Racetrack practitioner Jeff Blea, DVM, partner in VonBluecher, Blea, Hunkin Inc., Equine Medicine and Surgery, in Sierra Madre, California, was installed as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) during the Dec. 10 President’s Luncheon at the association’s 59th Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Blea possesses significant expertise in ethical and policy issues affecting racetrack veterinarians and is a strong advocate for improving the racing model for both the horse and the practitioner through adoption of uniform rules among racing jurisdictions.
At the age of 8, Blea moved with his family from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to New Orleans, Louisiana, where his father trained Thoroughbred racehorses. In high school, Blea began exercising horses in the mornings before taking out his jockey’s license during his senior year, winning his first race aboard Miss Ethel at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 13, 1983. However, a morning training accident five months later at Jefferson Downs abruptly ended Blea’s riding career.
Blea enrolled at Colorado State University, where he obtained his bachelor’s in 1989 and his DVM in 1993. After graduation, he was hired as an associate with Robert Story Equine in New Mexico, where he cared for racing Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds at Sunland Park and Ruidoso Downs. The following year, Dr. Helmuth VonBluecher brought Blea into his Southern California racetrack practice, where Blea became a partner in 1998. The five-veterinarian practice serves Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar and Pomona racetracks. Blea concentrates his practice on musculoskeletal issues and lameness diagnostics.
Blea serves on the AAEP’s Finance and Audit Committee and as chair of the On Call Task Force. He previously served on the board of directors from 2003-2005 and on the Equine Welfare, Membership, Nominating, Professional Conduct and Ethics, Public Policy, Racing and Student Relations committees. In addition, Blea serves on the University of California, Davis Intramural Grant Research Committee and on the boards of the Southern California Equine Foundation, Dolly Green Research Foundation and California Retirement Management Account (CARMA).
Outside of practice, Blea enjoys spending time with his wife, Annie, who also is a veterinarian, and their daughters Faith and Abby. The family cherishes trips to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Blea is able to enjoy his hobbies of fly fishing and Western art.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. The AAEP reaches more than five million horse owners through its nearly 10,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.