The American Association of Equine Practitioners has developed guidelines for veterinarians who treat horses competing in athletic events other than racing.  The document, “Clinical Guidelines for Veterinarians Treating the Non-Racing Performance Horse,” promotes medical practices the AAEP believes place the appropriate emphasis on the health, safety and welfare of performance horses.

Focusing on the highly competitive performance horse environment, the guidelines address the importance of obtaining a specific diagnosis before administering treatment. All medical treatment of performance horses should be based upon a veterinary diagnosis with appropriate time allowed for an evaluation following treatment to ensure the horse is recovered before it competes again. Administering joint injections without specific medical indication is an example of under diagnosis and over treatment.  The competition schedule should not be the primary factor when evaluating a horse’s need for medical care.

“The judicious use of therapeutic techniques and medications is at the core of all successful veterinary care,” said Dr. William Moyer, AAEP president. “Just as the AAEP has previously examined the appropriate veterinary care of racehorses, it is important for us, as veterinarians, to equally consider the medical care of the athletes competing in numerous sport horse disciplines.”

In addition to medication administration, the guidelines address the use of shockwave therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic therapy, and cold therapy.  Also included are recommendations for veterinary medical records, drug compounding and infectious disease control at competitions and sales.  The guidelines will be updated as research provides new data about the medical care of performance horses.

The clinical guidelines were developed by the AAEP Task Force on Medication in the Non-Racing Performance Horse, a group comprised of private and regulatory veterinarians involved in a wide range of sport horse disciplines. Dr. Nat White of Leesburg, Va., AAEP immediate past president, served as task force chair.

“While the guidelines were written for veterinarians, we hope our recommendations will resonate with owners, trainers and organizations involved with competitions,” explained Dr. White. “Everyone involved in the care of the horse must appreciate the potential harm that may come from the excessive use of multiple medications. Simply giving a horse time off from competition is often the best medical choice that can be made.”

The clinical guidelines are available here.  For more information, contact Sally Baker, AAEP director of marketing and public relations, at (859) 233-0147 or

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, the AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 10,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

Post Type

  • Press Release

Publish Date

September 19, 2011

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