Cross-posted from Louisville Courier-Journal
WRITTEN BY GREGORY A HALL
LEXINGTON, KY. — Regulators who have long been focused on potential abuses of medications given to thoroughbreds are turning their attention to a newer worry — improper use of shock wave treatments.
The concern is that extra-corporeal shock wave therapy — which uses high-energy sound waves to speed the repair and healing for various maladies including tendon, ligament and stress fractures — may sometimes be used too close to a race, potentially improving performance but increasing the possibility of injury to horse and rider.
It’s prohibited in Kentucky within 10 days before a race, to give sufficient time for its pain-masking effects to wear off. And the veterinarians who give it at Kentucky tracks and training centers are supposed to report it within 24 hours.
But regulators who want to tighten the rules face challenges, including the fact that there is no test to show if or when the treatment was given — and no good data on how often the therapy is misused.
Dr. Foster Northrop, a veterinarian and member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is exploring new rules for shock therapy, said he has no idea how often it’s abused.
“I hear rumors all the time, but I have no idea if it’s true or not,” Northrop said in an interview earlier this month after the commission’s safety committee took up the issue, adding that he thinks some of the stories may be exaggerated.
But Jeff Johnston, a retired rider who acts as a regional representative for The Jockeys’ Guild trade association, said he fears shock wave abuse is potentially more dangerous than some controversial medications.
“There’s concern among jockeys that shock wave therapy may be masking pain,” Johnston said. “And masking pain could be a detriment and cause serious injury to the horse.” Continue reading >>
— I’ll Have Another . . . shock wave therapy treatment please; by Jane Allin; Tuesday’s Horse; May 14, 2012