AAEP Announces Initiative to Enhance Horse Health, Racing Integrity

Prescription for Racing Reform to seek non-race day EIPH treatments, support 48-hour NSAID rule

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) today announced a multi-part initiative to protect the health and welfare of the racehorse and help ensure the long-term viability of the racing industry in the United States. The central component of the AAEP’s Prescription for Racing Reform is the association’s commitment to identifying non-race day treatment alternatives for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH).

The AAEP Racing Committee held a strategic planning session in late February to address key issues affecting the health of the racehorse. The result was the development of the Prescription for Racing Reform, a 10-point plan designed to both protect the health of racing’s equine athletes and strengthen the integrity of the sport.

Key points of the initiative include:

  • Investigating efficacious management strategies for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage that do not require race-day medication administration. The AAEP supports the use of furosemide to control the negative effects of EIPH in racehorses. However, race-day administration of any medication is seen by many as problematic for the sport.

The AAEP will pursue alternative treatments for EIPH by:

  1. Facilitating a meeting of scientists, including experts in the fields of equine EIPH, pulmonary function and human sports medicine, with the stated goal of identifying research priorities which may yield effective alternatives to current EIPH treatment protocols.
  2. Pursue funding for identified research projects.
  • Banning the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses in training. Anabolic steroids are already banned for horses actively competing. The AAEP supports the complete discontinuation of systemic anabolic steroid use in horses currently in training.
  • Restricting administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to 48 hours before racing. Current NSAID rules in most jurisdictions allow 24-hour administration before racing. Research indicates that the residual anti-inflammatory effect of NSAID administration remains at 24 hours. To ensure pre-race examinations are not influenced by the prior administration of an anti-inflammatory medication, the AAEP endorses restricting NSAID administration to 48 hours pre-race.

Other points of the plan address compounded medication, veterinary list reciprocity and stiff sanctions for rules violators. The complete 10-Point Prescription for Racing Reform can be viewed here.

“Our desire to investigate non-race day treatment alternatives for EIPH serves both the horse and the industry and we are committed to developing a strategy that goes beyond the simple cessation of race-day medication,” said Kent Carter, DVM, 2015 AAEP president. “As doctors of veterinary medicine, we want to contribute to the success of the racing industry but must remain committed to protecting the health and welfare of the horse as our foremost priority.”

This initiative continues the AAEP’s commitment to health and safety issues. The association sponsored the first-ever industry Racehorse Medication Summit in 2001; co-sponsored the 2011 International Summit on Race Day Medication; and developed numerous white papers with recommendations addressing the health and safety of racehorses and veterinary practice in a pari-mutuel environment.

The AAEP Racing Committee is chaired by Dr. Scott Hay, a private practitioner based in Florida. Other members of the committee are Drs. Rick Arthur, Keith Berkeley, Larry Bramlage, Robert Burgess, Alan Chastain, Nancy Goodman, John Kimmel, Keith Latson, Patti Marquis, Melissa McKee, Paul Nolan, Foster Northrop, Scott Palmer, Andy Roberts and Mary Scollay.

For more information about the initiative, please contact Sally Baker, AAEP director of marketing and public relations, at 859-233-0147 or sbaker@aaep.org.

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. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

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