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 healthcare possible for the racehorses competing while ensuring the integrity of the sport.

The racetrack veterinarian should be directly involved in the diagnosis and treatment of soundness and health disorders; and, must advocate with all stakeholders for professional and ethical practice at all times.

There is much consistency across racing jurisdictions with respect to therapeutic medication control and anti-doping regulations; however, some differences do exist. It is therefore essential that veterinarians providing care to the racehorse know and carefully follow the rules, especially as they concern the health and welfare of the horse. The AAEP expects its members to abide by the rules of all jurisdictions where they practice.

Medication usage for non-therapeutic purposes can put horse health at risk and deprives ethical stakeholders of fair competition. The AAEP condemns the administration of non-therapeutic or unprescribed medications to racehorses based on our belief that it is not in the interest of horse welfare and racing integrity. The AAEP believes that all therapeutic medication (prescription or otherwise) should be administered by or under the direction of a licensed veterinarian and based on a diagnosis. (Click here to view the ARCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule). Healthcare decisions for individual horses should involve the veterinarian, the trainer and owner with the best interests of the horse as the primary objective.

In order to provide the best healthcare possible for the racehorse, veterinarians should utilize the most current 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 for all horses in competition:

  • The AAEP believes the welfare of the horse must be placed above the demands of competition and monetary or social gain.
  • The AAEP strongly supports veterinary practitioner adherence to the ethical guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
  • The AAEP recommends wherever possible to follow the principles of evidence-based medicine before proceeding with a treatment recommendation. The AAEP believes that treatment recommendations be based on a thorough knowledge of the horse’s condition based on previous and current examinations as well as appropriate diagnostic testing.
  • The AAEP recommends all medical procedures and treatments be performed in the context of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
  • The AAEP recommends a detailed medical record be completed for each examination, and all records should comply with the veterinary medical board requirements in the state where one practices.
  • The AAEP recommends a horse’s history and medical records be shared between the horse’s primary veterinarian, consulting veterinarian, trainer and owners, as well as any veterinarian the owner chooses in order to provide a continuity of care.

Additionally, the following are AAEP guidelines specific to the sport of horse racing:

  • The AAEP strongly recommends and advocates that all racing jurisdictions should adopt the national uniform medication program (NUMP) and penalty schedules as set forth by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), including the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium’s oversight on laboratory performance and proficiency. These regulations and procedures strive to protect the integrity of racing as well as the health and welfare of the horse.
  • The AAEP recommends abiding by the rules and regulations of the jurisdiction in which one practices, recognizing that some state regulations do not conform to the NUMP.
  • The AAEP encourages proactive and constructive communication between regulatory bodies and practicing veterinarians, as well as other industry stakeholders based on the premise that attending veterinarians should be unconditional advocates for the welfare and safety of horses and work closely with regulatory veterinarians to identify and protect horses that are at increased risk for injury.
  • The AAEP endorses “rest” as an important component of a comprehensive healthcare program for racehorses and recommends the integration of rest into therapeutic medication programs.
  • The AAEP supports the judicious use of compounded medications in strict compliance with FDA regulations and in accordance with the AAEP’s compounding guidelines.
  • The AAEP supports the communication of all medical and treatment history to the new trainer and owner of a horse claimed or purchased to ensure continuity of care.
  • The AAEP supports a minimum interval of 14 days following an intra-articular injection to a horse’s next race, recognizing that differences in risk among varied racing disciplines may warrant consideration.
  • The AAEP supports a 48-hour restricted administration time for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for racing and breezing as well as the elimination of stacking (i.e. administration of two or more drugs of the same classification).
  •  The AAEP strongly endorses increased surveillance and out of competition testing to facilitate enforcement of the above-mentioned regulations.
  • The AAEP currently supports the use of furosemide as a race-day medication to control exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in the absence of a more effective treatment and/or management strategy for EIPH.
  • The AAEP recognizes the ongoing industry initiatives to phase out race-day administration of furosemide. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all racetrack veterinarians to develop an evidence-based comprehensive medical and stable management plan to minimize the incidence and degree of EIPH commonly associated with high-speed exercise, consistent with the medication rules of the jurisdictions in which they practice. The AAEP strongly advocates for research and the development of new strategies including, but not limited to, training methods, nutritional management, genetics, and environmental modifications, to assist in improving respiratory health and mitigating the effects of EIPH in training and racing horses.
  • The AAEP strongly recommends continued research in determining guidelines for withdrawal intervals that allow for the responsible and ethical use of medication in training and racing horses. 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.

Approved by AAEP board of directors in 2020. 

Resource Type

  • Position Statements


  • Horses
  • Medication
  • Racing
  • Thoroughbred Horses

Publish Date

January 1, 2020