Motorcycling vets turn virtual in innovative marathon attempt

  • Intrepid fundraisers Vets With Horsepower will be tackling a new style of challenge this year when they present a record-breaking 25-hour programme of online veterinary lectures to a global audience of up to 10,000 people.

    The group, founded by Derek Knottenbelt 12 years ago, usually tours countries by motorbike while delivering continued professional development (CPD) talks.

    As well as providing access to continued education for horse industry professionals around the world, the group has raised more than £780,000 for charity to date.

    In 2020, Vets With Horsepower should have been embarking on their 10th anniversary tour but it was postponed owing to the pandemic, which has also prevented the event from taking place this year.

    “Because we are lunatics, we decided we still wanted to do something to help our charities and our objective now is to break the world record for the longest continuous CPD programme ever produced,” Professor Knottenbelt told H&H.

    “We are also hoping to break the world record for CPD audience attendance, which is currently 5,000 people — we’d like to double that and have people from more than 70 countries participate.”

    The “virtual tour” will consist of a 25-hour programme of continuous talks, which will take place on 29 April, with registration open to everyone.

    The incredible line-up consists of 32 lectures delivered by 23 experts in their field. Topics include managing infectious disease outbreaks, delivered by Josh Slater, while Roger Smith will deliver two talks: The equine flexor tendon and its disorders and Imaging the soft tissue of the distal limb of horses.

    Sue Dyson will be talking about the applications of her ridden horse pain ethogram while Michael Shepherd will discuss bone disease in the racing thoroughbred. Other topics include sarcoids, melanoma surgery, equine obesity, the equine back, anaesthesia in the field, skin diseases and the applications of medical acupuncture.

    Tickets cost £10 with the first 5,000 applicants able to attend the live event. All ticket-holders will be able to access the full 25 hours of talks for six weeks. Full details of how to register are available at: www.vetswithhorsepower.com/2021.

    Prof Knottenbelt also hopes people will increase their £10 donation to enable a free ticket for those who might struggle to pay.

    Continued below… 

    “It’s something they do in cafes in Naples, where you order a coffee and are also asked if you want to pay for a ‘sospiri’, which means that someone can come in and have a coffee [that you have donated],” he explained.

    “We’re hoping we’ve created a society of people with a generally benevolent, altruistic approach that can help vets in countries like Mauritania, Ethiopia, Haiti and Belize for whom £10 is several months of income.”

    The event is aiming to raise more than £120,000 for this year’s supported charities, The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust; Saving The Survivors — a charity that helps rehabilitate animals brutally injured by poachers; vet mental health charity Vetlife and Ethelbert Child and Youth Care Centre, a South African Charity that looks after abused children.

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