Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Coming Storm? Horse Genetics and You

The date is significant – 6th of May 2016, this may be the date that horse racing changed, the date equine sports medicine changed, the date that we all changed a little.  What happened? The announcement by Hugo Palmer of his decision to withdraw 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold from the Epsom Derby was informed by the results of a genetic test.
Of course the marketing people for the test were pretty happy –
“It is not the first time that a key decision to race a horse in the Derby has been made based on a combination of traditional methods and our genetic tools.”

“Hugo has a clear understanding of how to combine the scientific information with his deep knowledge and understanding of the horse to ensure it is given the optimal opportunity to perform at its best.”

“We firmly believe that equine genetics will enhance the Thoroughbred breed by allowing owners and trainers to understand more about how to get the absolute best out of each individual horse for both racing and breeding.” 
Whichever way you look at it, such tests are here to stay.
The modern Thoroughbred can be traced back some 300 years to the arrival, in England, of 3 stallions in the 17th and 18th centuries, providing the paternal genetic basis for the entire breed.  The natural athleticism has been selected for, and enhanced by breeders ever since, aided by management, nutritional and environmental influences, producing the modern equine athlete.  Whilst calculated environmental influences play a large role (up to 65%) on a horses’ development, a significant proportion then lies in athletic inheritance.  It is however, both damning and interesting to note that winning times in the Classic Thoroughbred races, have improved little in over 100 years.
The successful mapping of the horse genome in 2007 has provided a tool for evidencing apparently desirable traits such as speed and muscle development along with detrimental genes (Webbon 2012).
 Equine Genetics Table
The commercial applications are already evident in some breeds and breed societies such as Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome in Fell and Dale Ponies, in Lavender Foal Syndrome and Combined Immunodeficiency in Arabs and perhaps most significantly, due to potential numbers involved, in Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy in a variety of sports horses.  The genetic tool then would have a potential influence upon carrier identification influencing breeding &/or upon the long term environmental impact, husbandry, diet and training schedules that may occur in for example, carriers of PSSM genes. As a result, we can only hope to improve their direct welfare and reduce the potential for severe cases of homozygous matings.
This is extremely encouraging and the additional use of SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) has allowed mapping of single base variations between DNA sequences and ultimately identification of sequences within “phylogentically superior” horses that may be used as markers for their “superiority”.  Most notably this has identified myostatin (MSTN) as a genetic marker and provides the thrust of commercial interest due to performance implications and was the basis for Galileo Gold’s withdrawal. 
As highlighted, despite years of “trained eyes” looking over horses and selecting the best apparent traits, winning times in the Classic Thoroughbred races, have improved little.  Why this is, is hard to say other than be flippant in the skill of the apparent “trained eye”.  Of significance is the use of such genetic tests to influence the breeding program.  Using the gene test to inform stallion selection (selecting for sprinters with homogeneous MSTN foals known as C:C) for each mare, one breeder decreased his proportion of T:T foals (those best suited to longer distances) produced from 18.0% to 6.8% in 1 year (2011), decreasing it further to 4.3% in 2 years (2012). Notably, of the 30 male foals produced in 2012, none had a T:T genotype.  This speed of change is incredibly rapid when compared to simple “eye-ball” or “self-selection” breeding.
The question is are we promoting natural selection or genetic engineering and what does this mean?  How will it impact on horse numbers and their treatment (especially if their “genetic blue print” is not deemed advantageous), on the acceptance of blood screening at sales for example, or in the doomsday scenario on future loss of heterogencity within the Thoroughbred breed especially, leading to more potential cases of “selected” diseases such as laryngeal hemiplegia.
Irrespective, the opportunity to breed horses with greater muscle mass will appeal with the opinion that if “we” provide the apparent best horse, the rest is up to you.  This will influence practical breeding with breeders attempting to optimize progeny to a specific genotype, to breeders with foundation mares and stallions utilising genetic profiles to financial advantage, and importantly to trainers and owners in influencing sales decisions, veterinary pre-purchase examination protocols, as well as then reducing operational costs by introducing tailored exercise programmes for individual horses.
However, a genetic “result” does not make a phylum.  Heritability is variable and highlights that individual differences may be attributable to genetic differences.  This provided me with the dismay I felt as I heard Mr Palmers’ decision.  The heritability variation makes environmental factors very important and emphasizes that the presence of a specific gene or variant, with its proposed advantages, is specific to a particular population in a specific environment and emphasizes the continuing need for appropriate veterinary advice on training, environmental and disease modification aspects.
Interestingly, the heritability of complex diseases are or have also been elucidated:
• Rhabdomyolysis 0.43
• Laryngeal hemiplegia 0.23 – 0.61
• Osteochondrosis 0.24 – 0.52
• Recurrent Airway Obstruction 0.30
• Behavioural traits 0.23 – 0.28
• Conformational traits 0.16 – 1.00
and again these are becoming part of the overall “genetic assessment”, based on a blood sample with increased cost, but should highlight that such conditions do not or are not simply under genetic control and that veterinary advice is still vital.
It is however, not all crazy geneticists and it is quite rightly a principal goal of the Horse Genome Project to benefit the health and welfare of horses and they have many current projects including:
– Athletic performance
– Cervical Stenotic Myelopathy
– Contracted Foal Syndrome
– Congenital abnormalities/infertility
– Fracture and Tendon Injury
– Laminitis
– Lavender Foal
– Osteochondrosis
– Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolysis
– Stereotypic behaviour
I certainly feel that whilst this is at least in its relative infancy we need to ensure that we as vets in the field understand or consider our role in this, as advocates for animals, for correct medical procedure and explanation, and as modulators of expectation not only based on the results of a black and white test.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The ethics of sports medicine and treatment or the challenges in balancing the demands of competition with the duty of care to the equine patient

Firstly perhaps, a couple of quotes; from the magus of them all Hippocrates who opined “science is the father of knowledge but opinion breeds ignorance” and from the esteemed surgeon Sir Wiliam Osler; “it is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of a disease the patient has.”

For fear of appearing flippant, the challenges faced by a vet in balancing competition with patient care lie largely in communication.  This does not mean singularly that the vet dictates to the owner/carer/trainer/jockey but, as in the trial of Mr C versus Broadmoor which, highlighting autonomy, transformed the face of all medical advice; defining that the owner/carer/trainer/jockey must both understand and comprehend any medical information supplied providing “informed” consent.  Unfortunately, vets have somewhat surrendered this and their Aesculapian authority on the bonfire of their own vanities, removal of previous professional boundaries, and upkeep of finances, and have also been pressurised by the equine owning publics’ cessation of understanding of the origins of husbandry (Rollin 2006) where animals, not only horses, were viewed as greater than that of an object to provide pleasure or work.  Indeed Immanuel Kant pointed out that one of the fundamental dictates of moral law is to treat objects of moral concern as ends in themselves, not merely as a means.  This is an extremely valuable and fundamental point and whilst attitudes are changing, as set in a prescient case in 1979 in New York, Corso v. Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital, in which the judge declared that a “pet occupies a place somewhere between a person and a piece of personal property,” it is in this myriad of competing pressures that we work, and this sorrowfully is before we even consider the horse.  In this capacity we become and largely can only be advisors to the competitor.  Whilst acute and traumatic injury (often related to repetitive failure) is comparatively easy to manage and implement treatment, with owners actually observing clinical improvements, it is here perhaps where we have already failed.  Our primary aim should be in preparatory and prophylactic medicine requiring greater input at all stages of the equine athlete’s life. 

            The financial and time pressures placed upon however, a competitor or trainer means that such idealism is rarely met or largely ignored, unless the horse has already achieved at an elite level; even to the level where husbandry levels are insufficient (promoting dental disease and lower airway disease for example), and this is conferred to the treating vet who’s role is to return the animal to pre-injury levels of competition with expediency.  At a recent course I attended, a highly respected Newmarket “racehorse only” vet quoted “our role is not to get the horse better, it is to get the horse back on the track.”  I’m sure he would add several caveats but the implication is inclement and highlighted in Contemporary Issues in Bioethics (Benson and Rollin 2004).  Although the aim is to return the animal “healed” it is very difficult to always provide complete evidence of true healing due to the lack of sensitivity of several routine techniques such as ultrasonography of tendon or ligament tissues and radiography of bone, with emerging techniques such as UTC and higher modality imaging (CT, MRI and to a lesser extent scintigraphy) both providing evidence of true healing and more accurate diagnoses (and hence therapies).  That injuries such as SDFT tears and SI desmitis have a relatively high recurrence rate presently, and that medical issues such as LAD, EIPH and various myopathies and neuropathies still remain as an almost accepted “occupational hazard” of the equine athlete shows just how far we still have to go.

            Despite all this our duty of care remains paramount and is defined not only in our Hippocratic Oath, in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and highlighted, although only with “guidelines” in the Codes of Professional Conduct.  Whilst the aforementioned pressures of finance (from owner and practice ownership), societal distortion of a horse’s role, implications of rest and treatment on short term career results and even on long term career advancement when involved in team sports, impose parameters in which we work and balance care of the individual with achieving competitive status; by careful, sensible and reasonable communication and education of the client, advocacy can be achieved.  The only area of which we cannot balance is that of long-term health of an aged or ageing athlete.  That occupational related disease is expected does little to affirm its acceptance and again the high incidence of for example, metacarpo-phalangeal and sacroiliac osteoarthritis, questions whether our goals are toward short or medium term health stability or to promotion of life long (i.e. 25-30 years) wellness (Dunn et al 2007).

            Practical and specific examples of such dilemmas include the use of various joint therapies in an obviously deteriorating joint to allow continuing competition, in the reluctance to adhere to exercise regime for musculoskeletal exercise programmes to achieve a “faster” return to racing, in the cost implications of non-use of supposedly superior therapies such as stem cell treatment for tendon lesions or of medical treatments for common conditions such as gastric ulceration, in the promotion or “benign ignorance” shown when presented with unethical treatments such as pin firing, through to pressure to vaccinate late due to competition rules.  In each situation our role as the animals advocate in awakening moral awareness is key.

Ben Sturgeon
BEVA Council Member 
BEVA Ethics and Welfare Committee Member

Monday, 8 February 2016


The last weekend in January saw over 200 students travel from the UK, Ireland and Europe to the University of Nottingham’s Sutton Bonnington Campus for the third annual Student Equine Veterinary Association’s symposium. BEVA also joined in the fun, with the weekend incorporated lectures, practicals, a trade show and of course a black tie dinner, all organised by a fantastic team from the Nottingham Equine Veterinary Society.

BEVA were well represented at the event with current President Mark Bowen heading some of the practical sessions along with our Senior Vice President Andrew Harrison; current Junior Vice President Jonathan Pycock giving an engaging talk on Reproduction; while this year’s Congress Chair Gayle Hallowell and Hannah Yeates, a member of BEVA Council, also contributing to the weekend’s CPD programme. 

The BEVA Office exhibited at the trade show, with lots of new members recruited and the EVJ Bookshop enjoying a tremendous weekend of sales. Popular books included the Saunders Equine Formulary and our Joint Injection Guide. If you missed out on purchasing any books (We ended up selling out of everything by Sunday lunchtime!) remember you can order and browse here

BEVA sponsored two sessions throughout the weekend, Richard Hepburn’s Neurology lecture and a talk from Hannah Yeates on Alternative Careers within the Equine Veterinary Industry, with Hannah even slipping in some photos of Madonna into her presentation! Both sessions were very well received, with Richard showing some brilliant videos which should help aid diagnosis for the attendees in the future and Hannah's presentation delivering options that many did not exist!

The event also gave the BEVA team lots of inspiration, with the vodka luge high up on our list of things we NEED at the Annual Dinner for Congress!

We look forward to travelling to Liverpool for next year's SEVA Conference! 

If you have an event you think BEVA may be interested in attending/supporting then please email

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

What benefits do I get by becoming a BEVA Member?

So you have got your BEVA membership but do you really know how many great benefits you have now inherited?! BEVA is continually trying to make our services better for you, so we add further benefits each year as well as reviewing the ones we already have. If you have ideas as to what you would like to see please make sure you contact us -

On offer at present we have:

  • 50% off our wonderful CPD program! Our courses range from regional meetings to core skills workshops, advanced level specialist courses over three days and our popular Clinical Workshops. The BEVA CPD features over 50 courses each year with new additions coming all the time and if you think we are missing something let us know your course suggestions and if yours gets added to our calendar you can come along for free!
  • Discounted entry to BEVA Congress and reciprocal member rates at other conferences worldwide. So as well as soaking up everything BEVA Congress has to offer why not sample AAEP, the London Vet Show or a trip to Australia for EVA Congress at a discounted rate?
  • Unlimited access to Equine Veterinary Journal and Equine Veterinary Education. As well as hardcopies of our world renowned journals each month you have access to the ENTIRE back library of both journals in the BEVA Members Area and EVE/EVJ Apps. A popular addition to this in recent years has been the EVJ/EVE Podcasting series, which are perfect for you to listen to in the car between calls... earning CPD in otherwise wasted time… what more could you want!
  • The BEVA Apps. We have previously been told that it is worth joining BEVA for these alone! The four BEVA Apps (which will be joined by a new addition shortly) presently cover Equine Drugs, ‘How to’ Techniques, Equine Lab and Joint Injections.
  • Our comprehensive webinar library. Still hoping to squeeze in even more CPD? Then make use of our Webinar library on A new webinar is added each month and you also receive a discount to view previous Congress webinars!
  • Discounts at the EVJ Bookshop. Our EVJ Bookshop stocks many titles not available anywhere in the UK as well as some old favourites. With new titles available each year and special promotions make sure you use this brilliant resource!
  • A FREE Legal Helpline. Our 2015 Members Survey revealed Members believed they would benefit from a free legal helpline so in 2015 we launched one! More details here
  • Discounted Private Medical Insurance and Income Protection. BEVA teamed up with PG Mutual in 2014 to offer you these great benefits! Surely essential cover for an equine vet?!
  • Our Membership Offers Page. These is the newest of your benefits and gives you access to hundreds of discounts and offers. Planning a trip to the cinema, a holiday or buying a new car? You can get discounts to all of these here! (log in required to gain access to Members Area)
  • Access to up-to-date information and news. BEVA has a bi-annual hardcopy newsletter, a bi-weekly E-News and of course our Members Area and Practice Portfolio on the BEVA website. All are aimed at keeping you up to date on the latest news and information within your industry.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Wheezes and Whistles

You’ve missed the rhubard and its too early for the Dante but force yourself …

come to York – April 16th 2015.

York Racecourse, the Historical Knavesmire, home to some of the greatest and most unusually named events in British Flat racing, The Musidora, The Dante, The Nunthorpe and of course, The Ebor.

Why is that heavey pony not getting better ? Have I made the right diagnosis?

Should I be advising an overground scope for that point-to-pointer and what should I expect to get from it ?

BEVA moves north for the Spring Workshop, a new look at everyday problems  - respiratory tract disease; second only to orthopaedic problems for compromising performance in all types of horses.

Course organiser, Rachael Conwell, unashamedly, almost managing to set up shop in her back garden, has brought together a mixture of practitioners and leading researchers in the fields of respiratory medicine and surgery. Reviews of current practice, top tips on how to manage tricky cases as well as up to the minute research on what lies around the corner for treating RAO and managing “Roarers”. Edinburgh University’s Dr Scott Pirie will bring us right up to date on airway diseases whilst Professor Richard Piercy from The Royal Veterinary College will lead us through his latest research on Recurrent Laryngeal Neuropathy. Saf Barakzai and Tim Brazil will address making this work in practice.

Make the most of your BEVA membership this Sping, whether it is rhubarb, racing, roarers, John Smith’s or the Vikings…come to York…see you there Thursday 16th April.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The journey of a new veterinary graduate

Josie Faulkner graduated with a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Cambridge University in 2013. She moved to Sydney, Australia to complete a one-year internship in Equine Medicine and Surgery at Randwick Equine Centre and then spent two months working for the practice with a private racehorse client in China. She is currently in Perth, Western Australia working as an associate veterinarian at Valley Equine Veterinary Centre. She writes here about her experiences of the equine job market as a new graduate and gives some insight into some of the options available.

Vet school
It's a good idea to look at job adverts in the summer before your final year. By that stage you will have a vague idea of what sort of job you might want to go into. You definitely do not need to have a job lined up by graduation but having a look around gives you an idea of what type of jobs are out there, and when and where they are advertised. I was not actively looking but I found my first job during a moment of insomnia during the summer before final year. I had downloaded the Vet Record Jobs app and searched for equine jobs in UK and overseas (I really do not like the cold!). A hospital internship in Sydney, Australia was advertised with starts dates for the following year. It sounded like it would be an excellent first job for me, and its location made it even more appealing!

I spent a whole week updating and working on my CV and cover letter. I had not done much with my CV for about three years and it was very out of date. My key tip for your CV is to make it as easy to skim read as possible, while highlighting the important points. It should not be more than two pages long and formatting is important! Start with key personal information and follow that with education. Definitely include anything special or out of the ordinary that you have achieved at university. Any award, merit or distinction in a modular exam and your elective project title will help highlight your strengths and interests. After that have a section on veterinary placements and focus on the most relevant work experience you have done. Highlight placements at well-known hospitals and include any work with farriers etc. and CPD events you may have helped at. Note the skills you gained and what your duties were. Have a section on extra-curricular activities (they do want to see that you have a life!) and other jobs but do not let them take up more than quarter of a page. Finish up with a list of referees. I had three: my director of studies from university and two vets. One was an equine vet who I had done a recent placement with for two weeks and a small animal vet who I had done work experience with from before I started university. I chose them because I thought they would give a good and accurate assessment of my personality and abilities. Cover letters are important too - they should be short but include key points like when you are due to graduate, why you want the job and what you can offer to the practice. Get as many people as you can to check and proofread the documents.

Following submitting this application, and while I was all fired up about jobs, a friend and I decided to make an excel spreadsheet of equine internships. We split the research work and shared our findings. We included location, size, type of work, caseload, number of interns, on call roster and pay just so we could get an idea of what was out there, what we wanted and when applications closed. Since then internships have been promoted far better and the information is much easier to get hold of. It seems that more clinics are offering them as well. Have a look at the BEVA Internship Awareness program webpages for more information.

I was offered the internship position part way through my final year and my friend who did the internship spreadsheet research with me secured an equine hospital internship in Ireland. Although it definitely seems that clinics are more likely to take you on as a new graduate if you have done some work experience there, neither of us had done placements at the places we got jobs so it's worth applying even if you have not been there before. In general, if there is a job advertised that looks like it would suit you, apply! Of course, an internship might not be everyone's cup of tea and you can learn a lot from joining a supportive first opinion practice. Two interns who started work at Randwick Equine Centre (REC) six months after me had graduated at the same time as me. One had worked in mixed practice for six months and one had done some work with an equine charity organisation to fill in the time before starting the internship, and both enjoyed the experience.

Good places to look for new grad equine jobs are Vet Record and of course the BEVA website! Other vet magazines and websites like the Vet Times have extensive advert sections, but not much in the way of equine jobs. Clinics and hospitals also tend to advertise on their own websites so it's worth having a look there too. and are a couple of good sites if you want to have a look to see what's available abroad.

First jobs
I had a lot of paperwork to complete for the visa application and registering to work as a vet in Australia, but luckily did not need to take any additional examinations. I joined the practice in the middle of "yearling season", when all the yearlings are x-rayed prior to the sales and there is a lot of elective arthroscopic surgery. It was quite busy and I had to learn quickly. Setting up the various pieces of diagnostic equipment and getting to grips with billing were my priorities as I wanted to become useful as quickly as possible! After I had that covered I could focus more on helping with workups and gaining skills and increasing my knowledge base.

I was at REC for a year, with monthly rotations in Anaesthesia, Surgery, Hospital (mainly lameness) and Ambulatory (race track, competition horses and pleasure). We also had two weeks where we could go and do a Reproduction placement. Our average hours were 7.30am - 7pm Monday to Friday, with one night on call per week and one weekend in two on call (alternating as primary/secondary). Due to being a predominantly racehorse based clinic (at least 75% thoroughbred work) the caseload included a high proportion of elective arthroscopic surgery and lameness work which was great for getting handy with the x-ray machine, basic ultrasound and nerve and joint blocks. There was not a large number of internal medicine cases and we did not have many out of hours surgical colic cases. The practice were really encouraging of our development and were constantly challenging us. When a senior vet on call received a call out, they would assess the case over the phone and often send us out. While this was daunting, we would always have a brief beforehand, and the senior vet was always available for advice if we needed it.

Cast on a pony with a complete fracture of MT3 which was stablised with locking and dynamic compression plates

The internship was perfect for me as it had a focus on performance and lameness, and allowed me to gain a lot of practical skills. I was able to pick up on good protocols for working up cases and see work done to the highest standard. In addition, what makes internships so valuable is the amount of support and supervision available. The partners and associates were always willing to discuss cases and teach us new procedures. We arranged journal clubs with the specialists on topics of interest. I was also lucky to have worked with three other interns who would struggle along with me on busy days – sometimes at 8pm we were still finishing off the billing and treatment sheets for the next day!

Colic surgery

Towards the end of my internship one of the partners asked me what my plans were for before I started my new job. I said I wanted to go to Fiji to do a neutering clinic and improve my surgical skills (plus a few weeks lying in a hammock and sleeping, obviously). He replied with "I think I have something better". He is the consultant vet to a thoroughbred racing club in China who had imported around 40 thoroughbred racehorses from all over the word the previous year. They needed a vet to help transport the horses from their current training facility in Inner Mongolia down to a track near Shanghai. Following that, the horses would resume training, leading up to a big display race event and the rest of the Chinese racing season. It was a phenomenal opportunity and of course I said yes. It definitely was not easy and really challenged my veterinary abilities. I was working in a completely different environment with limited facilities and a language barrier. Not only that, but I had come from an internship where I was very well supervised, and arrived in China on my own, with no referral options. However I had my boss on the phone for advice if I needed it and it gave me an opportunity to put into practice everything I had learnt over my internship year, and to learn to trust my abilities.

The majority of the work was managing nutrition, lameness problems and respiratory conditions, with the occasional colic and one case of severe colitis with haemorrhagic diarrhoea. I organised the veterinary emergency first aid arrangements for the race day event and completed race day duties with the help of a Chinese vet. I definitely felt more in my comfort zone by the end of the experience, and I made some good friends with the staff there. Actually, the most nerve-wracking part of my journey turned out to be having to repack three overweight suitcases full of vet supplies at the check-in desk at Sydney airport! I made it to the gate halfway through boarding and out of breath.

I had had such a great year at REC and had really grown to like the Australian lifestyle (read: sunshine, swimming and seafood!). Towards the end of my year, I started to search for equine jobs again in Australia.

There is some equine swimming too!

An associate vet at REC had heard from a friend while working at an FEI event that there was a job going in Perth, Western Australia that would be great for me. Another recommended me to apply to another in Cambridge, New Zealand. It seems that contacts really do help! I got in touch with the practice in Perth and chatted to one of the partners, sent my CV and a cover letter, and then arranged to fly across for a visit in a few weeks’ time. At this time there were two other equine jobs advertised in Perth (unusual since it's not a very big place!) which looked like they would also suit a recent graduate, so I applied to them and let them know I would be in the area shortly for a visit. I spent a weekend exploring Perth and following that, three interviews over two days. I was offered two of the three jobs and chose the one which I thought would suit my personality best and provide the best environment for steadily gaining more skills.

I have been working as a first opinion associate vet now for a few months and have settled in well. The internship prepared me well for most of the cases that I see out on the road and in the clinic, and my new work colleagues don't mind at all if I ask questions about difficult cases or ask for help with a procedure. There are some things which I didn't have much exposure to before that I am seeing a lot of now. These include wire and fence post injuries (I am becoming a fan of aggressive debridement) and sand colics (Perth seems to be built on a giant beach).

There is also plenty of wire fencing in Perth!

Plans for the future
I'm very happy working as a first opinion vet. The senior vets here carry out a lot of higher level reproduction, dentistry, field surgery and lameness work which I have been able to get involved with and is great for my learning. I think I would like to do some further study in a few years’ time, perhaps a residency in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation if I can get onto a programme, or alternatively a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice focusing on lameness diagnostics and treatment. I have found that the two main things which I value from a work place are support and the opportunity for continuing development of skills. I think that if I am able to continue working at clinics like that ones I've already been at I will be quite happy!

The first steps into the world of applications, interviews and internships can be daunting but there are networks of support designed to get you through it. The learning curve is steep, but not necessarily as steep as some people make out. The rewards can be amazing so make the most of your experiences!

Good luck!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

What’s occurring in west Wales? The BEVA Foal Care Course.

Why you should attend the BEVA Foal Care Course in March.

Put another way: Come and be entertained in wonderful west Wales and participate in an interactive smorgasbord of all matters relating to foals! It’s well lush.

Note of warning to any muso: this is NOT a course about an English indie rock band from Oxford. I won’t lie to you.

The aim of the course is to deliver practical information which can be used on a daily basis out there in the real world be it on the owner’s premises, a stud farm or a small clinic hospital.

Okay everyone now that I have hopefully attracted your attention or at least piqued your interest, don’t stop there and read on. There are so many CPD opportunities for those of us interested in equine work so why is this course the one not to miss?

Let me give you my (completely impartial) opinion:
·         Established Format: The course has run for several years so we kind of know what we are doing! There is generally a big turn out with a wide range of like-minded colleagues ranging from those in full-time equine work thorough those in mixed practice seeing the occasional foal: all will be catered for!
·         Interactive: Wonderful opportunity to interact. This is not a static course where you are stuck falling asleep in a stuffy lecture theatre. There is an extensive practical component both afternoons where you will get to perform useful techniques and you will get massively useful tips
·         Discussion: Even during the lectures, discussion is encouraged, nay insisted upon, making for a very dynamic buzz even to the lectures
·         Sympathetic speakers: The speakers are all internationally recognised experts apart from one rapidly approaching his sell-by date. In addition they are fantastic and sympathetic speakers who will gently guide you through any areas you are unsure about or have struggled with in practice
·         Flexibility: if you have particular problems in practice with foals or want to see a certain technique demonstrated, let us know and there is every chance we can oblige!
·         Socialise: The course is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends and meet new colleagues. There is an excellent course dinner for all and the after-dinner entertainment is unique: a genuine 100% bona-fide Welsh male voice choir!

So get involved and get along to west Wales in March for a fun course filled with tips and information you will use regularly in practice. Guaranteed.

Jonathan Pycock