On March 16, Dr. Kent Allen, DVM of Virginia Equine Imaging (also a member of the U.S. Equestrian Federation Drug Rules and Regulations committee as well as being the vet for many — USET teams) gave a lecture on drug regulation rule changes to a packed room at the Damascus Equine Associates veterinary clinic. The room held a variety of equestrian sportsman and women including some top hunter/jumper, eventing and dressage Maryland trainers. Several veterinarians from the area were in attendance as well.
The lecture began with a bit of history on the — USEF Drug Rules and Regulation committee and what their labs have found over the last few years. Interestingly enough, the bulk of drug testing done by the — USEF is of hunter/jumper horses and Arabian breed show horses. Another interesting statistic was that in 2008, the most overdosing infringements caught by the — USEF lab was concerning high levels of phenylbutazone (bute). Dr. Allen also stated that the majority of infringements are due to overuse or misuse of non-steroidal drugs. Hence why the likes of a 10 panel drug test are so important when it comes to making sure that everyone is on an equal playing field.
Dr. Allen gave a good explanation for the three categories of drugs designated by the — USEF. “Permitted Substances” are not regulated at all by — USEA. “Restricted Substances” are allowed in small amounts and a drug declaration form must be filled out prior to competition. “Forbidden Substances” are not allowed at all. However, if need for a legitimate therapeutic reason (such as a horse having a minor bought of colic), the horse must be withdrawn from competition for 24-hours and a medical report form must be filed with the show secretary before the horse competes again.
Dr. Allen touched lightly on the different rules used by the American Quarter Horse Association and commented on drug use in the U.S. racehorse industry stating, “the racehorse industry in the U.S. is in a state of disarray (in terms of drug regulation) and has a tremendous disadvantage over sport horses.” He went on to explain that the — USEF only has one drug testing facility and set of rules for the whole country, whereas the racing industry has several labs spread out across the country and different rules per state.
The big question of the night was the rule change effecting the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This rule change states that from April 1, 2010 to November 31, 2011, only one approved NSAID may be used without needing to submit a new NSAID drug declaration form to the organizing show/event secretary. Two approved NSAIDs may be used with the new form being filled out and submitted before the start of competition. The one exception to this rule is the use of flunixin (banamine) and phenylbutazone (bute) in combination, which is never allowed using competition. As of December 1, 2011, only one approved NSAID may be used and no form will need to be filled out.
After discussing this change in length, the lecture turned to the FEI rules and some changes that are occurring there. As of April 5, 2010, some drugs that used to be considered forbidden by FEI, such as bute, will now be allowed in small amounts. Competitors will need to keep a medication log along with the horses’ passport, which will need to be filled out by a veterinarian.