Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International

Anne M. Eberhardt

RCI to Consider Horses-in-Training Rules

The proposal stems from need to identify racehorses that could be at risk.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International is considering rules to govern racehorses in training in an attempt to identify whether they are at risk for injury.

The proposal stems in part from discussions at the July 8-9 Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit. Speakers at the event said it is vital that owners and trainers have the information necessary to identify at-risk horses.

Under the proposal, regulatory agencies that license people in the horse racing industry would expand their authority to include horses, effectively extending jurisdiction over equines in training.

Congress and the United States Food and Drug Administration have authorized almost every approved drug on the market for direct or indirect use in a horse based upon the professional judgment of a veterinarian. With the veterinary regulatory policy of 21 states requiring the issuance of a written prescription upon client request in lieu of direct veterinary administration, legitimate questions exist as to whether drugs are being used beyond their intended purpose, RCI officials said.

"The purpose of this effort is not to assess the propriety of veterinary treatment or cite licensees for medication rule violations, but to foster a dialogue between owners, trainers, veterinarians, and regulators about the health of the horse in making a determination as to whether a horse is plagued with a condition that might require placement on the veterinarian's list to be excluded from competition," RCI president Ed Martin said.

"This would obviously need a tremendous amount of work and industry dialogue," Martin said. "We have a collective moral responsibility to our horses to do whatever we can to identify those who may be at risk. This is an idea worthy of consideration."

During its meeting the week of July 28 in Southern California, RCI also will address the use of multiple non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and reciprocity for stewards' and vets' list between the U.S. and Canada.