AAEP's president shares his agenda

Nat White's top goals focus on education, new medical research, ethics, equine welfare and the unwanted horse epidemic
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Jan 01, 2010

Las Vegas — Nat White, DVM, was inducted as the 2010 president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) at the organization's 55th convention Dec. 8. White is the Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

In an interview with DVM Newsmagazine, White shared some of his goals as he supports the AAEP in the upcoming year.

  • Student debt. Salaries for graduating equine veterinarians are a real concern for White because the horse industry will need to continue to attract and keep enough equine veterinarians. "We need to convince practice owners to pay a bit more" to cover the student debt load of new graduates, he says. And that cost will eventually need to be passed on to the horse owner.
  • Life balance. "Veterinary students are concerned about the long hours that are supposedly required in practice," White says. The AAEP will reach out even more to undergraduates in college as well as veterinary students to show a balance between home life and career is possible. "We're reaching out to equine practitioners, often women, who have families and own practices," he says. "They can tell us how they've done it."
  • The unwanted horse. White worries that the U.S. Congress may stop export of unwanted horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, potentially increasing the unwanted horse population here by as much 100,000 annually. "The horse rescue organizations already don't have the capacity to handle the current unwanted population," White says.
  • Equine welfare. The AAEP is seeking to define welfare standards for all types of horses in all types of situations and competitions, White says, pointing to the recent recommendation to end soring of Tennessee Walking Horses as an example. Because research is lacking in equine welfare, White says AAEP will turn to knowledgeable members to develop those standards.
  • New medical research. The AAEP Foundation — which recently released statistics on the medical research needs of the organization's members — will look to equine practitioners to help raise funds for that new research. "We want to entice owners (to pay) for research," White says. The AAEP will produce literature about the Foundation so equine practitioners can share the research goals with colleagues and clients. "Universities just don't have money for equine research, so (funding needs to come from) the industry and the horse owner," he says.