The set of uniform policies developed by four major auction firms – Barretts, Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. (OBS) – took effect beginning with the OBS February select sale of 2-year-olds in training Feb. 17 in Central Florida. The policies address medication, prohibited practices, riding crops, and horse shoes.
“As the first sale under these new guidelines, I thought it went tremendously well,” said Tom Ventura, OBS general manager and director of sales.
However, OBS officials reported that there were five infractions involving misuse of a riding crop during the Feb. 13 under tack show. The five horses involved were from the barns of four different consignors. Ventura declined to identify the horses or their sellers. The fines for the infractions were $500 apiece.
The uniform policies restrict the use of a riding crop. Within an eighth of a mile of the finish line, a rider is prohibited from striking a horse behind the girth and both of the rider’s hands must be holding the reins. A rider also is prohibited from striking a horse in any manner beyond the finish line. However, in situations where the safety of a horse or a rider is in jeopardy, the rider is allowed to control the horse with a riding crop as long as the crop remains in front of the girth.
“There was no real blatant misuse of the riding crop,” Ventura said. "I think that’s something that has improved over the years. Consignors have learned that whipping and driving a horse down the stretch isn’t the proper way to show a horse at its best. For the most part, the infractions were minor, but there were some horses that were hit within an eighth of a mile of the finish, so we needed to enforce the policy. The money will go to a good cause. We haven’t decided on which charity to give it to, but we’ll decide at the end of the 2-year-old (selling) season and distribute it.
“It’s a good policy,” Ventura continued, “but the riders are so accustomed to the way they have been doing things for years that sometimes they’re not really paying attention to exactly where the eighth pole is as they’re riding the horse, taking the riding crop, and hitting it one time. If you watched the videos or watched the horses live, you could see that it was very cleanly run breeze show and I think it’s been that way, for the most part, for the last several years. It’s not a big issue.”
The buyers of four horses sold at the OBS February auction requested that their purchases be tested for exogenous anabolic steroids. As of Feb. 18, OBS had not received the results of those tests. Last year, 21 juveniles sold at the auction were tested, and there were no positives.
“The uniform policies for medication are very close to what we have been operating under in the past,” Ventura said. “We added a restriction on the number of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that could be used (limited to two by the uniform policies), and we added a restriction on corticosteroids (the use of which is limited to one type). There were no issues along those lines.”