12th International Symposium on Equine Reproduction (ISER)


The first International Symposium on Equine Reproduction was held over 5 days in mid-July 1974, at King’s College, Cambridge, with lectures in the famous Physiological Laboratory on the Downing Site. The Symposium arose from the frustrations experienced by Peter Rossdale, Doug Mitchell and Twink Allen when attending and presenting papers at the large International Congress of Animal Reproduction and AI (ICAR) held in a huge and cavernous town hall in Munich, Germany. Over a cup of coffee they bemoaned the lack of papers on, and audience interest in, horses in general and equine reproduction in particular and, in a fit of pique, vowed to do something about the situation. Thus arose “The Munich Pact” to organise and stage an International Conference in Cambridge devoted entirely to the horse and specifically to the topic of reproduction. A group of experts in equine reproduction were coerced to form an International Organising Committee and a small group of “local equine luminaries” were bludgeoned into forming a Local Organising Committee. Doug Mitchell acted as Secretary, Peter Rossdale as Treasurer and Twink Allen as Chairman.

Just under 200 delegates from around the world attended the Symposium and this included an organised tour party of 20 Australian and New Zealand stud vets who were the “life and the soul” of the party. It took some doing to get them back safely to their rooms and prevent them from having a swimming race at 2am in the River Cam after the black-tie final dinner in King’s College. This included drinking an 1879 port drawn from King’s cellar by the late John Hickman, a Fellow of the College and a well-chosen member of the Local Organising Committee. This memorable evening followed four and a half days during which 150 lectures were given in a very tightly timed programme, which set the tone of good, but practical, equine reproductive science and veterinary practice, combined with a fair portion of camaraderie and jollity, which has been the hallmark of all the subsequent 4-yearly meetings. Twink Allen, Peter Rossdale and Idwal Rowlands edited (and often rewrote) all 150 manuscripts and these were published within a year of the Symposium as an 800 page Supplement of the Journal of Reproduction and Fertility. The Proceedings where much sought after and all 2500 copies were sold to make a handsome profit which helped greatly to create funding held by the International Committee Trust to provide travel scholarships for young scientists to attend subsequent Symposia around the world. In this way the International Symposium on Equine Reproduction was born and Cambridge was...Where it all began.