If you attend AAEP conventions there is a phrase heard over and over, year after year. It burrows into the brain with the persistence of a nursery rhyme, mantra, or Elton John lyric. “The Health and Welfare of the Horse.” Whether it’s stated outright or just implied, every session and every event comes back to that phrase. It makes sense, since for equine practitioners, that’s really what it’s all about.

The sessions I attended yesterday afternoon were less medical and more philosophical. The closest anything came to clinical medicine was the discussion of diagnostic techniques used to detect soring in gaited show horses.

Instead of diagnosing and treating diseases, with both sessions the prevailing theme was the impact of human choices on the health and welfare of the horse.

scales

The tricky part of veterinary medicine, particularly equine practice where our patients actually earn paychecks, is that our patients do not pay their own medical bills. Veterinarians face a conflict of interest every time we roll out of bed for a work day.
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I wonder sometimes if people realize how much time veterinarians spend in ethical wrangling–with each other and with ourselves. Sometimes I’m not even sure that we realize it. But, the tricky part of veterinary medicine, particularly equine practice where our patients actually