AAEP Guidelines Address Racehorse Care

The American Association of Equine Practitioners released guidelines Oct. 28 for veterinarians who treat racehorses. The document, “Clinical Guidelines for Veterinarians Practicing in a Pari-Mutuel Environment,” promotes medical practices the AAEP believes place the appropriate emphasis on the health, safety, and welfare of the racehorse.

The central focus of the guidelines is the practice of treating a horse based on the entry date for its next race. All medical treatment of the racehorse should be based on a veterinary diagnosis with appropriate time allowed for a follow-up evaluation to ensure the horse is recovered before it races again. Entry date should not be the primary factor when evaluating a horse’s need for medical care.

“Our purpose is to reinforce sound medical principles within the unique environment of racing,” said Dr. Nat White, AAEP president. “As horse racing continues its pursuit of increased safety, we understand the need for us, as veterinarians, to examine our role in medication usage and medical treatment. These guidelines affirm the already excellent medical care provided by many veterinarians.”

In addition to medication, the guidelines address the use of therapies such as shockwave therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  Also included are recommendations for maintaining medical records and changing the current racetrack veterinary business model to one which bases billing on professional services rendered, rather than the dispensing or administration of medication. The guidelines will be updated as research provides new data about the medical care of the racehorse.

The clinical guidelines document was developed by the AAEP Racing Committee, a group comprised of private racetrack practitioners, regulatory veterinarians, and veterinary specialists. Dr. Scott Palmer of Clarksburg, N.J., and Dr. Foster Northrop of Louisville, Ky., serve as chair and vice chair, respectively. 

“While the guidelines were written for veterinarians, we hope our recommendations will focus the attention of trainers and owners on the ‘entry date’ dilemma,” Palmer explained. “The racehorse is going to have the most success and be its healthiest whenever the owner, trainer, and veterinarian are communicating openly and making decisions as a team. Transparency and integrity within this relationship reinforces good medical practice.”

The clinical guidelines are available at www.aaep.org/white_papers.htm. For more information, contact Sally Baker, AAEP director of marketing and public relations, at (859) 233-0147 or sbaker@aaep.org.

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