AAEP White Paper: Putting the horse first in racing (US)

Cross-posted from The Thoroughbred Times
— Article entitled “Veterinarians make safety, welfare recommendations”

AS INDUSTRY LEADERS continue to emphasize equine safety and welfare, the American Association of Equine Practitioners has issued guidelines.

The AAEP on Monday released a white paper, “Putting the Horse First: Veterinary Recommendations for the Safety and Welfare of the Thoroughbred Racehorse.” It offers veterinary guidance on issues challenging the racing industry and racehorse care.

The paper focuses on four points: the racing business model, the veterinarian-owner-trainer relationship, medication, and the public perception of racing. The paper recommends changes to the structure of claiming races and medication usage in horses intended for sale at public auction.

“As an organization with the primary mission of protecting the health and welfare of the horse, the safety of the racehorse is one of our highest priorities,” said AAEP President Harry Werner, V.M.D. “This is a critical time for the racing industry, and we join the efforts of other groups who are determined to make improvements for the health of our equine athletes.”

The white paper calls for:

* Continued identification and implementation of procedures and strategies that will significantly reduce the injury rate of horses.

* Standardization and enhancement of pre-race and post-race veterinary examinations with mandatory cross-jurisdictional sharing of information.

* Universal adoption in all racing jurisdictions of the Association of Racing Commissioners International model medication rules that prohibit the administration of race-day medication except for furosemide.

* Increased racetrack security to ensure compliance by all racing participants with medication rules.

* Complete transparency in the veterinarian, trainer, and owner relationship in all aspects of health care decisions.

* Development in all racing jurisdictions of a program for the rehabilitation, retraining, and adoption of horses whose racing careers have ended.

The white paper was developed by the AAEP’s Racing Task Force, a group comprised of private racetrack practitioners, regulatory veterinarians, and veterinary specialists. Scott Palmer, V.M.D., of Clarksburg, New Jersey, and Foster Northrop, D.V.M. of Louisville, served as chair and vice chair, respectively.

“Our premise is very simple: What is good for the horse is good for racing,” Palmer said. “In a unique climate of widespread industry commitment to fix what is wrong with racing, veterinarians have made every effort to put the horse first in that process. It is fair to say that particular recommendations will resonate with some individuals and alienate others within the industry. Nonetheless, we’d like to think that if our horses could read this document, they would be pleased.” ThoroughbredTimes.com >>

If you are not a horse and can read, check it out here.

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