We tend to take the existence of our horse veterinarians and the entire veterinary science establishment for granted sometimes. But it wasn’t so long ago that equine-specialist vets were like lone rangers–remember Jame Herriot, visiting horses and cows on the moors? They were out in the country, isolated from their peers, and most worked on cows, goats, sheep and swine as well as horses.
The advent of specialist organizations like the USA’s American Association of Equine Practitoners (AAEP), and Great Britain’s British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) have been relatively recent events that were also signs of their times. Specializing in horses finally became financially viable, even necessary, in some places and the network between practitioners became vital.
The network is now a labyrinth, with ancillary professions, the rise of equine hospitals and referral centers, specialties in surgery, internal medicine and other interests, and a huge equine pharmaceutical industry all woven through the profession. Add a healthy influx of cash from the burgeoning horse industry of the past 50 years and it’s no wonder that the member organizations have grown into sophisticated entities.
The AAEP began in 1954, in the basement of a Louisville, Kentucky hotel, when eleven vets got together and decided to stay together, metaphorically speaking. While the vets were always part of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the British vets were part of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the rise of specialist organizations underlined the validity of equine medicine.
If you’d like to read all about it, BEVA is launching a new book at its BEVA Congress, which opens today in Liverpool, England.? The beautifully designed, full color volume celebrates the Association’s 50th Anniversary and has a forward by HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne). It brings together the entertaining views and experiences of some of the key players within the Association over the past half a century in a very readable collection.
Fifty Years of the British Equine Veterinary Association comprises 17 chapters, each written by an individual who has had a significant role within the organization since its inception back in 1961. Contributions are included from BEVA’s very first secretary, Andi Ewen, and the first female President, Deborah Baker who provides an amusing account of her year in office. Wayne McIlwraith, director of orthopedic research at Colorado State University in the USA gives an overseas perspective on the organization and student representative Nina Rzechorzek explains why she feels that BEVA has such an important role to play in the lives of undergraduates and freshly qualified vets.
The book will be available free of charge to BEVA members, who will see just how far they’ve come, and the growth of their special part of the veterinary profession and of the horse world.