AAEP 2011: New President, Officers Inducted

Florida racetrack practitioner John Mitchell, DVM, began his service as the president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) during the association's 2011 Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Mitchell was sworn in as president during the Nov. 21 President's Luncheon.

Through many years of steadfast service and leadership, Mitchell has provided the AAEP with valuable insight into racehorse welfare, veterinary ethics, and practice management. Since 1975, Mitchell has worked as a racetrack and pleasure horse practitioner in Boca Raton. His focus has been the care of Standardbred racehorses at Pompano Park Racetrack.

Mitchell attended The Ohio State University where he received his veterinary degree in 1972. He completed an equine internship at Auburn University in Alabama in 1973.

In 1975, Mitchell established a racetrack and pleasure horse practice, Equine Associates, in Boca Raton. After 10 years of operating the practice with the help of his wife Lynne and three associates, Mitchell decided to downsize and concentrate predominantly on Standardbred care at the racetrack. He retired from practice in 1994 to spend time with his wife Lynne, who passed away due to complications with multiple sclerosis in 2004. He returned to practice part time at Pompano Park in 2004.

Throughout his career, Mitchell has worked with clients to weigh the economic value of veterinary treatment options. He is passionate about personal finance, and has written articles and presented on the topic of financial planning for veterinarians at national meetings. He mentored many young practitioners at the racetrack on the topic of preparing for a secure financial future.

An active AAEP member since 1972, Mitchell has served on the Educational Programs, Racing, Practice Management, and Foundation Advisory committees. He held the office of AAEP treasurer from 2002-2005, and has been instrumental in the development of programs for the annual AAEP Practice Management Seminar, a meeting he chaired in 2002.

Now retired from veterinary practice, Mitchell enjoys spending time fishing on his boat. More frequently he is traveling with his wife Melodie, whom he wed in 2008. He has two sons, Kyle and Todd, as well as a grandson James.

Also inducted at the Presidents Luncheon were:

Jeff Blea, DVM--Vice President--Blea brings a wealth of insight into the ethical and policy issues affecting racetrack veterinarians to the AAEP Executive Committee. For the past 17 years, he has served as a partner at Von Bluecher, Blea, and Hunkin Inc., a five-member California-based practice that serves the Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, and Pomona racetracks. Blea concentrates his practice on musculoskeletal issues affecting racehorses and lameness diagnostics.

After a short-lived career as a jockey, Blea decided to devote his career to the health of horses. He graduated from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine with his veterinary degree in 1993. He worked as an associate in New Mexico before joining Von Blucher, Blea, and Hunkin in 1994.

Blea served on the board of directors as director-at-large from 2003 to 2005. He has held seats on the Student Relations, Equine Welfare, Racing, and Public Policy committees as well as numerous task forces. He provides veterinary expertise during live televised racing events as an official AAEP On Call spokesperson. He is the director of the Dolly Green Research Foundation and a former member of the Grayson Jockey Club Research Advisory Committee. In 2011, he will finish his term as president of the Southern California Equine Foundation, a non-profit organization that manages three equine hospitals at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar racetracks.

When he's not practicing, Blea most enjoys spending time with his wife Annie, who is also a veterinarian, and their daughters Faith and Abby. As a family, they cherish trips to Jackson Hole, Wyo., Blea's other passions include fly fishing, western art and, of course, horse racing.

Karen Nyrop, DVM--Director-At-Large--Canadian-based performance horse practitioner Nyrop's term will end in 2014.

Nyrop specializes in English performance horse care with a focus on lameness, prepurchase exams, and exercise physiology. She graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981 and completed a large animal residency in surgery at Kansas State University in 1984. She practiced at a referral hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz., before establishing her own practice. She joined Equine Services, Ltd., of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in 2001.

In addition to facilitating performance horse table topics and task forces, Nyrop has served as a member of the AAEP's Educational Programs and Student Relations committees. She is a current member of the Foundation Advisory Committee.

Nyrop feels fortunate to have been part of the volunteer veterinary staff for eventing competitors in the 1996 Olympic Games, the 2010 FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games, and numerous Rolex Kentucky Three-Day events. She is a current member of the United States Eventing Association's Equine Welfare and Research Committees and the United States Equestrian Federation's Veterinary Committee.

When she's not practicing, Nyrop enjoys riding in eventing competitions. She also takes pack trips through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and Montana.

James Morehead, DVM--Treasurer-- Kentucky Thoroughbred practitioner Morehead was sworn in to serve as a member of the Executive Committee, and his three-year term will expire in 2014.

As the owner of Equine Medical Associates, PSC, in Lexington, Morehead brings to the Executive Committee a wealth of expertise in the fields of equine reproduction, ethics, welfare, and veterinary practice management.

After receiving his veterinary degree from the University of Missouri in 1983, Morehead joined Equine Medical Associates, Inc., in Edmond, Okla. In 1986, he relocated to Lexington to work with Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. He established his own practice in 1991. He has held the position of resident veterinarian for the prestigious Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky. He has served as the 2004 president of the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners and is currently a member of the Species Working Group for the American Horse Council.

Since joining the AAEP in 1984, Morehead has served on the AAEP's Reproduction, Infectious Disease and Professional Conduct and Ethics committees. He was elected to serve as the District IV representative on the board of directors from 2006 to 2010. He was a member of the Purchase Exam Guidelines Task Force and chaired the Drug Compounding Task Force. In addition, he has written numerous articles about veterinary ethics for AAEP News.

Morehead believes that veterinarians are responsible for taking the lead on today's equine welfare issues, including horse slaughter and the unwanted horse population. He also will prioritize educating future generations of equine veterinarians during his term on the Executive Committee. He also is interested in helping practitioners work through the hurdles of a depressed economy by using smart practice management tactics.

Morehead has been married for 27 years to wife Michelle, who he met in Columbia, Mo. They have two children, Mallory, 22, and Matthew, 18. Michelle enjoys showing dressage and when he's not practicing, Morehead's passions include hunting and fishing.

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