Frankly Speaking: Best for All Concerned

racehorsesThe AQHA’s suspension of its Multiple Medication Violation System for racing brings to light the need for an industry-wide medication standard and enforcement program. • Photo by Stacy PigottI am sure that most of you are aware of the many and varied opinions on recent drug policies that involve the horse racing industry, as well as those that concern our show and performance horses. After much thought on this subject and especially after the American Quarter Horse Association’s (AQHA) suspension of the Multiple Medication Violation System as it pertains to Quarter Horse racing, I think our equine industry’s efforts should be pointed in a concerted direction.

Animal welfare issues and the care, custody and control of the equine are the most pressing interests of all horse-based organizations. For horsemen who care about their horses and wish to promote proper welfare of this animal, there is much anxiety concerning the use of performance-enhancing drugs and the abuse of those substances. We, as an industry, cannot continue to exist and prosper unless all stakeholders involved come together and agree on a set of rules. As a united front, we must establish acceptable levels and quality assurance governing the use of medication, and we must follow through with punishments for violations. No longer can it be here and there, hit and miss – we have to set strict standards across the entire spectrum of equine activity in the United States. Now, more than ever, I am convinced that unless an equine medication standard and consistent enforcement program is agreed upon and adopted by all disciplines, states and jurisdictions, we’ll be looking at federal legislation that will address the issue for us.

The equine industry has argued, fussed, fought and resisted a standard drug policy for decades. This dynamic, in and of itself, has caused a ground swell of emotion that has disrupted the progress and promotion of our horse and his stature in the general public’s opinion. It’s a big black eye for our industry! Therefore, we can no longer patiently wait around for inconsistent drug policy to take hold. It’s not something that can happen in starts and fits, in one industry and not the others.

It is incumbent upon all horsemen to rise up and demand a remedy to medication violations – right now!

Right now, as you read this, the Thoroughbred industry and its leadership are crying out for federal legislation to govern all state racing commissions with a standard medication policy that transcends state borders. Thoroughbred people have achieved a great deal of traction in their efforts, and I predict that very soon the feds will be involved in the oversight of Thoroughbred racing across the entire country. Our Quarter Horse racing and show disciplines can’t be far behind.

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