Your Partner in Horse Health

Articles, forums, and other information from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) have appeared in The Horse magazine for a number of years. I thought that for this Forum I might take the opportunity to let you know a little bit more about our organization--why we exist, what we do, and why we are relevant to you and your horses.

AAEP is a worldwide organization of over 7,000 equine veterinarians. While we're involved in all aspects of the horse industry, from advocacy in Washington, D.C., to industry issues such as equine welfare, our mainstay and the premise for which we were founded in 1955 is education--education for our members and for you, the horse owner. Our mission statement says it best: "To improve the health and welfare of the horse; to further the professional development of our members; and to provide resources and leadership for the benefit of the horse industry." To accomplish that mission, we always have and will continue to provide accurate, timely horse health education to the horse owner.

Because we believe that an educated owner working in partnership with an equine veterinarian provides the best health care for the horse, we created a standing Horse Owner Education Committee in 2000 and committed its resources to developing tools to help bridge the communication gap between AAEP member veterinarians and the horse-owning public. We know that through sound education and improvements in horse health management, horses enjoy a better quality of life, live longer, and experience fewer emergency situations. If emergencies do occur, the prepared owner is better able to effectively manage the situation until a veterinarian arrives.

We have also established an informational web site that can be found at Designed for the horse owner and caregiver, the site offers a comprehensive database of equine health information. The site is interactive and offers horse owners the opportunity to get real answers from veterinary experts on real questions concerning the health of their horse. Each month during "Veterinary Rounds," an equine veterinarian answers owners' questions on a preselected topic such as reproduction, colic, or vaccination programs. All questions submitted are posted with the corresponding answer so that everyone can benefit from the interaction. Through, horse owners can also request the AAEP's electronic newsletter, "AAEP E-News," which is sent twice a month and contains the latest news on research and current health issues. To help keep horse owners abreast of emerging diseases and new treatments, AAEP medical informational brochures are available from any AAEP member veterinarian. The brochures provide concise information on a number of topics ranging from care of the pregnant mare to care of the older horse.

You can probably tell that I'm very excited about our owner education initiatives because I know that they ultimately improve the health and welfare of our horses.

Each year at our annual convention, we provide the latest in state-of-the-art medical education to our members in our effort to continually raise the standard in horse health care. That information is passed along by practicing veterinarians one-on-one to horse owners, as well as at the annual Horseman's Day Symposium held each year in conjunction with the AAEP convention. The symposium is aimed at educating owners, trainers, and others in the horse industry on preventive medicine, reducing injuries, responsible training, and the humane care and treatment of horses.

For nearly 50 years, members of the AAEP have been treating horses with caring hands and state-of-the-art technology. The bond with horse owners and their education have become integral parts of our mission. We will continue to raise the level of veterinary care, as well as strengthen the partnership that exists between the owner, the veterinarian, and the horse.

About the Author

Tom Lenz, DVM, Dipl. ACT

Tom Lenz, DVM, Dipl. ACT, is chairman of the Unwanted Horse Coalition, an organization dedicated to reducing the number of unwanted horses and to improving their welfare through education and the efforts of organizations committed to the health, safety, and responsible care and disposition of these horses. Lenz was the 49th president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and he has served on the American Horse Council's Animal Welfare Committee and the Research Committee of the American Quarter Horse Association.

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