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Position on Endurance Horse Medications (1975)

Endurance rides and competitive trail rides differ from racing in that horses competing in these events are judged primarily on their endurance, physical fitness and ability to withstand the stress of sustained hard work on long trails. Speed and time are considerations, but not the determining factors.

AAEP policy recommends that the use of any medication in horses participating in competitive trail or endurance rides is prohibited. Medications for this purpose are defined as injectable, oral or topical administered substances other than oral electrolytes and vitamins. 

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.

Position on Therapeutic Medications in Racehorses (2009)

The AAEP policy on medication in pari-mutuel racing is driven by our mission to improve the health and welfare of the horse. The AAEP policy is aimed at providing the best health care possible for the racehorses competing while ensuring the integrity of the sport. The AAEP expects its members to abide by the rules of all jurisdictions
where they practice. The AAEP condemns the administration of non-therapeutic or unprescribed medications to racehorses by anyone. The AAEP believes that all therapeutic medication should be administered to racehorses by or under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. Health care decisions on individual horses should involve the veterinarian, the trainer and owner with the best interests of the horse as the primary objective. The AAEP strongly encourages continued research in determining the therapeutic levels and appropriate withdrawal times that represent responsible use of medication in the racehorse. The AAEP is aware of the dynamics of the development of new products, as well as the continuing evaluation of current medications, and will continue to evaluate its policy based upon available scientific research and the best interests of the horse.

In order to provide the best health care possible for the racehorse, veterinarians should utilize the most modern diagnostic and therapeutic modalities available in accordance with medication guidelines designed to ensure the integrity of the sport. To this end, the following are the essential elements of AAEP policy concerning
veterinary care of the racehorse:

• All racing jurisdictions should adopt the uniform medication guidelines set forth by the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium Inc. (RMTC). Including the RMTC testing
procedures with strict quality controls and penalty schedules, these guidelines and procedures strive to protect the integrity of racing as well as the health and well-being of the horse.

• Race day medication must be in accordance with current RMTC guidelines. In the absence of a more effective treatment/preventative for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), the AAEP supports the use of furosemide as a day-of-the-race medication to control EIPH. The AAEP advocates the research and development of new treatments to help prevent and/or control EIPH.

• The AAEP encourages proactive and constructive communication between regulatory bodies and practicing veterinarians and other industry stakeholders.

• The AAEP believes that all veterinarians should use judicious, prudent and ethical decisions in all treatments to ensure the health and welfare of the horse.

• The AAEP strongly endorses increased surveillance and enforcement of the above-mentioned regulations. 

For more information regarding RMTC guidelines, please visit www.rmtcnet.com.

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.

Position on Therapeutic Medications in Non-Racing Performance Horses (2002)

The AAEP policy on medication in non-racing performance horses is driven by our mission to improve the health and welfare of the horse. It is aimed at providing the best health care possible for horses competing under the current rules in various disciplines while ensuring the integrity of the sport. The AAEP expects its members to abide by the rules of all jurisdictions where they practice. The AAEP condemns the administration of nontherapeutic or unprescribed medications to performance horses by anyone. The AAEP believes that all therapeutic medication should be administered to performance horses by or under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. Health care decisions on individual horses involve the veterinarian, the trainer and the owner with the best interests of the horse as the primary objective.

The AAEP strongly encourages continued research in determining the therapeutic levels and appropriate withdrawal times that represent responsible use of medication in the competing horse. The AAEP is aware of the dynamics of the development of new products, as well as the continuing evaluation of current medications, and will continue to evaluate its policy based upon available scientific research and the best interests of the horse.

In order to provide the best health care possible for the performance horse, veterinarians should utilize the most appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic modalities in accordance with medication guidelines of the sport. To this end, the following are the essential elements of the AAEP policy concerning veterinary care of the performance horse:

• It is recognized that various performance horse disciplines have differing regulations concerning medication guidelines. The AAEP urges members to abide by these regulations and to work with the governing bodies to develop and enforce such regulations.  The establishment of guidelines backed by testing procedures with strict quality controls should be the goal to protect the well-being of the horse and the integrity of the sport.

• The AAEP encourages proactive and constructive communication between regulatory bodies, practicing veterinarians and other industry stakeholders.

• The AAEP offers its expertise to all performance horse organizations for assistance in establishing medication guidelines for their respective disciplines.

• The use of medications for the purpose of stimulating, depressing or numbing a horse at the time of competition should be forbidden. It is recognized that some governing bodies allow
for the emergency use of local anesthetics for strictly medical purposes within the normal withdrawal time for such agents. Such procedures must be very closely controlled.

• Products present in a horse at the time of performance that have been proven to interfere with accurate and effective postperformance testing should be strictly forbidden.

• The AAEP endorses the use of quality-controlled testing procedures by all performance horse organizations. Detection of pharmacologically insignificant levels of therapeutic medications
should not constitute a violation of medication rules.

• Governing organizations have developed guidelines for the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents in their sports. It is the opinion of the AAEP that the use of multiple NSAID agents is not in the best interest of the health and welfare of the horse. Performance horse governing bodies are encouraged to regularly reevaluate their regulations in light of this recommendation.

• The AAEP believes that all veterinarians should follow a judicious, prudent and ethical decision-making process. 

• The AAEP endorses increased surveillance and enforcement of the above-mentioned regulations. 

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.

Position on the Use of Anabolic Steroids (2007)

Definition and Mode of Action
Anabolic steroids are a group of naturally occurring and/or synthetic hormones including androgens (testosterone and its derivatives), estrogen and progestins. The action of these substances is to increase protein synthesis, particularly in skeletal muscle. Anabolic steroids have specific indications in the therapeutic treatment of medical conditions of horses.

Indications for Use
Indications for use: Anabolic steroids are primarily effective when the objective is to improve appetite, repair tissue, promote weight gain and accelerate recovery from disease. In horses, anabolic steroids may stimulate appetite and increase muscle mass, particularly when there has been marked tissue breakdown associated with disease, prolonged anorexia, stress, or surgery.

Potential side effects of anabolic therapy: Anabolic steroids may cause aggressive or male-like behavior in mares or geldings. Of greater concern are the potentially adverse effects of anabolic steroids on the reproductive function of both mares and stallions. Although these effects are not thought to be permanent, consideration must be given to this possibility.

Additionally, anabolic steroids, like other drugs, should only be prescribed where a doctor/client/patient relationship exists and only for the therapeutic treatment of specific medical conditions. In adherence with its medication policies related to competition horses, the AAEP recommends that practitioners abide by the rules governing the jurisdiction or competition in which they practice. Veterinarians must exercise extreme caution in prescribing anabolic steroids to prevent their acquisition for human use.

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.

Position on the Use of Corticosteroids (2007)

Definition and Mode of Action
Corticosteroids occur naturally or may be synthesized. The most useful and desired effect of these compounds is to control inflammation. Corticosteroids have specific indications in the therapeutic treatment of medical conditions of horses. 

Indications for Use
Indications for use: Corticosteroids act and are indicated in a wide variety of conditions that require anti-inflammatory therapy, such as joint inflammation, allergic conditions and skin disease.

Potential side effects of corticosteroid therapy: Some corticosteroids, when used excessively or too frequently, may have a negative effect on the body’s natural immune response. Locally injected, corticosteroids may weaken support tissues such as the cartilage and ligaments of a damaged joint if used excessively or indiscriminately. The frequent systemic use of corticosteroids may suppress the ability of the adrenal gland to produce naturally occurring corticosteroids and other hormones, thus creating a hormonal imbalance. Some corticosteroids have been implicated anecdotally as a cause of laminitis. 

Additionally, corticosteroids, like other drugs, should only be prescribed where a doctor/client/patient relationship exists and only for the therapeutic treatment of specific medical conditions. In adherence with its medication policies related to competition horses, the AAEP recommends that practitioners abide by the rules governing the jurisdiction or competition in which they practice.

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.