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Depo Deaths - Chronicle Article

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  • #81
    I have been around numerous geldings that were gelded late, some even after being breeding stallions. Funny how in the western world they all seem to stop their stallion-like behavior without the need of Depo...
    Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.

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    • #82
      Originally posted by jhg140 View Post

      Offering my experience again, take it with a grain of salt.

      Re: making horses "more comfortable in their own skin"... technically that could be considered behavior altering and against the spirit of the rule. But when I think of how absolutely crippled I am without my anti-anxiety medication, despite being an incredibly successful professional... if its something you've never experienced yourself, consider yourself lucky. And if depo use allows otherwise fine horses to continue to have a job in a similar vein, and to be successful, whether that job be at AA shows or trotting x-rails with an older adult, why is that a bad thing? It's not making horses quieter or easier to ride (gosh that would be nice if it did).

      Also, if depo works for a horse, it works. If it doesn't, you're flushing $50-80/month down the drain because it doesn't change a thing.
      Again- I am not attacking you or anyone so sorry I'm quoting you .

      I fully support anti anxiety drugs. I recently had to go on medication for a different issue. I get it. FDA approved drugs especially the SSRIs, SNRIs, NaSSAs etc have well defined mechanism of actions, restoring neurotransmitters in the brain. Even St. Johns Wort identified the role of hyperforin working on SSRIs, as well.

      I'm more musing over the off-label use of a drug known to act on an entirely different pathway.

      I appreciate the open dialogue with everyone and first hand experiences.
      Come to the dark side, we have cookies

      Comment


      • #83
        Originally posted by poltroon View Post
        When so many people are using a medication off-label in this way, because of real or perceived benefits to performance, and harm is coming to horses, it seems explicitly banning the drug is appropriate. Even if your case is a good one, a reasoned one, when too many people are copying that for poor reasons, we have to reset.
        I think this is exactly right.

        Like some of the DVM's in the article, our vet won't prescribe depo due to the deaths that have been associated with its use. I think in time, USEF is going to find itself armed with plenty of data to justify banning depo or at the very least greatly restricting its use. And if you read the USEF statements, I think they won't hesitate to do so, when enough ducks (evidence) are lined up.

        Its about time.

        Comment


        • #84
          First of all, in terms of legality or use in showing animals, let's all remember that we're discussing a competitive environment. The argument that "he's more comfortable in his own skin - it's to improve his quality of life" may be true...but it is also true that you are inherently, then, modifying his behavior, which is against the USEF drug rules because it gives him a competitive advantage. That same horse, not on depo, may be spooking or distracted in the show ring, resulting in a lower performance.

          A competitive athlete may have a sore knee that bugs him in his daily life, but he cannot take a banned medication that improves his quality of life because that same medication also gives him a competitive advantage.

          There are plenty of medications that are valid and necessary outside the show ring. Depo may be one of them, even in geldings, if it keeps a horse safer to himself and his handlers.

          But you cannot convince me that it is appropriate to then show him on that medication without violating the rules. You're giving the medication to modify his natural behavior....behavior that would make him less competitive without it.

          In so many cases, drugs (whether it's Depo, Dex, GABA, Mag, whatever) are given to compensate for a lack of training or because of the lifestyle people require of their show horses. In others it's to take that horse that performs at 95% to 100% or to mitigate the risk of a spook or a head toss.

          In other cases - in a lot of cases - it's given to take away the natural limitations of a horse. We consider scope or step or soundness a natural limitation, but the second its a temperament or brain or ridability issue that is difficult or can't fully be erased with training, somehow people think it's okay to override that natural limitation with some Depo (or insert other drug here).

          My mare could be a total rockstar of an eq or derby horse if given something "to level her out" or "make her more comfortable in her own skin." She has scope and step for days. And she will fixate on a deer that's 2 miles away. Training has helped that, and she has days where she *can* be that focused, soft, perfect mare. But that's not her consistently.

          So rather than reach for a bottle, I accept that's her natural limitation. And she's a jumper instead of an eq horse or hunter because of it. And I accept that there are going to be tough days with her because for her, her brain is her weakness.

          Would that more people approached their horses that way rather than saying "but he could be a great hunter of only he were 10% quieter...15% more focused...10% more comfortable in his own skin."

          Realistically, that's the common reasons for Depo. Sure, there's the few horses that need it because they legitimately are studdish or difficult to handle. But I reeeealllly don't think the show ring is full of psychotic geldings who are absolutely unmanageable without it.....(and again, if that's the case......then you're still enhancing his behavior in the show ring. So give him the Depo and leave him at home). I have known plenty of geldings getting it who were delightful to be around and just needed that extra chemically enhanced something to make them that much more competitive or consistent in the ring.

          "My hunter is so much quieter on Depo" sounds a whole lot like Lance Armstrong being like "But I'm so much faster while blood doping." Well, yeah. Which is why it's against the rules.
          Jennifer Baas
          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

          Comment


          • #85
            There is another horse I know of. Young appy gelding. A total jag of a horse - pins his ears, kicks out, won't come off or in front of the leg, balks, rears. There is not a picture of this horse being worked anywhere where his ears aren't flat to his head and nostrils pulled. I've seen how he's handled - it really isn't helping (he's the kind of horse that can really push your buttons if you're not in the right mindset for his shenanigans that day, and I've witnessed multiple people really rough him up as a result). His crap attitude is attributed to his upbringing, but I have a feeling he's uncomfortable somewhere. He's not blatantly dangerous, he just has a poor poor work ethic.

            Trainer's answer?

            Not ulcers. Not vet check. Not saddle fit. Not training. Not hacking out.

            Medroxy.


            Comment


            • #86
              Wow some of the comments are ... interesting. I recently tried an 8yo former breeding stallion who was apparently a nutcase as a stallion and he had been gelded only 6 months ago. You could not tell. He acted like a perfectly normal gelding as far as I could judge in a crowded arena, in the barn near a mare with foal. They are all individuals.

              My horse also was not gelded late but a lot of trainers who have been there done that and some vets questioned his castration from the start due to his behaviors. But his tests show he is in fact a gelding. I already discussed some of his issues. I would be interested to know exactly what it does in the horse because maybe that would give insight into a potentially safer alternative. I don't need to show him so I don't care about it being show legal. He does however need to live at a boarding barn and not be a liability to others.

              Comment


              • #87
                Originally posted by IPEsq View Post
                My horse also was not gelded late but a lot of trainers who have been there done that and some vets questioned his castration from the start due to his behaviors. But his tests show he is in fact a gelding. I already discussed some of his issues. I would be interested to know exactly what it does in the horse because maybe that would give insight into a potentially safer alternative. I don't need to show him so I don't care about it being show legal. He does however need to live at a boarding barn and not be a liability to others.
                My opinion? That's a totally valid use. It helps him be safer and happier in his everyday life, and safe to handle in a boarding situation. You've clearly exhausted other options, and it makes a clear difference for him. And you're not showing him at USEF shows.
                Jennifer Baas
                It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                Comment


                • #88
                  Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                  T.R.A.I.N.I.N.G.

                  Or, buy a horse that suits your needs without necessitating a chemical lifestyle.

                  Edit: My mare is hot. She will drag you if you don't enforce things. She came to me the way you describe your gelding. Now - she gets clingy? She goes and gets tied to a stout fence post for a couple hours while I do chores. She pulls back that's her problem. She tried calling just a few times before she learned that calling = hard, crummy work, so she stopped.

                  Train him to tie. Train him to hack out. Train him to be alone. It's training. Especially the tying crap, its training. You don't think a shot of medroxy taught him to come forward off of poll pressure, do you?
                  My mare-- the "that" mare-- described above, is similar-- opinionated and willing to be harder on herself that I am if she is separated from her herd while turned out. This is primarily a management problem. Fortunately, I can solve it because she lives in a place that I choose which can accommodate her. But I can see someone wanting to be in particular pro's barn or having to choose among very few boarding stables resorting to medicating the horse to make his 24/7 life manageable.

                  Like your mare, the solution to the case of the strong-minded mare who wants and needs what she thinks is important, the key is giving her a J.O.B. and teaching her that the person who is handling her or riding her is the most important thing to attend to. It can be done. But when she "off the clock," all you have is good management. And if you can't get that done with the right fencing or barn lay-out, I see why folks go to drugs.

                  I'm not sure any amount of training make these horses better or different when they are off the clock. Did your hot and opinionated mare tame down with training?
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat

                  Comment


                  • #89
                    Originally posted by Pennywell Bay View Post
                    jhg140 - I hope you find a good home for your guy. I don't mean any disrespect and I am not proposing the question to you specifically, so I do no mean it in an adversarial way to anybody.

                    For the purposes of showing- of which was the outcry with the proposed rule:

                    As a long time hunter rider I am genuinely curious because some respected people have come out in favor of depo for geldings and mares alike. For geldings specifically (but mares as well)- if it "makes them comfortable in their own skin", more focused, etc- is that not "mood altering" and therefore not legal?

                    Or is it because the science isn't flushed out enough that makes it legal?
                    As I understand it, there are two forms of "illegal"

                    1. The drug cannot be found in the blood above some particular threshold, and there is a test for that.

                    2. There may or may not be a test for the drug, but it is illegal by virtue of the "performance enhancing" intention.

                    So there are lots of different species of problem in this second "genus" of violation. Some are drugs usually prescribed for one purpose (e.g. Dexamethazone, a steroid commonly used to control hives) actually be used for its effects. Or there is something like Perfect Prep an OTC drug clearly intended (especially when used in huge amounts), or worse and weirder, yet also mean to quiet without being testable-- IV Magnesium. Or the cocaine for the horse left turned out all night (which they do test for-- it's not the cocaine that was doing the primary job for that hunter).

                    Again, all of these things violate the "meant to be performance enhancing" arm of the USEF's D and M rules.

                    It is especially sad to see these descriptions of "being more comfortable in their skin" or "more focused." That's because as a lifelong horsewoman who really likes the Training Job implicit in making a relaxed, rideable horse, i breaks my heart to think that these horses aren't given a chance to learn how to be so comfortable in their jobs and their lives as show horses. So I don't see the difference between "mood altering" and "making a horse comfortable in his skin"/"more focused." And everyone wants this kind of horse; it really usually does come with training.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat

                    Comment


                    • #90
                      Originally posted by mvp View Post
                      I'm not sure any amount of training make these horses better or different when they are off the clock. Did your hot and opinionated mare tame down with training?
                      I'm not the one you asked but I have a similar mare, so I'll answer. Yes, training has absolutely helped. Boundaries, effective ground work, firmness + softness applied in the right formula, figuring out the right way to approach her, all have made a huge difference in her. I'd say training took her issues from a 80-90% of the time to 40-60% of the time.

                      And environment has taken them down to 25-30%...maybe even less.

                      So 15-30% of the time, she's difficult. She just is. You alter the environment piece (for her, the 14-24 hour turnout in a small herd in my private barn, stall + run when in, proper supplements/feed is what's worked so well for her) and you're going to get hot/difficult 40-60% of the time. And you take the training/approach piece out too and 80-90% of the time she's difficult.

                      I can see how someone who's less educated, patient, or tactful would reach for a syringe for her. And likewise, she was much more difficult to deal with in a traditional boarding/show barn situation.

                      But honestly it's pretty equal parts environment + training that made the difference with her. You approach that mare wrong and she could be out 24/7 and you will have a battle on your hands. You approach her 100% right but she's been locked in a stall for a week...you're gonna have a battle.
                      Jennifer Baas
                      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                      Comment


                      • #91
                        Originally posted by jhg140 View Post

                        Offering my experience again, take it with a grain of salt.

                        Re: making horses "more comfortable in their own skin"... technically that could be considered behavior altering and against the spirit of the rule. But when I think of how absolutely crippled I am without my anti-anxiety medication, despite being an incredibly successful professional... if its something you've never experienced yourself, consider yourself lucky. And if depo use allows otherwise fine horses to continue to have a job in a similar vein, and to be successful, whether that job be at AA shows or trotting x-rails with an older adult, why is that a bad thing? It's not making horses quieter or easier to ride (gosh that would be nice if it did).

                        Also, if depo works for a horse, it works. If it doesn't, you're flushing $50-80/month down the drain because it doesn't change a thing.
                        The difference is that you, as an adult, get to make the decision yourself to keep both your chosen career and your anxiety meds. Horses don't get to choose their job, but boy-howdy, they can find someone willing to get them at suit up and act the part.

                        As I stated above about "informed consent" I really don't think that adults liking their anti-anxiety drugs or pain-control drugs are an especially good justification for making it acceptable for horses to compete on these things in a regular way. The opportunity for abuse that that opens up is too obvious.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

                        Comment


                        • #92
                          Originally posted by mvp View Post

                          The difference is that you, as an adult, get to make the decision yourself to keep both your chosen career and your anxiety meds. Horses don't get to choose their job, but boy-howdy, they can find someone willing to get them at suit up and act the part.

                          As I stated above about "informed consent" I really don't think that adults liking their anti-anxiety drugs or pain-control drugs are an especially good justification for making it acceptable for horses to compete on these things in a regular way. The opportunity for abuse that that opens up is too obvious.
                          It is perfectly legal to give a wide variety of therapeutic substances and show the horse, under the rules. Many of which, if omitted, might make the horse not able to train or compete. I would argue that at least for some horses, Depo has a therapeutic effect.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #93
                            My thread seems to have moved from first hand experience with anaphylaxis to the great debate about performance altering drugs. It's a useless discussion. Sure, training. But what happens when training doesn't work? Horse is entirely too expensive to throw aside because he can't perform a job without acting like a stallion. If a drug creates a horse that can hold a career and have a life, by all means, go for it. Where would horse end up otherwise? Passed down a chain of cowboys and aggressive riders?

                            Let's get back on topic.

                            FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH ANAPHLAXIS? ANYONE?!

                            Reminder: Little mare is on Depo to keep my GELDINGS safe. She is able to reliably turn out in her small group as long as she's on depo. Whatever it does, I don't care. My boys keep their legs intact, my mare gets twelve hours of turnout. Yes, she's showing at rated horse shows. I submit her depo form when I sign in.

                            Comment


                            • #94
                              Originally posted by IPEsq View Post

                              It is perfectly legal to give a wide variety of therapeutic substances and show the horse, under the rules. Many of which, if omitted, might make the horse not able to train or compete. I would argue that at least for some horses, Depo has a therapeutic effect.
                              What, specifically is the therapeutic effect? Does Bute also have a therapeutic effect under your definition?

                              I'm confused about where the USEF would draw the line between "performance enhancing because it modifies behavior" and "therapeutic.... where the goal is very quiet behavior." How you you distinguish those categories?
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • #95
                                Originally posted by scrbear11 View Post
                                My thread seems to have moved from first hand experience with anaphylaxis to the great debate about performance altering drugs. It's a useless discussion. Sure, training. But what happens when training doesn't work? Horse is entirely too expensive to throw aside because he can't perform a job without acting like a stallion. If a drug creates a horse that can hold a career and have a life, by all means, go for it. Where would horse end up otherwise? Passed down a chain of cowboys and aggressive riders?

                                Let's get back on topic.

                                FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH ANAPHLAXIS? ANYONE?!

                                Reminder: Little mare is on Depo to keep my GELDINGS safe. She is able to reliably turn out in her small group as long as she's on depo. Whatever it does, I don't care. My boys keep their legs intact, my mare gets twelve hours of turnout. Yes, she's showing at rated horse shows. I submit her depo form when I sign in.
                                I think that this very specific question has been discussed already in this thread. Anaphlaxis is an allergic reaction and is a risk inherent in any number of medications, and is especially dangerous with injectible medications because they get into the system so fast and often in high concentrations.

                                I think what's lacking is any research on how often anaphlaxis occurs either generally with all injections or specifically with the injection of depo. And because this is an off-label use of depo, there's little real research at all on how or why it works in horses, either mares or geldings.

                                So, I think you have your answer: there's a risk inherent in using it, although how great of a risk is hard to know. You have to decide whether you're okay with that risk.

                                If you can't have your mare in turnout either only with other mares or by herself, it may be that the benefits outweigh the risk in your situation.

                                Interesting article in The Horse on mares behaving badly:

                                https://thehorse.com/19902/mares-beh...omething-else/
                                "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

                                Comment


                                • #96
                                  Originally posted by mvp View Post

                                  My mare-- the "that" mare-- described above, is similar-- opinionated and willing to be harder on herself that I am if she is separated from her herd while turned out. This is primarily a management problem. Fortunately, I can solve it because she lives in a place that I choose which can accommodate her. But I can see someone wanting to be in particular pro's barn or having to choose among very few boarding stables resorting to medicating the horse to make his 24/7 life manageable.

                                  Like your mare, the solution to the case of the strong-minded mare who wants and needs what she thinks is important, the key is giving her a J.O.B. and teaching her that the person who is handling her or riding her is the most important thing to attend to. It can be done. But when she "off the clock," all you have is good management. And if you can't get that done with the right fencing or barn lay-out, I see why folks go to drugs.

                                  I'm not sure any amount of training make these horses better or different when they are off the clock. Did your hot and opinionated mare tame down with training?
                                  Shes hot and opinionated, and still is anxiety ridden if things dont go her way, but she has to deal with it. She demands a certain kind of ride, and it took me a LOT of hard work to give it to her. I still make mistakes and torque her off sometimes, but shes learning to forgive me and get her little ass back to work (ie, have a sense of humor, ya little weenie, sorry for adjusting the reins too abruptly for your taste, etc).

                                  Ground work is always a work in progress. The barn kids, non horse people, claim she is their favorite to lead in and out, but I'm sure they let her get away with murder because I often have to correct her for making it unclear who is leading who. Ha! I have told them specifically not to accomodate her. If she wants to lose her cookies over something stupid, wait until shes calm (or calmer, some days) and then do what you were going to do. No catering to her preferences. I think not catering to her has subdued a lot of the tantrums and stupidity she started with.

                                  Shes always going to be hot, and not beginner safe. I still have a long ways to go with ingate etiquette, and not blowing through half halts when excited. But all this I'm working on with training. I would never dream of medicating her there. I take her on long walking hacks, and do other things to strengthen the "relaxed" part of her mind.

                                  and I put a really good whoa on her, just in case haha

                                  Edited to add: I'm also pretty firm with how her anxiety is allowed to exhibit. She is allowed to be anxious, but it must be within "this box" of acceptable behaviors. Outside of anxiety, if she is getting a little too sassy about something, I will repeat it until the sass subsides. Flattening your ears because I put my leg on gets a rinse repeat reaction from me until she does it with a reasonable attitude. I don't up the anty because she's more than willing to go to war. It's a 'well that's not quite what I wanted' and we do it again. And again, if needed. Then we move on to something she finds more pleasant.
                                  Last edited by endlessclimb; Oct. 14, 2019, 06:27 PM.

                                  Comment


                                  • #97
                                    I think the whole problem with depo is while it is appropriate for some horses, like the OP’s, too many people use it to make the horse competitive in a particular discipline. For example, you could have a gelding on depo because they show in hunters and it makes the horse better. That same horse could go to the jumpers, eventing or dressage and be competitive without the depo.

                                    It was recommended to me to put both my former and current mare on depo. The first mare needed a specific type of ride and my “trainer” just didn’t like that type of horse. When trainer shopping actually had one tell me they won’t ride a mare unless it’s on depo. Obviously they were not hired.

                                    Current mare was a rider problem. She’s spooky and has a mind of her own. She’d be a nice hunter if it kept her brain busy enough. I tried. She is better with eventing as it keeps her brain busy and if she has a moment on course it won’t keep us out of the ribbons. She doesn’t have moments in dressage as it keeps her totally engaged. If you’re a timid rider nothing will work.

                                    So while there are horses who’s lives are made better by depo, I think there are many more who are a square peg in a round hole because of their riders/owners. They want to do THIS discipline and the horse is fancy enough too win but...... Or the horse does win without help but can’t because the owner isn’t good enough to get that same ride without help.

                                    ETA: I don’t really care anymore if people what to use whatever for their horses even if it toes the line of violating the spirit of the rule because I show now just to see where I stack up. So maybe twice a year. I enjoy the process more than the shows.

                                    Comment


                                    • #98
                                      Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post
                                      I think the whole problem with depo is while it is appropriate for some horses, like the OP’s, too many people use it to make the horse competitive in a particular discipline. For example, you could have a gelding on depo because they show in hunters and it makes the horse better. That same horse could go to the jumpers, eventing or dressage and be competitive without the depo.

                                      It was recommended to me to put both my former and current mare on depo. The first mare needed a specific type of ride and my “trainer” just didn’t like that type of horse. When trainer shopping actually had one tell me they won’t ride a mare unless it’s on depo. Obviously they were not hired.

                                      Current mare was a rider problem. She’s spooky and has a mind of her own. She’d be a nice hunter if it kept her brain busy enough. I tried. She is better with eventing as it keeps her brain busy and if she has a moment on course it won’t keep us out of the ribbons. She doesn’t have moments in dressage as it keeps her totally engaged. If you’re a timid rider nothing will work.

                                      So while there are horses who’s lives are made better by depo, I think there are many more who are a square peg in a round hole because of their riders/owners. They want to do THIS discipline and the horse is fancy enough too win but...... Or the horse does win without help but can’t because the owner isn’t good enough to get that same ride without help.

                                      ETA: I don’t really care anymore if people what to use whatever for their horses even if it toes the line of violating the spirit of the rule because I show now just to see where I stack up. So maybe twice a year. I enjoy the process more than the shows.
                                      This is where I have issues with it. That and immediately turning to it, instead of training through issues. They're animals, not robots. They're going to make mistakes. If that scares you, then you better buy something dead broke, or pay someone to train it/ride it/whatever. I understand people get attached to their animals, but sometimes it would be better for all parties to just let one go and buy something more suitable.

                                      Comment


                                      • #99
                                        Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                                        This is where I have issues with it. That and immediately turning to it, instead of training through issues. They're animals, not robots. They're going to make mistakes. If that scares you, then you better buy something dead broke, or pay someone to train it/ride it/whatever. I understand people get attached to their animals, but sometimes it would be better for all parties to just let one go and buy something more suitable.
                                        While I agree I also don’t see any poster here using depo for that reason. Sometimes horses need some chemical help to realize life isn’t scary. My first mare needed to be aced for body clipping. Eventually she was good without any chemical help.

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by Denali6298 View Post

                                          While I agree I also don’t see any poster here using depo for that reason. Sometimes horses need some chemical help to realize life isn’t scary. My first mare needed to be aced for body clipping. Eventually she was good without any chemical help.
                                          I'd vote the individual I originally responded to, whose horse is now for sale, was using it instead of training.

                                          Is depo use something disclosed when selling a horse?

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