Ask Your Veterinarian Presented By Kentucky Performance Products: Pre-Sale Medication Regs 'A Good Change' - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Ask Your Veterinarian Presented By Kentucky Performance Products: Pre-Sale Medication Regs ‘A Good Change’

Veterinarians at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital answer your questions about sales and healthcare of Thoroughbred auction yearlings, weanlings, 2-year-olds and breeding stock. If you have a question for a veterinarian, email us info at

QUESTION: What is the veterinary perspective on the new pre-sale medication restrictions in force at public auctions in the United States?

DR. BART BARBER: From this veterinarian's perspective, the changes that the sales companies have made are positive. The limitations that have been imposed add a degree of confidence to buyers while still allowing sellers and veterinarians to fully treat horses as needed with only a few exceptions.

Dr. Bart Barber

There are some subtle differences but the changes for both sales companies are very similar. One of the new rules that each have applied is that only one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and one corticosteroid may be used. There can be no stacking of drugs within the classes. There are lots of drugs in each of these categories and they have similar actions and effects within each class. That said, there are differences that make drugs in each of those classes superior for treating specific conditions. For instance, one NSAID is preferred to treat pain associated with colic while another is preferred for musculoskeletal pain. Certain steroids are better suited for treating allergic reactions while others are best at treating head trauma. The point is that there are reasons why one NSAID or corticosteroid is chosen over another and why there are several different choices.

In the rare case that a horse has already been treated with one of these medications for a specific condition and another condition arises for which another medication in the same class is needed, decisions will need to be made. First and foremost the horse will be taken care of. It is important to point out that this situation would not automatically disqualify the horse from being sold. A positive test for multiple NSAIDs or corticosteroids merely gives the buyer the right to rescind the sale. The goal of the new regulations is not to limit treating horses appropriately but to limit indiscriminate stacking of NSAIDs and corticosteroids, which is in the best interest of the buyers, the sales process, the industry and, ultimately, the horse. It's a good change. When the situation described above arises, it will be in the best interest of all parties to come together, use good judgment and horsemanship to determine intent, the best interests of the horse, and whether or not the process was compromised. These occasions will likely be rare and I believe that even in these instances we will be able to care for the horses without compromising the intent of the rules.

Bronchodilators, including clenbuterol, have been limited in that they have been completely banned for a time period prior to the sale. There is a potential for abuse of these medications and again this is a positive change to protect the horse. When this change was announced some chose to not use this class of medications in horses at any age, for any condition and I believe that is a mistake. Taking this out of a veterinarian's toolbox for use in foals could have fatal consequences. There are legitimate uses for these medications and they should be used when they are warranted. The sales companies have not limited their use when appropriate for age and condition, they have merely asked for disclosure.

The balancing of allowing for appropriate use and imposing rules to curtail abuse is difficult. In this case it has been well thought out and will benefit all involved.

Dr. Bart Barber, DVM, is a shareholder in Rood and Riddle's veterinary practice and specializes in reproduction, primary and preventative ambulatory care, as well as operations at Rood and Riddle Veterinary Pharmacy.

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