Class Acts: Horse Health Educational Opportunities for Horse Owners

Vet students in a university anatomy lecture at Iowa State University in 1942, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

When the calendar turns to September, it’s time to start planning for fall horse events. Maybe your schedule includes the Alltech National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky, or the Washington International Horse Show. Racing fans will be headed to California for the Breeders Cup. Eventing has Fair Hill coming up in Maryland, and dressage fans would all like to be in Gladstone, New Jersey for the USEF Festival of Champions.

But there’s another “show circuit” going on in the fall, and this is an especially good year for horse health events that will offer educational seminars with many of the world’s leading authorities on diseases, horse care, lameness and research.


If you imagine a horse health event is akin to sitting in a lecture hall like those Iowa State student vets back in the 1940s, think again. Innovation is in the air, and horse health events are paving the way to make learning exciting and fun.

If you haven’t been to a horse health event lately, you’ll be very surprised to see how they have changed. If you’re imagining a boring lecture about vaccinations and worming in a crowded classroom, you’re in for a surprise. At various events, you’ll find hands-on training, trade shows, product demonstrations, painted horse anatomy, fitness information and networking opportunities.


The future holds lots of promise for web tie-ins to horses off site and live broadcasts to virtual attendees at home or in university classrooms around the world.


Starting at the top of this mountain of information will be the largest of them all, the convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. It will be held in Nashville, Tennessee from December 7-11. Plan your vet appointments accordingly; chances are, vets at your local vet practice are drawing straws right now to see who will have to stay home while others head to Nashville.

A highlight of this year’s convention will be world-renowned British equine orthopaedics specialist Dr. Sue Dyson’s delivery of the Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture, “Equine Lameness: Clinical Judgment Meets Advanced Diagnostic Imaging.”

It’s true that the AAEP Convention is the largest horse health event in the world. Nothing compares to it. But that hasn’t stopped a new breed of educational opportunities ?from being offered, particularly for those who are pursuing a specific aspect of horse health.

Circle Oak Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center in Petaluma, California will host its 3rd Horse Health Fair on October 5. Circle Oak is an industry leader in helping horses with musculoskeletal injuries and the program this year offers a roster of FEI veterinarians, wet labs, and “live” horse activities.


Donkeys need horse health seminars, too, and a major one is planned for them November 1-3 at the University of California at Davis. The Donkey Welfare Symposium will be covering a long-ears list of health issues and topics related to donkeys, including dentistry and hoofcare. The symposium will be available via the web, as well.

Horse health events aren’t just specific to breeds or types of equids; this fall will see two conferences specifically on laminitis. On September 20, the west coast will be treated to the bi-annual No Laminitis Conference in Jackson, Oregon, featuring veterinarians Eleanor Kellon and Robert Bowker, with a roster of interesting supporting speakers. This excellent conference focuses on the four tenets of Dr. Kellon’s “DDTE” approach to managing the most common form of laminitis, the endocrinopathic form related to insulin resistance.


On her ECIR web group, Kellon recommends that horse owners pursue the proper “Diagnosis, Diet, (Hoof) Trim and Exercise” to help insulin-resistant horses avoid recurring laminitis. Kellon continues to push the boundaries of endocrine research with her cutting-edge work and insights to the effects of nutrition and supplements. Bowker is a leading researcher in hoof anatomy and morphology.


On the opposite coast, laminitis will draw researchers, clinicians and hoofcare professionals from all over the world to West Palm Beach, Florida November 1-3 for the International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot. You can learn from 60 different speakers and abstract presenters from five continents, and create your own individual menu of lectures that combines research, clinical management and foot science lectures presented simultaneously in three lecture halls.

A special feature of the Laminitis Conference will be an innovative and supportive half-day event just for horse owners to learn from leading veterinarians who will cover the entire gamut of preventing, recognizing and treating laminitis.

You can get on an airplane and be part of any of these wonderful events, find ways to participate via social media or web casts, and order proceedings books after the events are over. But you might also find some excellent programs being planned for your local area by horse groups and vet clinics. And if there isn’t one planned, why don’t you start one?




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