Lets take this blog to the next level

If you have a photo of crappy show riding, know of a jerkwad trainer or judge, or someone in the show world that is an abusive piece of shit then send the info to me. This blog is not anti-showing, it's anti-abuse. So there is no truth to the claims from the TWH, ASB, western pleasure and dressage zombies that I'm trying to shut showing down. Instead I'm trying to make showing more honest and to get abusive practices out of the showring! Email me at shameinthehorseshowring@gmail.com

I have a request for my readers: If you have successfully rehabbed a show horse, or gotten a rescue and taken it on to a show career then let me know, I'd love to feature you here!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Drugging, it's not just for racehorses anymore!

The stock horse show industry pisses me off for a number of reasons. The first being that they took a perfectly good product, the stock horse, and turned it into an artificially moving robot. They ride horses too young, which no self-respecting real horseman would do. They use bits and equipment that prove they don’t know shit about how a horse’s mind works.

But the worst thing they do is allowing a scope of drug use that would make an LA crack whore cackle with glee. They can pretend all they want they allow the drugs to make things better for the horse, but that is a load of bullshit. The best thing for the horse is for him to stay home and be treated in a familiar and quiet environment. It is not being stuffed into a trailer and hauled all over chasing points for some greedy asshole. Let’s look at the drugs the stock horse industry deems necessary in order to keep horses in the ring.

Phenylbutazone: AQHA, ApHC, APHA
Diclofenac (Surpass) AQHA, ApHC
Flunixin AQHA, ApHC, APHA
Ketoprofen AQHA, ApHC, APHA
Meclofenamic Acid: AQHA, ApHC, APHA
Naproxen: AQHA, ApHC, APHA
Dexamethasone: AQHA, ApHC
Acetazolamide: AQHA, ApHC*, APHA*
Furosemide or Lasix: AQHA , ApHC, APHA
Isoxsuprine : AQHA, APHA
Omeprazole: AQHA, ApHC
Lidocaine/Mepivicaine: AQHA, ApHC, APHA
Firocoxib (Equioxx): ApHC

A form is not required for Phenylbutazone, Diclofenac (Surpass), Flunixin, Ketoprofen, Meclofenamic Acid, Naproxen, Eltenac, Acetazolamide, Furosemide or Lasix, Isoxsuprine and Dexamethasone to be used. In other words, you can needle up and don’t need to notify anyone.

*May only be administered to horses documented through DNA testing from a sample that has also been tested to verify parentage, to be positive (N/H or H/H) for HYPP (Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis) and such HYPP status must be noted on registration documents.

Looks like AQHA is the over all winner for drug use allowances. ApHC is a close second, and that is a recent change. Up until a year ago the ApHC had the strictest drug rules short of the NATRC. Now they are just as bad as the other abusive organizations that care more for the show ring than the horse.

The Pinto Assocation takes an odd stance. This is what their rulebook says:

1. A Pinto shall not be shown in any class at a show recognized by the PtHA if the Pinto has been administered, in any manner, any prohibited substance. A prohibited substance is defined as any stimulant, depressant, tranquilizer or local anesthetic which may affect the performance of an animal (stimulants and depressants are defined as medications which stimulate or depress the circulatory, respiratory, central or peripheral nervous system). Also prohibited are any drugs, regardless of how harmless or innocuous they might be, which may interfere with the detection of the aforementioned drugs.

That looks good, looks like they are taking a stand against drugs. But the next paragraph says differently:

2. The full use of modern therapeutic measures for improvement and protection of the health of the horse, including the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is permitted, unless the drug given also may stimulate or depress the circulatory, respiratory, or central or peripheral nervous systems.

Okay, so you can use drugs as long as you say it’s for the health of the horse. Chickenshits! Just ban the damn things and be done with it.

Oddly enough North American Trail Riders Conference, which hosts the sport with the toughest and fittest horses, requires that no drugs can be used at all. (ntrca web address)

Their rulebook states: A horse shall not be allowed in competition while under the influence of medication except as indicated above. Prohibited medications are not limited to but shall include any stimulant, depressant, anti-inflammatory agent, local anesthetic, tranquilizer, general pain killer, or drug which could affect the performance or well being of the horse and any substance that would mimic or mask said medication.

Ironic huh? Horses that canter slowly around the ring, maybe for 20 minutes during a class, get to use all kinds of drugs, but horses that work for 50 miles in all kinds of weather can’t even use bute. Could this be why Arabs, and not AQHAs, dominate NATRC? Could this be why the main stock horse breeds are not superior distance trail animals? The prevalence of drugs that are used to treat foot and leg injuries is proof that breed organization are promoting unsound conformations for the show ring.
Let’s look at what these drugs do.

Phenylbutazone: Pain relief from infections and musculoskeletal disorders including sprains, overuse injuries, tendinitis, arthralgias, arthritis, and laminitis. Like other NSAIDs, acts directly on musculoskeletal tissue to control inflammation, thereby reducing secondary inflammatory damage, alleviating pain, and restoring range of motion. Does not cure musculoskeletal ailments or work well on colic pain. Reduction of fevers. Antipyretic qualities may mask other symptoms; therefore, should not be administered for this purpose unless a veterinarian has concluded that the horse would not be able to eat or drink without its use or that the fever might hinder the horse's recovery. Side effects of phenylbutazone are similar to that of other NSAIDs. Overdose or prolonged use can cause gastrointestinal ulcers, blood dyscrasia, kidney damage, oral lesions, and internal hemorrhage, especially pronounced in young, ill, or stressed horses. Effects of gastrointestinal damage include edema of the legs and belly secondary to leakage of blood proteins into the intestines, resulting in decreased appetite, excessive thirst, weight loss, weakness, and in advanced stages, kidney failure and death.

Diclofenac (Surpass)is used for musculoskeletal complaints, especially arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, spondylarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis), and pain management. Side Effects include: Gastrointestinal complaints are most often noted. The development of ulceration and/or bleeding requires immediate termination of treatment with diclofenac. Liver damage occurs infrequently, and is usually reversible. Hepatitis may occur rarely without any warning symptoms and may be fatal. Patients with osteoarthritis more often develop symptomatic liver disease than patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Liver function should be monitored regularly during long-term treatment. Renal Failure studies in Pakistan showed that diclofenac caused acute kidney failure in vultures when they ate the carcasses of animals that had recently been treated with it (see below at Ecological problems). Species and individual humans that are drug sensitive are initially assumed to lack genes expressing specific drug detoxification enzymes. NSAIDs "are associated with adverse renal [kidney] effects caused by the reduction in synthesis of renal prostaglandins" in sensitive persons or animal species, and potentially during long term use in non-sensitive persons if resistance to side effects decreases with age. Unfortunately this side effect can't be avoided merely by using a COX-2 selective inhibitor.

Flunixin is an NSAID, analgesic, and antipyretic used in horses. Flunixin is mainly used for colic pain, muscle pain, and joint disease, as well as to alleviate fevers and pain, and prevent endotoxemia. It is also effective in injuries of the eye. Flunixin should not be given for more than five days. Like most NSAIDs it can produce gastrointestinal side effects if the drug is given in high doses or over several days. Side effects: GI ulceration is the most common side effect, especially in the animal's large colon or stomach, and is most likely to occur if the drug is given for a prolonged period. Other side effects include kidney damage and bleeding problems. It should be used with caution in horses with kidney or liver disease. Flunixin does not treat the underlying problem causing the fever or pain, only the symptoms.

Ketoprofen is one of the propionic acid class of NSAIDS with analgesic and antipyretic effects. It acts by inhibiting the body's production of prostaglandin. Side effects include gastrointestinal ulcers, drop in red blood cell count (a result of GI bleeding), and rarely kidney damage, protein loss, and bleeding disorders. It should therefore be used with caution in horses with liver or kidney disease, or gastrointestinal problems. Additionally, it should not be used in horses allergic to aspirin.

Meclofenamic Acid is a drug used for joint and muscular pain. It inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins. Like aspirin, Meclofenamic Acid has been demonstrated to reduce the cardiovascular and respiratory effects of experimentally induced anaphylaxis in ponies and calves by its antagonistic effects at high concentrations on histamine, kinins, and prostaglandins. It also has a transient effect on platelet aggregation, but unlike aspirin, does not appear to affect bleeding times. Side effects include hematologic changes (decreased hematocrit/PCV) and GI effects (buccal erosions, diarrhea, colic, anorexia, changes in stool consistency) have been reported. The diarrheal and colic reactions may be more likely in horses that have a heavy infestation of bots (Gasterophilus sp.) With chronic therapy, decreases in plasma protein concentrations may occur.

Naproxen is an NSAID commonly used for the reduction of moderate to severe pain, fever, inflammation and stiffness caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, and the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Naproxen can inhibit the excretion of sodium and lithium. Extreme care must be taken by those who use this drug along with lithium supplements. Naproxen is also not recommended for use with NSAIDs of the salicylate family (Aspirin) (drugs may reduce each other's effects) or with anticoagulants (may increase risk of bleeding). Naproxen preparations containing sodium are not recommended for use in patients with sodium-sensitive hypertension, due to potential adverse effects on blood pressure in this small subset of hypertensive patients. In August 2006, the Journal Birth Defects Research Part B published results indicating that pregnant women who take NSAIDs including naproxen in the first trimester run an increased risk of having a child with congenital birth defects, particularly heart anomalies.

Eltenac For use in the alleviation of inflammation associated with musculoskeletal disorders and controlof post-operative swelling, oedema and endotoxaemia in horses. Side effects are the same as the other things that reduce inflammation and swelling.

Dexamethasone is a potent synthetic member of the glucocorticoid class of steroid hormones. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant. Its potency is about 20-30 times that of hydrocortisone and 4-5 times of prednisone. Side effects include stomach upset, increased sensitivity to stomach acid to the point of ulceration of esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Osteoporosis under long term treatment, pathologic fractures. Muscle atrophy, negative protein balance. Elevated liver enzymes, fatty liver degeneration. Cushingoid (syndrome resembling hyperactive adrenal cortex with increase in adiposity, hypertension, bone demineralization, etc.) Depression of the adrenal gland is usually seen, if more than 1.5 mg daily are given for more than three weeks to a month. Hypertension, fluid and sodium retention, edema, worsening of heart insufficiency (due to mineral corticoid activity) Increased intraocular pressure, certain types of glaucoma, cataract (serious clouding of eye lenses). Dermatologic Acne, allergic dermatitis, dry scaly skin, ecchymoses and petechiae, erythema, impaired wound-healing, increased sweating, rash, striae, suppression of reactions to skin tests, thin fragile skin, thinning scalp hair, urticaria.

Isoxsuprine is most commonly used to treat hoof-related problems in the horse, most commonly for laminitis and navicular disease, as its effects as a vasodilator are thought to increase circulation within the hoof to help counteract the problems associated with these conditions. Side effects include an increase in the animal's heart rate, cause changes in blood pressure, and irritate the GI tract. It should therefore be used with caution if conbined with other drugs that affect blood pressure, such as sedatives and anesthetic drugs. Because it is a vasodilator, it should not be used in horses that are bleeding, or in mares following foaling. Isoxiprine is also a drug masker and can cover up the presence of other drugs in the horse’s system.

Lidocaine/Mepivicaine is a common local anesthetic and antiarrhythmic drug. Lidocaine is used topically to relieve itching, burning and pain from skin inflammations, injected as a dental anesthetic, and in minor surgery. Side effects include central nervous system (CNS) and cardiovascular effects – CNS effects usually occur at lower blood plasma concentrations and additional cardiovascular effects present at higher concentrations, though cardiovascular collapse may also occur with low concentrations. CNS effects may include CNS excitation (nervousness, tingling around the mouth, tinnitus, tremor, dizziness, blurred vision, seizures) followed by depression, and with increasingly heavier exposure: drowsiness, loss of consciousness, respiratory depression and apnoea). Cardiovascular effects include hypotension, bradycardia, arrhythmias, and/or cardiac arrest – some of which may be due to hypoxemia secondary to respiratory depression. ADRs associated with the use of intravenous lidocaine are similar to toxic effects from systemic exposure above. These are dose-related and more frequent at high infusion rates. Common ADRs include: headache, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, visual disturbances, tinnitus, tremor, and/or paraesthesia. Infrequent ADRs associated with the use of lidocaine include: hypotension, bradycardia, arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, muscle twitching, seizures, coma, and/or respiratory depression.

Firocoxib (Equioxx) is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic drug. It belongs to the general class of drugs known as NSAIDs. The most common side effects are refusal of food and vomiting or bloat, but it is also associated with gastrointestinal, kidney or liver side effects. These are usually mild, but may be serious.

The two following drugs just piss me off. Neither should be allowed in the show ring because they serve no purpose beyond keeping horses unfit to show on the competition trail. Lasix and Acetazolimide are both drug maskers. They are both banned by the World Anti-doping League for good reason.

Furosemide or Lasix is a loop diuretic used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and edema. Side effects as with many diuretics, it can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, including loss of potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. It is especially important to prevent potassium loss, as it can cause serious problems. The drug should therefore not be used in horses that are dehydrated or experiencing kidney failure. It should be used with caution in horses with liver problems or electrolyte abnormalities. Overdose may lead to dehydration, change in drinking patterns and urination, seizures, GI problems, kidney damage, lethargy, collapse, and coma. Furosemide should be used with caution when combined with corticosteroids (as this increases the risk of electrolyte imbalance), aminoglycoside antibiotics (increases risk of kidney or ear damage), and trimethoprim sulfa (causes decreased platelet count). It may also cause interactions with anesthesics, so its use should be related to the veterinarian if the animal is going into surgery, and it decreases the kidney's ability to excrete aspirin, so dosages will need to be adjusted if combined with that drug. Furosemide may cause digoxin toxicity due to hypokalemia. The drug is best not used during pregnancy or in a lactating mare, as it has been shown to be passed through the placenta and milk in studies with other species. It should not be used in horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (Cushings). One of the most ironic things about furosemide use is that is requires you to stay out of the sun or you’ll suffer adverse effects. So using it, and racing or showing in the open means you are subjecting your horse to more problems and going against the recommendations of the drug’s use.

Acetazolamide is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor that is used to treat HYPP (Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis)a genetic defect traceable to the Quarter Horse stallion Impressive. Acetazolamide is available as a generic drug and is also used as a diuretic. Side effects include numbness and tingling, and taste alterations (parageusia). Some may also experience blurred vision but this usually disappears shortly after stopping the medication. Acetazolamide also increases the risk of developing calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate kidney stones. Horse will experience more frequent urination as a result of using acetazolamide and should drink more fluids than usual to prevent dehydration. Acetazolamide prolongs the effects of amphetamines and related drugs as well as masking the presence of other drugs. It is also a mild sedative and can be used to create a lethargic horse. (Western Pleasure comes to mind)

This is the only drug, besides bute that any registry should allow:
Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor used in the treatment of dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease (PUD), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD/GERD). Some of the most frequent side effects of omeprazole (experienced by over 1% of those taking the drug) are headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and dizziness, although in clinical trials the incidence of these effects with omeprazole was mostly comparable to that found with placebo. Omeprazole treats ulcers, which can happen from something as routine as weaning or being hauled to the vet. It does not mask other injuries and does not improve, or enhance, performance.

I want to make it clear that I am not against the therapuetic use of drugs for treating horses. I am against the use of drugs to keep an unfit animal in the show ring. There is no reason that any type of drug masker should be approved. There is no reason that a drug that is specific to the treatment of a genetic defect should be approved. Acetzolamide bolstered the halter industry and kept horses that otherwise could not show traveling and being subjected to stress.I not against giving a horse a few grams of bute to get over a long trailer ride. Or treating an older horse that is stiff from mild arthritis. This is no longer the case. The poor breeding practices in the stock horse industry that make these drugs necessary tell us how little the organizations care for the animals they are supposed to protect.

Sources for drug information include The Horse.com, Wikipedia, Zoology Care, ApHC, AQHA, USEF as well as various veterinary manuals and publications.