Giacopuzzi Equine Hospital, Somis, Calif.;
  • Idaho Equine Hospital, Nampa, Idaho;
  • Littleton Large Animal Clinic, Littleton, Colo.;
  • Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, Ringoes, N.J.;
  • Monocacy Equine Veterinary Associates, Beallsville, Md.;
  • Moore and  Co. Veterinary Services, Balzac, Alberta, Canada;
  • New England Equine Medical & Surgical Center, Dover, N.H.;
  • Oakridge Equine Hospital, Edmond, Okla.;
  • Ocala Equine Hospital, Ocala;
  • Pacific Crest Equine, Exeter ,Calif.;
  • Palm Beach Equine Clinic, Wellington, Fla.;
  • Performance Equine Associates, Whitesboro, Texas;
  • Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital, Ocala;
  • Pioneer Equine Hospital, Oakdale, Calif.;
  • Piedmont Equine Practice, Marshall, Va.;
  • Rhinebeck Equine, Rhinebeck, N.Y.;
  • Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Lexington;
  • San Luis Rey Equine Hospital, Bonsall, Calif.;
  • South Valley Large Animal Clinic, South Jordan, Utah;
  • Steinbeck Country Equine Clinic, Salinas, Calif.;
  • Surgi-Care Center for Horses, Brandon, Fla.;
  • Tennessee Equine Hospital, Thompson's Station, Tenn.;
  • Valley Equine Associates, Ranon, W.Va.;
  • Weatherford Equine Medical Center, Weatherford;
  • Wisconsin Equine Clinic & Hospital, Oconomowoc, Wisc.;
  • Woodford Equine Hospital, Versailles ,Ky.;
  • Woodside Equine Clinic, Ashland, Va.

Robin Murray, who handles public relations at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, said the practice exhibits portion of OEPS in 2005 had 15 participants. In 2006 that number increased to 27. This year there were 41. "I believe this year's number of exhibits proves that OEPS is making a difference for the practitioner," said Murray. "I've had numerous practices tell me that OEPS has increased their extern visits and interest in their internship programs."

Sponsors and supporters for OEPS can be found at

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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