The First International Symposium on Equine Reproduction arose from mixed feelings of frustration and excitement. Frustration at the inadequate emphasis given to the horse in comparative studies on the biology of mammalian reproduction. Excitement from the realisation that the horse could make an immense contribution to understanding reproductive processes in mammals.

The aims of The Symposia are to provide a forum for biologists and veterinarians with interests in equine reproduction to exchange views, review current knowledge and produce guidelines for future research. The Symposia are open to all with an active interest in reproduction in the horse.

The first symposium was held in Cambridge, UK in July 1974 and attracted 200 delegates from 22 countries, of whom about half presented scientific papers. Since then, Symposia have been held in Davis, USA (1978); Sydney, Australia (1982); Calgary, Canada (1986); Deauville, France (1990); Caxambu, Brazil (1994); Onderstepoort, South Africa (1998); Fort Collins, Colorado, USA (2002); Kerkrade, The Netherlands (2006) and Lexington, Kentucky, USA (2010). Each of these has been attended by approximately 275 delegates, including the most eminent international scientists in the field of equine reproduction. Some of the scientific information presented at the Symposia has been instrumental in revolutionising our understanding of basic reproductive function in horses. The Symposia have also been the source of data which have helped to alter and improve approaches to practical stud farm medicine. The Eleventh International Symposium on Equine Reproduction is to be held in Hamilton, New Zealand (26th to 31st January 2014).

The concept of an 'Honorary Chair' was formulated at the second ISER. John Hughes and Bill Pickett initiated the title of Honorary Chair to say 'thanks' to Ed Honnen for a large donation of money to support ISER II in Davis. Since ISER III in Sydney, the International Committee have selected a notable individual in the equine reproduction research field as honorary chair to acknowledge both their commitment to the field of equine reproduction research over many years and their support of ISER.

The Honorary Chair is selected by the IERS committee at the mid-term meeting. ISER committee members are therefore ineligible for nomination/selection. The Honorary Chair and his/her spouse are invited to attend the ISER meeting at the costs of the Local Organising Committee. The Honorary Chair is introduced during the official opening to the Symposium.

In 2002 Lavonne Hughes, made a donation to the International Equine Reproduction Trust in memory of her husband, the late John Hughes (one of the original instigators of the ISER symposia). With this donation, the John Hughes Memorial Lecture was initiated. The John Hughes Memorial Lecture is an invited presentation of approximately 45 minutes, accompanied by a full manuscript in the meeting proceedings. The presenter is selected by the IERS Committee at the mid-way meeting. Their remit is to find an engaging speaker who can stimulate or challenge the audience with a topic with obvious links to the science of horse breeding, but by preference with broader scope and significance. Previous invited lecturers have been:

The proceedings of each symposium have been published as supplements to world renowned journals and are distributed throughout the world. These books are essential components of the library of any veterinarian or scientist with an interest in reproduction in horses.

The International Equine Reproduction Symposia Committee is comprised of respected veterinarians and scientists from around the world who can be nominated by delegates at the quadrennial symposia.

The International Symposia were launched with donations from concerned individuals and international horse organisations in 1974. This money is kept in trust and managed by The Trustees, an independent body charged with ensuring that the funds are used correctly. These funds have been effectively invested over the years, allowing The Symposia to offer unique benefits to participants, including the allocation of travel bursaries for young scientists.

The International Symposia on Equine Reproduction have become an essential part of the calendar of scientists and veterinarians who study reproduction in horses throughout the world.

© 2009 International Symposium on Equine Reproduction (ISER)

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