So you find yourself in a tough spot. You are a horse owner, a Groom, a spectator, a trainer, a client and you find out that a horse is being “doped” with performance enhancing (or calming) drugs or questionable supplements. It can happen at shows, it can happen at home. So what do you do?
As a Groom, you may be asked to give horses mediations. Horses need antibiotics, topical meds, anti-inflammatories, all sorts of meds for all sorts of reasons. It’s also not unreasonable for an injured horse to have a sedative added to his routine for his own safety and the safety of anyone who handles the horse. It becomes a gray area when horses are given substances that are not specifically prescribed, are banned from the show ring, or are given under any number of questionable circumstances. Everyone can benefit from knowing about the FEI and USEF medication laws!
FEI Cleansport Database
***As a side note, I personally never inject any horse other than my own with IV or IM medications. There’s a huge liability there if the injections goes sideways (literally and/or figuratively). Horses can suffer irreparable damage and injury if a substance goes into the artery and not the vein. Some medications can also cause horrific damage if injected IM instead or IV, or vice versa. As a Groom, depending on your employment status (employee or independent contractor), you may not be covered by the Employer’s insurance or your own insurance should something go wrong. It’s just not worth it. You can learn more about this can of worms here.***
So what do you do if you find out that horses are being “doped”? I asked the USEF what you can do.
The USEF told me: "For an event that a Groom wishes to report that takes place on USEF licensed competition grounds, they can report the incident directly to the USEF Steward or Technical Delegate. If they wish to remain anonymous, they can call USEF Drugs & Medications at 800-633-2472 and report what they are seeing. Either of these options could lead to the horse being tested during the competition by USEF drug testers. Another option would be to file a protest, but that is not anonymous and would require proof (i.e. pictures or video showing the doping) that clearly demonstrates the doping was occurring at the competition and in violation of the rules - Guidelines for Submitting a Protest.
For an event that a Groom wishes to report that takes place at home, there is not much the USEF can do as our rules do not dictate what can and cannot be done at home. However, the groom can still call USEF Drugs & Medications at 800-633-2472 and report what they are witnessing. D&M keeps records of these reports."
If you are a horse owner with a horse in training, it’s up to you to know what your horse is eating and what supplements and medications your horse may be receiving. Have a specific agreement with your trainer (in writing!!) about your horse’s care. Educate yourself. Stay involved. Talk to the Veterinarian about every prescription and every visit, even if you can’t be there. I know it’s hard when you have jobs/hobbies/families/etc. to balance, and it’s very likely that your horse’s training program is top notch. When you get involved with what your horse’s details are, you also educate yourself, which will only help you and your horse down the line.
One more thought....You have the power to make change, for you, for your horse, for the entire horse industry.
Have you ever encountered a situation where horses were given drugs or questionable substances? What did you do?