AHSA President Issues Statement On New Drugs And Medications Rule Change

Alan F. Balch, President of the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA), issued a statement today on a new Drugs and Medications rule change proposal now on the table for consideration. The following statement is a result of a special day-long meeting, held May 12, with several AHSA members and industry leaders especially invited because of their particular interest in the Drugs and Medications issue.

One result of the special meeting was the completion of a new rule change proposal (also attached) that will be a subject of discussion at the AHSA Board of Directors meeting next Tuesday, June 2. The Board of Directors meeting will take place at the Marriott Hotel at the Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, Pa., and will be open to all AHSA members and the press beginning at 2pm EDT.

The American Horse Shows Association, as the national equestrian federation of the U.S., is the regulatory body for the Olympic and World Championship equestrian sports - combined driving, dressage, endurance, show jumping, eventing, and vaulting - as well as 18 other breeds and disciplines of competition. As the country's largest multi-breed organization, the AHSA has 67,000 members and recognizes more than 2,600 competitions nationwide each year. It governs all aspects of competition, including educating and licensing all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate at these shows.

AHSA President's Statement to Board of Directors and Rule Change Proposal.

DATE: May 26, 1998
TO: Board of Directors
FROM: Alan F. Balch
SUBJECT: Drugs and Medications Rule Proposals

On Tuesday, May 12, I convened a special day-long meeting of several AHSA members especially invited because of their particular interest in the subject to discuss various proposals pending to change the current Drugs and Medications rules.

I chaired the meeting myself, with Association Secretary Judy Werner as co-chair, and invited veterinarians Duncan Peters (Montana) and Paul McClellan (California) to advise us as objectively as possible on the information we received.

Representing our Drugs and Medications and Veterinary committees were Edward S. Bonnie, Dr. Rick Mitchell, Dr. Kent Allen, Dr. Jack Lowe, Dr. George Maylin, and Dr. John Lengel. Representing the National Hunter/Jumper Council and the "Horsemen's Advisory Committee" were Joe Dotoli, Dr. John Steele, Susan Schoellkopf, and Dr. Scott Bennett.

At the outset of the meeting, we agreed that coming to terms on specific language for a rule change possibly to be adopted as early as the June meeting of the AHSA directors was not our goal. However, we hoped to discuss the areas of past disagreements with the aim of arriving at a consensus on principles which might lead to a more widely supported rule change proposal at our Annual Meeting. Our objective is that the proposal ultimately made should have broad if not universal support, and be effective in the rules as of March 1, 1999.

In general, our concerns centered on two essential principles: protecting the welfare of our horses and insuring fairness of competition. Our candid meeting led to general agreement that horses should only be permitted to compete with more than one NSAID under carefully specified conditions and disclosure requirements, and that we should preserve the AHSA's current prohibition against competition after administration of Bute and Banamine simultaneously. In addition, the administration of a second approved NSAID for competition should only be prescribed by a veterinarian after a physical examination, and be restricted as to quantity. We also agreed that by continually attending to advances in veterinary medicine, and reflecting those advances in a constant review and updating of the applicable rules, we might well be able to avoid the divisive debate in the future which has engaged us over the last year or so.

We unanimously agreed—despite any perceptions to the contrary—that the AHSA's commitment to reasonable therapeutic medication, as compared to a so-called "no-medication rule," is firm. We seek a benchmark medication policy, beyond which certain breeds or disciplines might seek a more restrictive but not less restrictive standard, at their individual option. Further, we all agreed that any medication rule is an inadequate substitute for the need to continue unrelenting attention on improving show standards in such areas as footing and other competition conditions.

Enclosed is a draft, based on these discussions, of a possible unified rule change proposal, to be considered by the membership at large as well as the Drugs and Medications and Veterinary committees. Please give it your close attention, as it will be discussed at the June meeting in as much detail as necessary. Following that meeting and adoption of any suggestions which might be made there, it could become the basis for the educational forums on these matters which will be held across the country prior to the next Annual Meeting in St. Louis. We all felt the need for massive added education. As appropriate in the rule change process, all suggestions for improvement would be considered by the relevant committees.

Finally, I'm pleased to report to you that our discussions were entirely amicable and collegial, and the sport was well-served by all who participated. I would go so far as to say that the session was a model for how we should all approach the many contentious issues we will continue to confront as the sport grows and continues to become more diverse and complicated.

Extraordinary Rule Change Proposal

To be effective on March 1, 1999.

Article 410. Drugs and Medications, The Therapeutic Substance Provisions.

Amend Article 410.4 as follows:

4. Restrictions concerning the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are as follows:

(a) No more than two nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are permitted to be present in the plasma or urine sample of the horse/pony (Article 411 does not apply); exception: salicylic acid.

(b) The maximum permissible plasma concentration of phenylbutazone is 15.0 micrograms per milliliter.

(c) The maximum permissible plasma concentration of flunixin is 1.0 micrograms per milliliter.

(d) If both phenylbutazone and flunixin are present in the same plasma sample, no more than one may be present in a concentration which exceeds a trace level. The maximum permissible trace level of phenylbutazone is 2.0 micrograms per milliliter and of flunixin is 0.2 micrograms per milliliter.

(a) The maximum permitted plasma concentration of phenylbutazone is 15.0 micrograms per milliliter, and the maximum permitted trace level is 2.0 micrograms per milliliter.

(b) The maximum permitted plasma concentration of flunixin is 1.0 micrograms per milliliter, and the maximum permitted trace level is 0.2 micrograms per milliliter.

(c) The maximum permitted plasma concentration of ketoprofen is 40.0 nanograms per milliliter, and the maximum permitted trace level is 10.0 nanograms per milliliter.

(d) The maximum permitted plasma concentration of meclofenamic acid is 1.0 micrograms per milliliter, and the maximum trace level is 0.1 micrograms per milliliter.

(e) The maximum permitted plasma concentration of naproxen is 20.0 micrograms per milliliter, and the maximum permitted trace level is 2.0 micrograms per milliliter.

(f) Not more than two of the substances listed in (a) through (e) above are permitted to be present in the same plasma or urine sample (Article 411 does not apply).

(g) Whenever two of the substances listed in (a) through (e) above are present in the same plasma sample, not more than one is to exceed its maximum permitted trace level (Article 411 does not apply).

(h) Any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug not listed in (a) through (e) above is forbidden to be present in the plasma or urine sample (Article 411 does not apply); exception salicylic acid.

*Old rules are underlined.

Rule Change Proposal

To be effective on March 1, 1999.

Article 410. Drugs and Medications, The Therapeutic Substance Provisions.

Add new section 5 as follows:

5. Requirements for the therapeutic use of two NSAIDs are as follows:

(a) Any NSAID not listed in Article 410.4 (a) through (e) above is forbidden (Article 411 does not apply).

(b) Not more than two NSAIDs are permitted to be present in the same plasma or urine sample (Article 411 does not apply).

(c) Phenylbutazone and flunixin are permitted to be present in a plasma sample only as provided for in Articles 410.4 a., b., and g. above (Article 411 does not apply).

(d) In any instance two NSAIDs are present in a plasma sample, in a combination other than phenylbutazone and flunixin, the concentration of each must not exceed X* times the maximum permitted plasma concentration specified for its therapeutic use in Article 410.4 (a) through (e) above (Article 411 does not apply).

(e) Any horse/pony competing with two NSAIDs in its sample(s) as specified in (a) through (e) above is required to have the following prior to competing:

  1. A physical examination performed by a licensed veterinarian who must be a member of the AHSA and AAEP.

  2. A Veterinary Authorization Form(s) (VAF) completed and filed with the Steward or Technical Delegate prior to competing and within an hour after administration or one hour after the Steward/Technical Delegate returns to duty if administration is at a time other than during competition hours. All other information required on the VAF must also be recorded. VAFs will be available on request from the AHSA at all recognized horse shows and events and will be mailed to all AHSA member veterinarians.

  3. The VAF must include findings of the physical examination including the specific diagnosis warranting the use of two NSAIDs instead of one NSAID and that said horse/pony is fit to compete in the competition in which entered.

  4. If the NSAIDs are not administered by the veterinarian who performed the physical examination, or a veterinarian is not available, they may only be administered by the trainer designated on the VAF who is a member of the AHSA pursuant to the advice and direction of the examining veterinarian.

  5. A VAF must be filed at the first horse show or event at which the horse/pony competes after the examination and is valid for a maximum of thirty days from the date of examination (no copies, only originals are accepted). After thirty days a new physical examination must be performed in accordance with the Article and a Veterinary Authorization Form completed in its entirety.

  6. Failure to comply with any or all of the requirements set forth in (1) through (5) above is a violation of the rules and can subject both the trainer and the veterinarian performing the physical examination to penalties under Article 412 and/or Article 707.

Renumber old Articles 410.5-7 to be Articles 410.6-8

*Research on the combinations of NSAIDs has not been completed; a number will be inserted for "X" when it is.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners