Commend Crackdown on Horse Drugging at Competitions


Target: United States Equestrian Federation

Goal: Commend the United State Equestrian Federation for cracking down on horse drugging at competitions

The United States Equestrian Federation has come under fire for not doing enough to stop drugging at competitions. Drugging to enhance performance, especially in the Hunter ring, where a slow, easy, way of going is desirable, has become a major issue at horse shows in the past few years.

Recently, however, United States Equestrian Federation has passed a rule at their mid year meeting that all injections must be administered by a licensed veterinarian, which had not been the case in the past. The rule stated:  “No injectable substances may be administered to any horse or pony within 12 hours prior to competing, with the following three exceptions…” The three exceptions are: intravenous fluids for dehydration, the use of procaine penicillin as an antibiotic, and dexamethasone for treatment of hives. The three exceptions must be given at least six hours prior to the start of competition and must be administered by a veterinarian. If the medications are given between six and 12 hours of competition, a medication form must be filed.

This rule is a great step forward for the problem of drugging. Before the rule change, supposedly guilty trainers could say that what was in the injection they gave the horse was not on the forbidden substance list. For some drugs, there was no way to tell they were injected. With the passage of this rule, trainers who inject a horse are automatically guilty, since it is illegal to inject a horse, no matter what was in the needle.

“I know we’re going to see completely covered grooming stalls,” Bill Moroney, president of United States Hunter Jumper Association and vice president of the national affiliates council of USEF stated. “We’re not going to be able to stop that. It’s going to be ludicrous when you see it. But there’s an awareness out there now that when that happens, someone’s going to say, ‘That barn has a completely covered grooming stall. Maybe I don’t want my horse in that barn.’ There’s going to be some in-the-field figuring it out that’s going to have to go on. But does this rule benefit us as sport even though it does have some potential issues that exist? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? What can we do to overcome as many negatives as possible?”

Many owners have claimed ignorance to the fact that their horse was drugged to compete. With this rule, and completely covered grooming stalls, the owners will get a clue that the barn may not be on the up and up. The new rule increases awareness from the entire horse show community and will hopefully help to put an end to drugging by supporting “clean” trainers.

Another rule was also passed at the mid-year meeting. It makes mandatory the reporting of a horse or pony’s collapse. This rule will also help to crack down on drugging, since many substances make the horse feel woozy or not entirely aware. Some substances, especially when given in overdose, will make a horse collapse as it hits the bloodstream. As someone stated at the meeting: “Apparently healthy horses do not just fall down. There is a reason.” This rule was sparked by the horse Parkland’s collapse at a major horse show.

The United States Equestrian Federation is clearly trying to make changes in the horse show world. These rules make a big difference in the ease to drug and get away with it. Now horse owners and competitors alike will know which trainers are “clean” and which are cheating. Hopefully, this will lead to a cleaner sport down the road. Commend the United States Equestrian Federation for making these rule changes to help competing horses.


Dear United States Equestrian Federation,

Thank you for passing the rules to make injections illegal unless given by a vet and making reporting a collapse mandatory at the mid-year meeting. These rules will make a difference in the horse show community’s ignorance of the drugging going on around them, and will make the number of horse deaths and injuries decrease.

Making injections illegal is a big step towards a cleaner sport. Hopefully, this alone will go a long way towards preventing collapses, but making people report a collapse will also go a long way towards stopping drugging. With your federation’s watchful eye on the barn of the collapsed horse, it will hopefully discourage others from “drugging to win.” I commend you for making this big step for the horses’ welfare.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: carterse via Flickr

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