Merger & Medical Outcome at USA Equestrian Annual Meeting

 This year's USA Equestrian (USAE, formerly American Horse Shows Association) Annual Meeting, held in Charlotte, N.C., on Jan. 9-13, 2002, covered numerous topics. While the Drugs and Medications Committee discussed concerns about corticosteroid medication for horses, another forum focused on solving the battle for National Governing Body (NGB) status with the United States Equestrian Team (USET).

For the past few years there has been an ongoing fight between the USET and USAE about how to solve the issue of fulfilling the duties of an NGB. Currently, USAE holds that title, but they share the responsibilities with the USET, which the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) does not allow in its bylaws. The USOC told both organizations in 2000 that only one can be in charge of funding, selecting, promoting, and regulating U.S. interna  tional equestrian teams. The two organizations have since been struggling to solve this problem. At last, at this year's convention a merger proposal was presented. Although the final details for this merger have not been decided, the basic plan is that there will be one equestrian organization with three divisions: a National Division, an International Division, and an Administrative Division.

The umbrella organization (which is now being referred to as NGB Corp) would have 19 members on its super-board of directors, and three sub-boards of directors. The three divisions would then have volunteer trustees on each of their boards. There is also discussion about having a separate outside organization called the USET Foundation, whose sole purpose would be to raise funds for international high-performance activities.

Over the next few months, the details of this new merger will be refined and outlined in more detail. Both the USET and USAE are making an effort to keep their members informed on their web sites: www.uset.org and www.equestrian.org.

Drugs and Medications Forum

Optimal usage of equine medications and ensuring horses' health and well-being was the foundation of all the rules discussed and passed at this year's forum.

Both the Veterinary Committee and Equine Drugs and Medications Committee are concerned about the potential for non-therapeutic use of intra-articular and systemic corticosteroids in horses. Corticosteroids are commonly used to decrease the inflammation that causes pain and swelling following injury.

The committees decided to propose an extraordinary rule change (which will be voted upon by the Executive Committee at an upcoming meeting), which will require the filing of a medication report in connection with any corticosteroid administered by any route during the seven days prior to the horse competing, without the requirement to withdraw the animal from competition after the administration.

The Equine Drugs and Medications Program plans to continue to test horses for corticosteroids (especially dexamethasone, an injectable corticosteroid used often to reduce airway inflammation) in order to gather data and monitor the incidence of their use. The committees also decided to conduct administration studies in order to determine how long corticosteroids remain detectable in equine blood and urine after administration.

The effective date of the rule change would be May 1, 2002. If adopted, trainers and owners would receive warning letters during the first three months the rule is in effect if they fail to comply with the corticosteroid reporting requirements as noted above, and subsequently would be subject to administrative penalties or hearings.

For more information on how the USAE's drug testing program works, read article Quick Find #2760 at www.TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Diana De Rosa

Diana De Rosa is a veteran equestrian photojournalist and reporter. She owns a public relations firm called Press Link. She has covered the past six Summer Olympic Games and every World Equestrian Games and has traveled to over 30 countries writing stories and taking photos.

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