The global COVID-19 pandemic is forcing another equine industry convention to shift from a live to virtual event.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) announced that its annual convention and trade show will be virtual. The original event was scheduled for Dec. 5-9, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nev. The new dates and schedule for the virtual event will be announced in September.

“This was not an easy decision, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the potential safety risks to our members, staff, exhibitors and others attending was, in the Board’s view, too great to move forward with a face-to-face meeting,” according to a letter to AAEP members from Dr. Dave Frisbie, the 2020 president of the organization. “We realize that not all will agree with this decision, but independent of individual risk tolerance for a large in-person meeting, the generalized community risk is considered too great to proceed.”

The event will continue many of the traditional features of the educational program and will be a combination of live and on-demand sessions.

“While the board and I are very disappointed to not be able to gather with you in person this year, we are excited about the opportunities for education and connection presented by a virtual convention and trade show,” Frisbie says, noting that the board voted unanimously for the virtual event. “We are committed to virtually hosting many of the popular elements that have brought equine veterinarians together annually for nearly 7 decades, including peer-reviewed education and connection to trade show exhibitors from all sectors of the veterinary market.”

Countless equine industry events have been interrupted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AAEP joins the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners in shifting its live event to one that is virtual. The NEAEP announced June 22 that its 12th annual symposium will still take place Sept. 23, will also remain open for the remainder of 2020 to accommodate busy work schedules.

“We will miss Saratoga Springs, N.Y., but we need to do what makes the most sense for the organization,” according to Dave Dawson, CEO and executive director of the NEAEP. “We still plan to deliver world class education opportunities. The virtual platform will allow us to reach more people, be more flexible given that travel isn’t required, and the symposium itself will be open for a substantially longer period of time.”