Road Stories

Bless the Horse Docs


At the AAEP Convention, thousands of horse veterinarians focus on improving the care they give horses.

By Christine Hamilton
December 20, 2017

portablexrayA veterinarian tries out a portable X-ray machine at the 2017 AAEP Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Imagine 5,344 veterinarians, students and vendors from 38 countries (including the United States) participating in about 132 hours of continuing education offered in everything that combines the words “horse” and “medical.”

That’s the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Annual Convention in a nutshell. The more than 9,000 AAEP members help more than 5 million horse owners worldwide. The 2017 continuing education convention was in San Antonio, Texas.

With more than half of the AAEP veterinarians in one place, companies in the vast convention trade show offer plenty of chances for vets to check out all kinds of equipment.

Read how Kelli Neubert has come to embrace the inevitable: having to doctor her herd. 

Though the trade show is all about horses, it’s rare to find a live horse in it, even in Texas. But the MinXray booth had one.

MinXray Representative Joni Watkins asked her friend, Judy Fortenberry, from nearby Bulverde, Texas, to bring in her palomino gelding, Cold Hard Smart Cash, to the trade show to act as a “patient.”

For three hours, veterinarians got to try out the high-tech digital imaging equipment on Cash, right at the convention center trade show.

Watkins gives demos and conducts training sessions for MinXray all over the country, most often at veterinary schools. But the chance to have a demo with a live horse at a downtown convention facility is rare.

minxrayparticipantsJudy Fortenberry and Cold Hard Smart Cash helped out with the MinXray demo at the 2017 AAEP Convention.

“It’s a big deal, because you have the audience right there. They don’t have to leave the convention and go off site,” Watkins says.

The center had a spare storeroom with concrete walls and plenty of space just 50 feet from the MinXray booth. Watkins covered the floor and wrapped Cash’s feet.

“You have to have a well-behaved horse,” she adds. “You can imagine what would happen if it wasn’t!”

For Fortenberry and her sensible Cash, this gig was a whole lot easier than their previous haul. The two were fresh off a championship win at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in the Level 2 amateur working cow horse.

In business since 1967, MinXray is a leader in portable, digital radiography. Battery-operated and wireless, the company’s X-ray units use a digital detector to transfer high quality images to a laptop in seconds. It’s amazing to see the radiographs veterinarians can produce in the field, outside a hospital setting.

And it’s fun to be around people just looking for better ways to take care of our horses. The 2018 AAEP Convention is in San Francisco, December 1 – 5.

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