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September 27, 2013

To BEVA or Not to BEVA?

My recent attendance at the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) congress saw me accomplish a number of firsts – my first time at the event, my first trip to Manchester and my first taste of horse food.

As a new BEVA attendee, I had been eager to see whether the three day programme held in Manchester Central would live up to its self-proclaimed description of ‘The World’s Best Equine Veterinary Congress’. Without extensive equine congress experiences for comparison, I perhaps can’t make a final judgement but I was suitably impressed by both the jam-packed scientific programme and the commercial exhibition. The social agenda wasn’t bad either!

With four lecture streams covering all manner of equine topics, ranging from traditional lectures to interactive debates, there really did seem to be something for everyone (even those not working in equine practice, like me). Personal topic highlights included the colic strand, the lameness panel with Sue Dyson and a heated debate about whether the new vet school is a good or a bad thing for the equine profession and UK veterinary industry. It was great that delegates really got involved with all of the debates and, secretly, I think we all found it satisfying seeing eminent clinicians put on the spot during the panel case discussions. As is always the way, however, the lectures I was most interested in always seemed to clash, so access to the ‘catch-up’ booth was a real plus for me.

The exhibition hall showcased the latest in what seemed to be everything equine. One word of advice – don’t remark on how delicious a sample of horse food smells, if you’re not game for tasting it! One thing that did strike me, which was also highlighted through speaking to many of the exhibitors and vets, was the rising interest of the equine profession in fields such as nutrition, dentistry and complementary therapies. It wasn’t just me taking sniffs of the wide selection of equine sustenance on display, attempting poor farriery on simulated horse leg and trying out the latest magnetic gadgets. Are we experiencing a shift in the attitudes of equine vets? Are we behind human medicine and small animal practice, in this regard?

All in all, BEVA congress 2013 seemed to be a great success – satisfying intellectually, socially and professionally. So in answer to the title question – “To BEVA” would certainly be my recommendation. Hopefully this is the phrase I will be uttering next year, in conjunction with “and beyond!” as I extend my arm and jet off in a Buzz Lightyear –esque fashion to BEVA 2014.