AHSA Meeting Report

At the 84th annual meeting of the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA), the welfare of the horse was a recurring theme. Members debated issues affecting competition horses, and expanded the involvement of horse breeders in the association.

AHSA includes in its mission statement, “To protect horses by inspecting and testing to determine the use of forbidden drugs and other cruel practices.” The AHSA’s drug testing program was the subject of a General Assembly, with questions submitted about the drug testing and possible effects of drugs on performance. A panel of veterinarians, attorneys, and association officials addressed challenges from the audience and from representatives of other show organizations.

Questions focused on the presence of environmental contaminants in drug tests, the differences between therapeutic and subtherapeutic effects, and the value of “split” samples. Dr. George Maylin, Director of the

AHSA Drug Testing and Research Laboratory, responded to concerns related to the concentration of drugs in samples, addressing questions about the possibilities of a show horse testing positive for cocaine due to inadvertent contact with humans who handle or use the drug.

Dr. John Lengel, Assistant Executive Director, Drug and Medication, reported that there is an extremely minor incidence of positive tests at the AHSA Laboratory. “Since 1995, we’ve collected and tested more than 22,000 blood samples, and more than 15,000 urine samples. Samples from 11 horses in that period of time have been found to contain metabolites of cocaine.” He added that eight tested positive for reserpine which is used in humans for the treatment of hypertension, mental disorder, and tensions.

New committees have been established for owners and breeders of show horses. Each committee of 15 will include representatives across the AHSA’s range of 25 breeds and disciplines. The Owners Committee will promote the interests of those who own and exhibit show horses. The Breeders Committee will address issues affecting those who breed horses for sport, focusing on education and publicity.

AHSA now recognizes breeders for the development and improvement of show horses. In 2000, Mrs. Thomas M. Waller received the Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeder’s Cup. Waller is a lifetime breeder of successful hunters at Tanrackin Farm in Bedford Hills, N.Y.

AHSA published a report on its 1999 Special Summit meeting on show footing. The Show Standards committee asked officials and exhibitors to rate the quality of footing in schooling and competition arenas. Of 170 submitted forms, ratings of footing in multiple arenas were 73 excellent, 47 good, 30 fair, 27 poor, and 13 unacceptable.

Alan Balch was re-elected as President of AHSA, which has more than 70,000 members and recognizes more than 2,600 competitions nationwide. AHSA is the National Equestrian Federation of the United States.

About the Author

Charlene Strickland

Award-winning writer Charlene Strickland lives in Bosque Farms, N.M. She has published 8 books and over 600 magazine articles, and is a member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists.

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