Horse racing regulators looking at whether shock wave treatments help performance

Cross-posted from Louisville Courier-Journal
WRITTEN BY GREGORY A HALL

Electrocorporeal shock wave therapy treatment being administered to a horse. Image from ESWT.net.
Electrocorporeal shock wave therapy treatment being administered to a racehorse. Image from ESWT.net.

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 >>

RELATED READING

I’ll Have Another . . . shock wave therapy treatment please; by Jane Allin; Tuesday’s Horse; May 14, 2012

3 thoughts on “Horse racing regulators looking at whether shock wave treatments help performance”

  1. As long as there are no tests to prove when treatment was given, there will most definitely be widespread cheating.

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    1. There is no central racing authority, so it is left to each jurisdiction as to testing. There are not enough “authorities” to test in every instance. Racetrack veterinarians, trainers and therapists have to be relied upon in almost every case. This leaves horses highly vulnerable in the mortal sense.

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      1. So why aren’t the races scheduled so that the right authorities can be there when there is going to be a race? If authorities can not be at the race then it gets canceled; just like that!!! Where are our Animals Rights Groups? Sorry if I sound upset, but I am; just like the rest of us intelligent human beings. What else are these greedy idiots going to come up with?

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