The American Association of Equine Practitioners has spent many hours over the past year getting ready for the Dec. 4 medication summit that will be part of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program's Symposium on Racing.
"We hope for the first time to bring together key stakeholders in the racing industry to specifically discuss racehorse medication," said Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, 2001 president of the AAEP. "Racehorse medication is not just a veterinary issue. It affects everyone in racing."
He added that the AAEP members wanted to take an active role specifically in addressing the topic of raceday medication. "There are misconceptions about the role of the veterinarian in this issue," McIlwraith said. "Veterinarians should be providing expertise for medication issues in the racehorse, but in some cases, the industry is making decisions without veterinary input."
This year's AAEP racing forum meeting was surprisingly congenial compared to the last few years, which were marked by heated debates over issues such as medication. McIlwraith said the AAEP is standing by its medication policy, first written in 1983 and revised in 2000. It states in part that that AAEP's policy on racehorse medication is driven by the ideal of improving the health and welfare of the hose and is aimed at providing the best health care for the horse while ensuring the integrity of racing.
One veterinarian, Jerry Johnson of Kentucky, voiced an opinion that he said was from himself and some of his colleagues that the membership of the AAEP should have been more involved in these issues before a summit was held. "I think this summit is on the immature side," said Johnson. "I feel we (veterinarians) should have had our house in order before we started into this summit."
California veterinarian and former AAEP President Rick Arthur said, "This summit is late; it's not immature. It's not before its time. We should have done this a long time ago. I'm impressed we can get this group together and sit down and discuss these issues."
Arthur stressed that the industry must try and get a consensus on medication issues.
Veterinarian Tom Brokken said there are medication issues that veterinarians "struggle with every day. If you practice in several jurisdictions, it becomes difficult to control your trainers and owners."