AAEP issues veterinary guidelines for horse racing

AAEP issues veterinary guidelines for horse racing

Feb 18, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Lexington, Ky. -- The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) is throwing its support behind industry efforts to improve the safety and welfare of racehorses by issuing a white paper containing veterinary guidelines for racing.

"We'd like to think that if our horses could read this document, they would be pleased," says Scott Palmer, DVM, of Clarksburg, N.J., who chaired the AAEP's Racing Task Force, a group of 35 private racetrack practitioners, regulatory veterinarians and veterinary specialists who worked since last summer to develop the white paper.

Titled "Putting the horse first: Veterinary recommendations for the safety and welfare of the Thoroughbred racehorse," the paper addresses four key areas: the public perception of racing, medication, the veterinarian-owner-trainer relationship and the racing business model.

"This is a critical time for the racing industry, and we join the efforts of other groups (such as the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the Jockey Club) who are determined to make improvements for the health of our equine athletes," says AAEP President Dr. Harry Werner, of North Granby, Conn.

Among key recommendations in the white paper:

* Industry wide adoption of uniform rules for medication usage, testing, security and enforcement

* Continued implementation of procedures to reduce substantially the injury rate of horses

* Standardization and enhancement of pre-race and post-race veterinary examinations, with mandatory cross-jurisdictional sharing of information

* Universal adoption of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) model medication rules that state no medication should be administered on race day except furosemide

* Complete transparency for the veterinarian-trainer-owner relationship in all aspects of health-care decisions

* Development of a program for rehabilitation, retraining and adoption of horses when their racing careers are over, supporting a secondary market for them

* Increased racetrack security to ensure compliance with medication rules

"In a unique climate of widespread industry commitment to fix what is wrong with racing, veterinarians have made every effort to put the horse first. It is fair to say that particular recommendations will resonate with some individuals and alienate others in the industry," Palmer says.

For additional details on the AAEP white paper, see the upcoming March issue of DVM Newsmagazine.