Equitarian Workshop Lays Groundwork for Future Collaborations

November 8, 2010

By David Turoff, DVM

The word “equitarian” was coined by Dr. Jay Merriam, a presenting clinician at the first annual Equitarian Workshop held recently in Veracruz, Mexico, and it’s a word I appreciate; it represents the spirit of what I have found to be the most meaningful work I’ve ever done.

The workshop—a four-day educational event designed to foster equine welfare globally—was a success on many levels, but to me, the most important goal achieved was the formation of relationships between veterinarians from a wide range of backgrounds, all with a common motivation—to improve the lives of working equids everywhere. Certainly for me, practicing veterinary medicine in the third world is done purely for the love of the work; it is its own reward.

Equine dental work
Equine dentristy was a hot topic at the workshop in Mexico.
David Turoff, DVM/HSVMA

Organizations represented at this event were as diverse as the individuals; HSVMA, AAEP, The Donkey Sanctuary, WHE, and AAMVEE each brought a unique institutional perspective to Equitarian work, and the groundwork was laid for further collaboration. There is no doubt that this will be an ongoing effort, with even more groups recruited in the years to come.

There is also no doubt that the enthusiasm, energy and imagination of those present this year will not be wasted. There are already active discussions taking place among us, with the focus on establishing new programs and expanding existing ones. I’m confident that funding will be found, opportunities will be explored, new partnerships and friendships will evolve, and as a result, the quality of life for working equines will improve wherever these factors can be brought to bear.

I learned a lot from this workshop, and I’m profoundly grateful to HSVMA for sending me. We have everywhere to go from here.

Learn more about global equine welfare at the 56th Annual AAEP Conference in Baltimore, where there will be an equitarian panel discussing the specifics of organizing, funding and supporting new initiatives to help working equines around the world.

Dr. Turoff is a longtime volunteer with HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS). He is also the owner of Foothill Mobile Veterinary Service in Placerville, CA.