2008 AAEP convention attendance running behind last year's record

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Dec 09, 2008
San Diego -- Attendance at the 54th annual convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) appears to be falling short of last year's record turnout but is still relatively on par with previous years, based on a preliminary count Dec. 8.

Paid registrations as of Dec. 8, the third day of the five-day event, totaled 3,075 veterinarians, veterinary students, technicians and paid guests -- a number expected to rise to between 3,100 and 3,200 when later registrations are tallied. Those figures do not include the large number of exhibitors that will be added later to form the final attendance total.

Last year's attendance in Orlando reached a record 7,238, including 3,639 veterinarians, students, technicians, guests and exhibitors.

Addressing the current economic downturn, keynote speaker Dr. Lowell Catlett gave attendees some reasons for optimism in the Dec. 7 opening session, telling them, "read the news and stay informed, but also read history" showing that hard times do run their course. An economics professor who is dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University, Catlett reminded members of an adage he learned from his father: "People always afford what they want," which for many people includes horses and other animals, he said.

The opening program Dec. 7 also featured remarks by Harry W. Werner, VMD, 2008 president-elect and program chairman; and Eleanor M. Green, DVM, who is completing her year as 2008 president, the AAEP's first female president.

Drawing two of the largest audiences on Dec. 8 were the Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture, "Neurology is not a euphemism for necropsy: A review of selected neurological diseases affecting horses," delivered by Stephen M. Reed, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM; and a panel and audience-interactive discussion on "Medication: Past, present and future in racing and performance horses," covering current medication, testing and penalty issues, past practices contributing to some current problems and a look at where the equine industry may be heading in these areas.

Several sessions directed attention to the growing problem of unwanted, abused and neglected horses throughout the United States.