THE recent Irish Equine Veterinary Association Conference commenced with an excellent hands-on and immersive wetlab day at Cavan Equestrian Centre.

This workshop dealt with imaging of the equine head. High quality speakers contributed and the latest in equine diagnostic imaging equipment was showcased and displayed by Molloy Veterinary and Celtic SMR.

The successful day ended with a hotly contested quiz followed by supper at the Slieve Russell Hotel, home to the conference.

For the next two days, the event delivered an action-packed and thought-provoking series of lectures, talks and presentations by leading experts in the field of equine veterinary as well as a number of case studies and abstract studies.

A series of hands-on workshops, including the very popular one on bandaging, took place over the two days also.

The panel discussions over the two days sparked great debate and exchanges of opinions between the veterinary community. The conference delivered the perfect platform and opportunity for equine veterinarians to come together to both teach and learn as well as transferring experiences and knowledge.

It also facilitated the opportunity for veterinarians - both established and the next generation - and those involved in veterinary nursing to network with key industry stakeholders.

The IEVA Exhibition Hall, which was full to the brim with key service and product providers to the equine veterinary sector, was a hub for interaction and engagement between exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and delegates. A lot of business-to-business activity took place.

The IMV Imaging-sponsored Case Awards saw Milda Baltrimaire from Tullyraine Equine Clinic judged the overall winner for her study into absorbable urethral stent placement in the standing horse for the successful treatment of a urethral stricture.

The inaugural FutureProof campaign, which saw many industry stakeholders sponsor a veterinary student to attend IEVA Conference 2023, was a runaway success and delivered 17 Irish students - some of whom are studying abroad - the opportunity to attend the conference. Plans are being put in place to expand the campaign for 2024.

The social fixture of IEVA Conference 2023 was the gala dinner on Friday evening, which was expertly hosted by Brendan McArdle of The Irish Field.

Guests were treated to a sumptuous dinner followed by dancing into the wee hours. The highlight of the evening was when Brent Pope, guest speaker, took to the floor. He delivered a very passionate speech on the importance of minding one’s mental health, the importance of reaching out and looking for help, with his key message being ‘it’s okay not to be okay’.

An auction on the night raised money for both Veterinary Support Fund and Samaritans Ireland.

Sabrina Barnwell, newly-elected president of IEVA and based in Dooneen Equine Veterinary Clinic, Co Limerick, said: “As we draw the curtains on what has been a truly successful IEVA23 I would like to thank the many delegates and exhibitors that made the weekend such a fun and vibrant event. The weekend highlights were excellent speakers, a truly glamorous gala ball and a whopping €6,000 raised for charity.

“We discussed heads, behaviour and the latest updates in the papers. Dr Ellen Hegarty highlighted how our 2022 feedback to the National Veterinary Prescription System [NVPS] team at the Department of Agriculture has been acted upon. Now, at the time of the NVPS rollout, antimicrobial medications only need to be recorded in horses.

“It has been a busy year for the Irish Equine Veterinary Association. We have hosted several one-day Continuing Professional Development events and, most importantly, we have investigated the issues of retention and recruitment facing the profession.

“The mission statement of IEVA cites professional development, wellness of members and evidence-based leadership. We brought a survey to the members and gathered Irish data, and now we are working on Irish solutions.

“A key part of the recruitment process is to showcase equine veterinary as a career to veterinary students and new graduates. This year IEVA23 has continued the Case Award prize with a significant purse for recent graduates and introduced the FutureProof Students Scheme which was generously supported by our industry and saw 17 students supported to attend the event.

“We are already planning another action-packed conference for 2024. If you were at IEVA23 we invite you back and, if not, then don’t miss out again!”

IEVA24 will take place at The Lyrath Estate, Co Kilkenny, from November 7th-9th.

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