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Depo Deaths - Chronicle Article

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  • My friend used depo on her (now retired) jumper. Her mare had horrid heat cycles to the point where the mare would slam herself against the stall walls leavings chunks of flesh. Her hips were converted in scars. On depo, the thrashing stopped and the mare was able to enjoy life. My friend chose depo over regumate because she had a history of ovarian cancer and didn’t want the risk of touching it at all. Yes, she showed the mare on depo once her wounds healed. The mare lived on depo for awhile before being retired due to other injuries. This mare was ultrasounded numerous times before starting depo and the end result was that she had overactive follicles on her ovaries. (Basically she would have had at least twins if she were ever bred).

    Comment


    • Regumate is also not allowed under USEF rules for male horses. I don't know if it or the injectable version is effective for the same behaviors in geldings as an option for those who don't show.

      Friend's mare behaves the same as GPjumper's in the self mutilating behaviors. She was on injectable Altrenogest during the relevant seasons until last year she had some really bad colics. No one could figure out why and she had a couple of expensive stays at the hospital. The only thing they had in common was proximity of the colic event to receiving the injection, so they stopped (and no more colic). They have not tried Depo for that horse, and she is back to beating herself up and kicking to the point of giving herself cellulitis. I think the owner is just gun shy now on all hormones.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by GPjumper View Post
        My friend used depo on her (now retired) jumper. Her mare had horrid heat cycles to the point where the mare would slam herself against the stall walls leavings chunks of flesh. Her hips were converted in scars. On depo, the thrashing stopped and the mare was able to enjoy life. My friend chose depo over regumate because she had a history of ovarian cancer and didn’t want the risk of touching it at all. Yes, she showed the mare on depo once her wounds healed. The mare lived on depo for awhile before being retired due to other injuries. This mare was ultrasounded numerous times before starting depo and the end result was that she had overactive follicles on her ovaries. (Basically she would have had at least twins if she were ever bred).
        I don't think most people are questioning the use of Depo for its intended purpose - which is for hormone regulation with mares. Even if the studies show it doesn't actually suppress estrus like Regumate, it is indeed a female based hormone and with many mares successfully can regulate issues resulting from imbalanced hormones or painful estrus.

        This is not dissimilar to treating ulcers. It's a veterinary treatment for a diagnosed problem. The treatment may improve behavior because the underlying veterinary condition, which has been causing pain-related symptoms, is being addressed.

        I think where people are objecting is that most geldings are receiving Depo because it makes their behavior easier to manage and/or predict, very specifically to enhance results in the show ring. I've listened to conversations about it, heard the dialogue with the vets first hand. "He can be a little wild in the show ring, can we try Depo to see if it'll make him more even?" "Suzie has a hard time managing his spook, can we try Depo to see if it'll help?" "This one would be a winner 90% of the time if he had something to take that edge off and make him more consistent."

        The research shows that Depo works off the GABA receptors in the brain. It obviously has a leveling or focusing or quieting effect on many horses, not just affecting mares experiencing major hormonal issues. Giving it for behavioral or performance enhancing reasons in male show horses is entirely different than giving a mare exhibiting self-destructive behavior due to hormone/female issues.

        Males can have hormone imbalances too, and one could make case for geldings receiving it to treat a true hormone imbalance - or to use it to stop a truly dangerous behavior because of it's calming effect. But are the majority of male show horses on it for that reason? Nope.
        Jennifer Baas
        It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post

          I've been saying it for eons. Might as well shout at clouds. It's an established "industry" with too much $$$ at stake for all the pros involved (from trainers to show franchises).
          And the other problem is that the BNTs who have clout with show managers and the USEF (via committees) also have the clients that can afford to buy those horses and training programs that would lead anyone writing those check to demand results.

          Not for nuthin' but looking over my grooming career, the fancier the pro, the greater willingness to use whatever pharmacological help they could get. I never worked for the one guy who was rumored to not worry about drug testing; everyone else I knew was quite careful about that. In any case, using whatever recipe worked for a horse to make him his best on any give day (and that recipe could be chemistry, but also management and lunging or riding) was true for the good-riding, good-spending clients and for the "also rans" who still had nice horses and were active in terms of taking lessons and going to the shows that they could afford. Those pros tried hard to make their clients' horses do as well as they could given the constraints of showing. If turnout options could be bought via a nearby rented farm, they talked about how hard it was going to be to get clients to pay for that, too. They really did try for the horses. But I didn't see any of them coming to clients with a scaled back schedule because it would have been better for the majority of the horses.

          If smaller-time trainers (not even the rank-and-file USEF members) had more say, I think you'd find a willingness to make things more realistic.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat

          Comment


          • Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

            I would be way more understanding of the use if it was always to correct unusual aggression, but if it subdues spookiness, herdbound behavior, anxiety - how are people arguing this isn't a sedative?
            If I understand it right, "sedative" has a precise meaning in pharmacology or physiology. And so, if the chemical means by which a horse is made to become "less reactive," differs, then the name for the agent doing that will differ. As far as the intent of the D&M rules and the ideal sought after in the hunter ring are concerned, I think they are de facto similar. That's what frustrates me: Everyone is using this drug (and those with similar effects-- whether the "on label" use or not for the same purpose! But they are all quite careful to omit that information. That is intentional, IMO. At least I think it is when those in the showing industry are speaking.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat

            Comment


            • Originally posted by snaffle1987 View Post
              As for Depo, like most drugs, each animals' reaction to said drug is entirely individual. Yes, a horse can go into anaphylaxis and die. A horse can also go into anaphylaxis and die from a dose of banamine as well. There are inherent risks associated with certain medications; some far more dangerous than others. Those dosing and administering Depo for show advantages with little knowledge of the drug deserve what could potential come to them.

              I have zero issue with those using Depo on dangerous mares who have a serious attitude problem. But those regularly administering this product as a sedative to win at shows; these people are dirtbags.

              USEF has been considering a Ban on Depo for quite a few years now. The drug has been whispered about at the show season for years as well. Regumate is another drug administered to geldings and stallions for the same effect

              the fact of the matter is that 99% of people using this product are not using to help mares with bad heats and behavioral issues. If this wasn't the case; we wouldn't be having this discussion. It's being used just as perfect-prep tubes are being used in the show barn. To drug horses into an anti-anxiety state for the sake of winning in the hunters.

              The hunter world has themselves to blame for creating the current environment expected in the show ring. lethargic, robotic-like rides with not so much as a tail flick...perfection. a hunter is meant to be out in the hunt field chasing fox; not loping around the arena like a half drunk WP horse with a dead brain and a dead tail. Until this environment and expectation changes, people will continue to risk their horses lives, sometimes kill them, and act likes its OK for the sake of a 10cent ribbon
              With all due respect, I think there needs to be a tad more precision in language or thinking in this discussion.

              First of all, reactions to drugs are *not* "entirely individual." I promise you, no one involved in producing, selling or manufacturing drugs will confirm that statement. Rather, some individuals (and usually, those are some outliers if the drug has been developed well and widely adopted) have unexpected reactions. That is part of the reason that the list of possible side-effects you see listed in medications' inserts are so long. The industry is required to list all of those recorded. But no one making or prescribing a drug wants results that are anywhere near as unpredictable as your statement implies.

              Second, IMO *everyone* should have a problem with using chemistry to correct an "attitude problem," even a serious one. That is to reduce the animal to a complicated biochemical machine, rather than asking if she has a legit need, fear, pain or problem that is causing her to consistently refuse to comply with what is asked of her. To me "attitude," as lots of folks use it in a casual way, means something like "unsubmissive". And that starts in the human world. How often has you heard someone with more power or rank describe a recalcitrant underling as having a generalized "attitude problem."? Do you mean that or something else? I don't think it's at all ethical to drug any living thing into submission.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat

              Comment


              • Originally posted by mvp View Post

                With all due respect, I think there needs to be a tad more precision in language or thinking in this discussion.

                First of all, reactions to drugs are *not* "entirely individual." I promise you, no one involved in producing, selling or manufacturing drugs will confirm that statement. Rather, some individuals (and usually, those are some outliers if the drug has been developed well and widely adopted) have unexpected reactions. That is part of the reason that the list of possible side-effects you see listed in medications' inserts are so long. The industry is required to list all of those recorded. But no one making or prescribing a drug wants results that are anywhere near as unpredictable as your statement implies.

                Second, IMO *everyone* should have a problem with using chemistry to correct an "attitude problem," even a serious one. That is to reduce the animal to a complicated biochemical machine, rather than asking if she has a legit need, fear, pain or problem that is causing her to consistently refuse to comply with what is asked of her. To me "attitude," as lots of folks use it in a casual way, means something like "unsubmissive". And that starts in the human world. How often has you heard someone with more power or rank describe a recalcitrant underling as having a generalized "attitude problem."? Do you mean that or something else? I don't think it's at all ethical to drug any living thing into submission.
                Actually, they are individual. Especially when using a drug like Regumate or Depo. There is no guarantee how it will help your horse. As others have posted here; some had good results. Some didn't see any noticeable change. Drugs that regulate certain bodily processes like anxiety and/or hormones work different ways for different horses; just as they do for people.

                I watched a horse drop dead within minutes in the last 4 weeks after being given very generic and very well known IV pain killer and IV antibiotic. The result; the horse had an anaphylactic reaction and died within 5 minutes.

                With all due respect to you, true; everyone should have a problem with using chemistry to correct attitude or behavior problems or to use it to calm in a manner to win. The problem is; everyone does not have a problem with it. And I can guarantee you there are many posters on this board who have used it, use it, or used something similar to gain and advantage in the ring. If they haven't done so themselves, I can guarantee you they can give you a list of close acquaintances who have used drugs and/or some form of chemistry to alter a horse's attitude for their benefit. The use of depo to alter a show hunters' attitude is well known. Its been a topic and a concern and amongst the whispers ring-side for quite a few years now.

                The problem is not strictly with Depo. Depo is just the recent topic of discussion. How many people have regular deliveries of smartcalm and perfect-prep and all sorts of other currently "legal" ways to dope their horse into being a calm and submissive for the sake of the perfect trip on show day. we no longer train horses. And the uber wealthy no longer want to learn to ride. they want to show up and win on the big stage. And we have created a show environment of rewarding the most robotic-like ride no matter what level you show at. dead tails. no brain. no pizzaz. no emotion from the animal. And as a result of having dead-to-the-world horses showing over fences and rewarding it; people will find any and every avenue to chemically alter their horse's attitude to ensure they have the best advantage. Either that or they will get up at 6am and go lunge it in the schooling arena for an hour and a half until it can barely walk.

                Such a lovely thought.

                Comment


                • Sorry off topic. Could you imagine if the trainers, riders, fathers, mothers were taken off their doctor prescribed mood enhancing medications? Couldn't resist.

                  In all seriousness, some horses (mares or geldings) do need this, but not in a cookie cutter way and its not going to make a horse hunter slow by just using medoxyprogesterone alone. It is all of the other crap that is given to the horses along with it. Let's be real.

                  I do have a question though. Are these compounding laboratories held to any standards? Like FDA for human drugs? I do not know the answer to this question. I would be interested to know.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by snaffle1987 View Post

                    Actually, they are individual. Especially when using a drug like Regumate or Depo. There is no guarantee how it will help your horse. As others have posted here; some had good results. Some didn't see any noticeable change. Drugs that regulate certain bodily processes like anxiety and/or hormones work different ways for different horses; just as they do for people.
                    I think, though, what you're really seeing is that people are giving those drugs scattershot - not with an actual biochemical diagnosis. Some horses that get the drugs don't have the underlying condition they're intended to treat.
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Ridergirl99 View Post
                      Sorry off topic. Could you imagine if the trainers, riders, fathers, mothers were taken off their doctor prescribed mood enhancing medications? Couldn't resist.

                      In all seriousness, some horses (mares or geldings) do need this, but not in a cookie cutter way and its not going to make a horse hunter slow by just using medoxyprogesterone alone. It is all of the other crap that is given to the horses along with it. Let's be real.

                      I do have a question though. Are these compounding laboratories held to any standards? Like FDA for human drugs? I do not know the answer to this question. I would be interested to know.
                      yeah and think of how much slower Lance Armstrong would have been without the doping...

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Ridergirl99 View Post
                        Sorry off topic. Could you imagine if the trainers, riders, fathers, mothers were taken off their doctor prescribed mood enhancing medications? Couldn't resist.

                        In all seriousness, some horses (mares or geldings) do need this, but not in a cookie cutter way and its not going to make a horse hunter slow by just using medoxyprogesterone alone. It is all of the other crap that is given to the horses along with it. Let's be real.

                        I do have a question though. Are these compounding laboratories held to any standards? Like FDA for human drugs? I do not know the answer to this question. I would be interested to know.
                        John Oliver looked at compounding pharmacies two weeks ago. Oversight is lax.

                        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Nuzi7LlSDVo

                        Comment


                        • I, personally, believe the issue is lax oversight of the compounding pharmacies. I’ve known several people who have used one pharmacy consistently and suddenly switched. (Found it cheaper at another pharmacy) and had adverse reactions. One horse I know had hair grow in black (on her chestnut!) where the horse was being given the depo injections. When the owner switched back to the original pharmacy, the hairs grew in normal colored. I find it frightening that there is no standard.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Ridergirl99 View Post
                            Sorry off topic. Could you imagine if the trainers, riders, fathers, mothers were taken off their doctor prescribed mood enhancing medications? Couldn't resist.
                            THIS!

                            Good Lord - when I have a meltdown my husband asks if I took my medicine.

                            Comment


                            • I made the suggestion on a FB post on this topic, that it would be worth looking into what problems Depo is actually solving. Outside of the show ring setting, people are using Depo (and Reserpine) - at the advice of their vets - to eliminate abnormal and unsafe behaviors. If people are using these drugs, not to gain an unfair advantage in the show ring, but to modify a horse's behavior so that it can be a safe and useful companion, why should the discussion not be, what safe and effective alternatives can we come up with?

                              In real life, I have actually not seen depo used in a competition setting. My only personal experiences with seeing it in practice have been on horses in a non-competition boarding barn setting, in which the horse is a danger to the owner and/or barn staff, in which extensive professional groundwork and under-saddle training, along with extensive vet work, has been done, is ongoing, and has still not 100% eliminated the abnormal and unsafe behaviors.

                              The only response I got was that these people should "learn to ride". Which I thought was really unfair, because I know these people and situations first hand, have seen how hard they have worked, and how much money, time, and effort they have put into their horse.

                              Comment


                              • Its rather interesting to see how many people say that they're overly hormonal horses have changed when given Depo when the small research study mentioned in the COTH article found that it had no effect at all on the mares it was given too (unlike Altrenogest). So what is it doing to these mares to calm them down when in in heat?

                                Quote from COTH
                                Dr. Patrick McCue and other researchers undertook a study that examined the effects of both altrenogest and MPA. The results were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Equine Veterinary Science in 2009. The study included three groups of six mares: one group was given altrenogest (daily for six weeks), one was given MPA (an initial loading dose, and then weekly for six weeks), and a control group was given a sterile saline injection.

                                None of the mares on altrenogest showed behavioral estrus when teased by a stallion, developed follicles, or showed an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH) associated with estrus.. All of the control mares and all of the mares given MPA expressed normal estrus when teased, developed follicles and ovulated, and showed an increase in LH.


                                I know the OP doesn't want to hear about alternatives but my 'whore' of a mare changed completely when put on a daily supplement of magnesium and all soy was removed from her diet

                                It also worries me that so many horses seem to need 'something' to keep them level head (or zombie-like) in the show ring
                                Maybe there needs to be more emphasis on breeding for temperament?

                                Comment


                                • Originally posted by IPEsq View Post
                                  Regumate is also not allowed under USEF rules for male horses. I don't know if it or the injectable version is effective for the same behaviors in geldings as an option for those who don't show.

                                  Friend's mare behaves the same as GPjumper's in the self mutilating behaviors. She was on injectable Altrenogest during the relevant seasons until last year she had some really bad colics. No one could figure out why and she had a couple of expensive stays at the hospital. The only thing they had in common was proximity of the colic event to receiving the injection, so they stopped (and no more colic). They have not tried Depo for that horse, and she is back to beating herself up and kicking to the point of giving herself cellulitis. I think the owner is just gun shy now on all hormones.
                                  so i looked up the drugs and medication brochure and not a single mention of altrenogest or regumate. i know FEI does not allow in male horses. i thought so too of USEF but I cannot find it.

                                  https://www.usef.org/forms-pubs/2Zp2...gs-medications

                                  Comment


                                  • Let me just throw out that there depo has been used in human beings, all OVER the world, since the early 90s. All OVER the world. First the brand name version, then a generic (it's just a form of progesterone). The number of humans who have been injected with the drug is staggering. STAGGERING. All over the world. Certainly there are risks with this (and any) drug. Certainly it has side effects. And certainly humans and horses have differing physiology. And as someone noted upthread, it has black box warnings. But those are for bone density loss, blood clots, and tubal pregnancies. Those are the primary risks. Like any injection, there are also reports of anaphylactic reactions. Any injection bears that risk. But this drug has been injected a truly MASSIVE number of times, to all sorts of women, under all sorts of circumstances, and I am not aware of any risk of anaphylactic reaction greater than the risk of injection of anything else. Which is another way of saying, at least in humans there is no unusual identified anaphylactic risk from this drug. And there's a whole LOT of empirical population data on it. Just a point to think about.

                                    If you do A and have B reaction, it does not mean A caused B. We have at least one anecdote on this thread where a horse received depo and had a reaction and the evidence demonstrated the reaction was NOT caused by the depo. I think some folks may be drawing a causal relationship where we truly don't know that one exists. Even if the SHOT caused the reaction, all sorts of other things could have caused the reaction rather than the actual drug (i.e. contamination, poor technique, etc.) I believe you can buy a non-compounded version of depo if you are worried about the risk of compounded drugs. It's off patent so it might not even be more expensive than a generic.

                                    This is separate and apart from the ethics about whether you should give depo or show a horse given depo. But boy... this is not some new drug that just hit the market. Maybe horses are utterly different in their reaction to depo than people (but that would seem odd to me because, again, it's just progesterone), but I don't know that to generally be true. And a whole LOT of people have received this shot, with the FDA tracking adverse reactions, and there is no know heightened risk of an anaphylactic reaction (beyond the risk associated with any injection).
                                    ~Veronica
                                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                                    http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      To update -

                                      I contacted my vet, who simply told me she wouldn't have sold me the depo if she didn't feel confident that there would be no adverse reactions.

                                      So I crossed my toes, said a little prayer, and poked Little Mare with her depo injection.

                                      She survived.

                                      The Farm remains a settled place.

                                      Comment


                                      • Originally posted by EmilyM View Post

                                        so i looked up the drugs and medication brochure and not a single mention of altrenogest or regumate. i know FEI does not allow in male horses. i thought so too of USEF but I cannot find it.

                                        https://www.usef.org/forms-pubs/2Zp2...gs-medications
                                        Shoot, now I can't recall where I read that. I think it was in one of the USEF materials on Depo.. It's a controlled substance under FEI rules in male horses. I thought banned for USEF too and looked it up somewhere before I posted above but now can't find it...

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                                          But boy... this is not some new drug that just hit the market. Maybe horses are utterly different in their reaction to depo than people (but that would seem odd to me because, again, it's just progesterone), but I don't know that to generally be true. And a whole LOT of people have received this shot, with the FDA tracking adverse reactions, and there is no know heightened risk of an anaphylactic reaction (beyond the risk associated with any injection).
                                          I think it's a huge mistake to compare human use of DepoProvera to the use of compounded medroxyprogesterone in horses. Just because medroxyprogesterone is safe and effective in humans does not mean that it is safe and effective in horses. Also, while the FDA does track adverse drug reactions in people, they do NOT track adverse drug reactions in horses. So, while the FDA was quick to pick up on the fact that phenylbutazone (aka bute) has dangerous side effects in humans, they would NOT likely be picking up on the fact that compounded medroxyprogesterone has been linked to an unusually high rate of fatal adverse reactions in horses.

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