Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023

Top Four Things You Need To Know From The USEF Veterinary Committee Meeting



Lexington, Ky.—Jan. 17

Despite the fact that the open Veterinary Committee meeting is scheduled early in the week and early in the morning, interested parties line the walls for this session of the U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting.

It’s the place to learn what the new “it” drug is for calming horses or which ingenious but unsavory performance-enhancing technique is now being employed by unscrupulous trainers. It’s also a meeting where equine veterinarians advocate for helping the horse through science, whether that’s developing a test to catch cheaters or pushing for certain medications to be allowed in order to let horses compete while feeling their best.

Planning to compete this year? Here are four things you ought to know that are related to drugs and medication.

  1.  A lot of people are giving their horses medroxyprogesterone acetate, aka Depo-Provera.

This topic came up in last year’s Veterinary Committee meeting, and as rumors swept through the horse show world that this drug, which people laud as a miracle cure for moody mares and geldings alike, might go on the banned list, competitors were up in arms. So after a few town hall meetings on the topic, the USEF formed a panel of experts to investigate further.

As of Sept. 1, 2017, competitors were required to file an MPA disclosure form for horses treated within three months of the competition date. There is no penalty for filing, but a penalty may be incurred if you fail to submit the form. Forms are available in a paper version or online, and the online version has the benefit of autofill for efficient submission.


More than 4,000 MPA forms have been submitted in the last 4 ½ months. To put this into perspective, when the USEF required forms for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, they received about 10,000 over a 17-month period. The USEF has hired a temporary employee to help file the paper forms, and they are working to convert everyone to the electronic form in order to collect information more quickly. To learn about the MPA debate, check out this article from the Feb. 27, 2017, issue of the Chronicle.

  1. Administering Pergolide to your showing Cushing’s horse is about to get easier.

If you have a horse that suffers from Cushing’s syndrome or equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), you likely know that Pergolide is the drug of choice for treatment. But this substance is on the USEF’s forbidden substance list. It was permitted with a medication report form, but you still had to stop giving Pergolide for 24 hours before showing. Now the USEF is working on a therapeutic use exemption.

Like a swimmer with asthma who needs an inhaler, you’ll be able to provide documentation of your horse’s established medical condition, and once your exemption is granted, you can give Pergolide while showing. USEF officials haven’t worked out all the details yet, but they’re hoping to start implementing this process by April. It’s important to note this is an experiment at the national level and won’t apply to horses showing in FEI competition.

  1. As of April 1, 2018, injectable magnesium isn’t allowed on competition grounds at any time.

GR414.6 prohibits the possession of the injectable form of magnesium sulfate on USEF showgrounds. This includes physical possession but also may include having injectable magnesium sulfate in any area over which the competitor has control.

  1. Ciclosporin is now permitted in international competition.

Ciclosporin, a drug used to treat equine glaucoma, was formerly prohibited by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, but that rule changed in 2018 to allow it.

Wondering what the Veterinary Committee had to say about the GABA suspension that was overturned? Check out this article with the details.




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