RCI Tightens Model Rule on Shock Wave Therapy

Given the current climate of Thoroughbred racing, it's no surprise that health, safety, and medications were the primary topics of discussion at a meeting of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Rules Committee in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., July 24.

Key items on the agenda were proposed rule changes for the use of safety reins and of safety equipment for assistant starters; for track security and furosemide; and for extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT). Most items were discussed and remanded back to those who proposed them, but changes to the RCI's model rule for ESWT were adopted.

The petition for the rule change regarding ESWT was brought by the Jockeys' Guild and based on jockeys' concerns about the use of the therapy and the potential for horses to break down after being treated with it. An RCI model rule on its use already exists. The Jockeys' Guild petitioned for the RCI to expand its current rule to match the policies of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) as of May 4, 2012.

Specifically, the Guild requested that use of shock wave machines be limited to a designated area and that a log of all treatments be available to the track's official veterinary, stewards, or commission investigation. It also requested that that log be made available to jockeys or their agents so that they can be aware of what treatments a horse has received before accepting a mount on that horse.

ESWT is used to treat a variety of equine ailments to facilitate healing. It can a have a short-term analgesic effect, the Guild said, and they expressed concerned about jockeys accepting mounts on horses that might have been treated with it. The CHRB requires that horses treated with ESWT be placed on a veterinarian's list for 10 days following the treatment.

Dave Basler, the executive director of the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, objected strenuously to posting publicly the names of horses that had received the treatment, arguing that ESWT shouldn't be treated differently from any other therapy a horse receives. He also objected to the horses being placed on a veterinarian's list.

The RCI Rules Committee voted to adopt changes to the model rule stating that horses that receive ESWT would be placed on an ineligible list--not a veterinarian's list--for 10 days and that they would be permitted neither to train nor race during that period. It also voted to recommend that any violation of the RCI's model rule on ESWT use be considered a prohibited practice and be subject to a Class A recommended penalty, which entails a one to three year suspension and a minimum fine of $10,000.

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Teresa Genaro

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