British vets are welcoming the appointment of a Brit as veterinary director of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Graeme Cooke, originally from Northern Ireland, has taken up the post 12 months after the departure of long-time FEI vet director Frits Sluyter.

Mr Cooke has just completed an MBA, before which he worked for six years as a senior policy adviser on the animal health and welfare team within Defra, dealing with disease outbreaks, international and national trade strategies and contingency planning.

Prior to that, he worked in referral-level equine clinical practice at Avonvale.

Professor Josh Slater of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) said the announcement of the appointment had been keenly awaited.

He said: “BEVA worked with Graeme when he was at Defra, and he was very proactive, informed and took sensible views. He will bring a fresh perspective, is likely to look after UK interests and have no prior allegiances in the FEI.”

British team vet and head of the voluntary FEI vet committee John McEwen also welcomed the appointment.

“Graeme has a lot of ability across many fields, used to be in top-class equine practice and was very successful at Defra,” he said.

“He has a big job to do, but he has very good people skills, understands our needs as vets and is a good analyser — I think it is very good news for the FEI.”

Graeme Cooke told H&H: “I am still in the listening stage. I’m very practical and believe in clarity and good communication at all levels. The FEI is undergoing change as an organisation, and I’m glad to be part of that.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (20 August, ’09)