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Drug testing CA style

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  • Drug testing CA style

    I am a huge supporter of all things that keep the playing field level including having random testing at all levels of horse shows/competitions.
    This past weekend I had riders at a rated show on Sat. and the "b" team at a local on Sun.
    I was schooling a rider in the warm up on Sunday where I could look over to the trailer parking. I watched a tester collect a urine sample from one of my horses tied to the trailer. Also saw her go inside the tack compartment with what looked like a piece of paper.
    I was too busy to stop what I was doing and go out to see what was happening. I usually deal with the USEF protocol of having the vet/tester tech tell you that the horse was selected, please fill out the paperwork blah blah blah so I just made a mental note and carried on.
    When I returned home last night I remembered to call the owner of the horse who's urine had been collected to see if she had filled out the owner info. She responded that NO she left the show when her classes were finished.
    I got curious so I called the show secretary today to ask if the tester had been in the office that day and had she by chance asked about any of the horses I had there.
    Well yes as a matter of fact, the tester came in the office and requested the info on # X because she found the number in the tack compartment of my trailer.
    EXCEPT that # was actually assigned to a different horse I had at the show.
    BIG MESS, (no worries since neither gets a gram of anything) but I had to get on the phone to Sacramento this morning to alert the the head of the CDFA that the sample they pulled from one horse was going to the lab with another horses' name and owner information. Thank goodness the paperwork does list the horse description, one is a huge gray, the other is a large chestnut. Does this give me any confidence in the system... hmm, not so much. Frankly it would never have come to light since only owners/trainers with a positive result are contacted, but can you imagine having to defend yourself if a sample was sent in under a misidentified horse... or I was in another ring and never saw the whole episode. UGH !!!
    Last edited by Wanderluster; Apr. 5, 2011, 02:31 AM.

  • #2


    • #3
      Extremely! And illegal?


      • #4
        I didn't know that they could take a sample without your knowledge! Sounds like a liability to me.. seeing as I have a few that I wouldn't want someone who didn't know them to approach them without me there. Some of the drug testers I've met in my life have not exactly been serious horse people and a few of them were downright afraid of a big horse.

        Like you, my problem with them certainly wouldn't be with the fact that they wanted to test my horse, but I would be not so happy that they'd approached my horse, tied to my trailer, and collected a sample. What if they'd done something careless to spook the horse and it had pulled back and injured itself? Or another horse? Or the tester?
        Teneriffe Enterprises- NW Indiana


        • #5
          Is the CA system usually so open to disaster, or did you just happen upon a moronic volunteer tester? Curious as to what the protections are that are in place to protect them and you, if any, because everyone's open to liability in that little above scenario.
          Moronic testers however, those are hard to govern, even for USEF. I was stabled next to someone last year whose tester waved the horse off to the wash stall alone (!) so she could continue her chat on her cell phone from her perch on the tack trunk. Then upon the horse's return she became confused and attempted to collect a sample from a different horse stabled across the aisle (!!).


          • #6
            Never ever dealt with anything that unprofessional in years of showing in California. All encounters have started with the tester coming up, introducing themselves, and stating that they want a sample. They will let you cool down the horse, etc. Many of them aren't vets, at least in my experience, so can't pull blood. I really don't think they are supposed to go skulking around the showgrounds with their jar on a stick.

            Not saying that I haven't had a few interesting encounters. Like the one who came up to me as I was exiting the ring (at the sideways prance) on a jumper and wanted to test him. Trainer's comment: "Do they think we give him uppers?" I asked for the time to cool him out. She did let me walk away from her, so not too bright. When I returned with my now-calm horse (he was a different animal on the ground vs over jumps) she asked me if I was sure that it was the same horse.

            A few years later. Same tester (and anyone who showed in our area in the 80's to early 90's knows of whom I speak). Different horse. I warned her that he was a bit quick with his hind end. He was also cat-like in his ability to figure out what you wanted and do the opposite. So, the horse who usually peed volumes as soon as I got off, stood in the stall and waited. And waited. Finally he stretched out, dropped, and started to pee. She came forward (quite cautiously, given my warning) with her stick on the jar. Whereupon, he stopped, sucked it back in, and glared over at her. No sample that time.

            They do pay them. Not sure how much.
            The Evil Chem Prof


            • #7
              I had an encounter with a CA tester a little over a year ago. She approached a friend of mine after winning a pleasure class at a small schooling show seeking a sample.

              Friend was all done showing for the day, so she and the tester hung out with the horse back at the trailer. About an hour and fifteen minutes later, the rest of our crew was all done and ready to leave the show - horse still hadn't produced a sample. The tester acknowledged that everyone from our barn was waiting on Friend and gave us permission to leave, even wishing us a nice night.

              About a week later, Friend got a nastygram from the state trying to say that she left without permission. I had to write a few emails clarifying the situation.

              I'm really not a fan of how the CA testers go about their duties at all. The best part of it all is that a rated show with a big-money GP was going on less than 30 miles away - but for some reason, the testers figured they'd catch the dope fiends at an evening schooling show where the majority of participants were doing walk-trot classes.


              • Original Poster

                Great questions, I ran some of them by the dept, chief veterinarian.
                Can you collect from a horse without an attendant present ? In CA the answer is yes but you must find a person -friend, groom, owner or trainer to identify the animal.
                They can obtain information that is openly available, if your saddle has a number attached and is on a stand outside of your trailer or your horse is standing with the number tied around his neck that information can be gathered.
                Also CA govt standards are tougher than USEF so you should know them to avoid prosecution.
                What really galled me was the idea of someone going into the tackroom of my trailer looking for a number, wth. I thought that some things are my personal property and were only available by permission, I presume that after the investigation is complete there may be stricter standards. Nevermind... I just remembered the world is stupid and makes no sense.
                Last edited by Wanderluster; Apr. 5, 2011, 02:42 AM.


                • #9
                  That kind of behavior the OP described is really unprofessional. I hope someone raises a stink about it. I don't know of any sport where someone can just walk into someone else's trailer/tent/support vehicle/whatever and just start doing whatever. The testers are supposed to introduce themselves, say what they are there for, show documentation to that effect, at least in the other sports I participate in.

                  Sounds like these horse show drug testing people are totally clueless.


                  • #10
                    Are they not vets? I know in our bigger shows like the RDS it's vets who do the testing and do it with the riders present and observing. Surely it would be very easy for foul play if the horses are tested without a representative present?


                    • #11
                      WOW! I would go off on somebody if they went near my horse or my trailer!

                      California tests at schooling shows?!? Your local shows must have some amazing prize money and sponsorships!!


                      • #12
                        I am aghasted that someone would go into your trailer, find a random number and walk away assuming that is the horse tied there for something as career ruining as a drug test.


                        • #13
                          I think that's illegal entry unless there's something in the show rules saying that any show officials can enter any trailer parked on the grounds without permission. How do you know they weren't going to steal something? And like trubandloki says, how the heck do they know that number goes with that horse and owner? Would they have gone into your truck if they didn't find the number? The tester sounds like an unprofessional idiot.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                            Is the CA system usually so open to disaster, or did you just happen upon a moronic volunteer tester? Curious as to what the protections are that are in place to protect them and you, if any, because everyone's open to liability in that little above scenario...

                            IME and that of my many friends still out in Ca they are less competent overall then the USEF.

                            It is a state run program where, at least, USEF is operated by USEF, not the hosting state.

                            In fact, I recall being tested TWICE one time during a 4 day show...Del Mar when it was still at the racetrack. Once by the State and once by the AHSA. I hear if you come up a positive, it is a beaurcratic nightmare trying to even prove the sample is from the correct horse EVEN when the description on the sample paperwork says it's bay mare when you have a Palomino gelding.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                              I am aghasted that someone would go into your trailer, find a random number and walk away assuming that is the horse tied there for something as career ruining as a drug test.
                              Yes. Very haphazard. I hope this was a fluke, not a regular practice!

                              And I don't think I understand how this works. If you're tested by the state, not a horse show organization, what happens if the test is positive? Can the state fine you? Or suspend you from participating in shows they don't run?

                              And do they use the same medication rules and standards as USEF, or did they make up their own?


                              • #16

                                First off, the STATE pays people to do random drug tests at horse shows?

                                Second, they can just approach a horse at any time, and ask the owner to id it? What if Joe Trainer or Jane Owner decided to give the name of another horse at the show? And like MHM I would definitely want to do a little research into how they test, what is illegal, how they discipline, yadda, yadda.

                                I don't live in Ca, and have never had USEF/AHSA testers do anything other than approach me as I left the ring, and act in a professional manner. I did have one tester get tired of waiting and asked if they could administer lasix (sp?) which I denied, (didn't see any reason to give the horse drugs) and they eventually gave up. I did have paperwork saying that they couldn't obtain a urine sample, I guess to avoid the situation mentioned above.


                                • #17
                                  Yes, California tests horses at all levels of shows, even USEF shows. IIRC, there have been shows where both agencies have been testing.

                                  No, the testers don't have to be vets. Hence the collection of urine only as opposed to urine and blood.

                                  I think that what happens in the event of a positive is that you're fined by the state. Unlike USEF where it seems to be the trainer that bears the brunt of the punishment or FEI where it is the rider, I believe it is the owner that is the responsible party for Cal Dept of Food and Ag.

                                  The way it works from the show management side is that you send your paperwork into the state beforehand and then collect $5 per horse. They send you back an assortment of stuff, including a poster for the show office and drug declaration forms. The tester is supposed to check in with the show management or show office before they start testing. I think they check back in at the end to verify information, but I'm not sure. After the show, you send the state their $5/horse.

                                  More information here - http://www.cdfa.ca.gov//ahfss/Animal_Health/EMMP/
                                  The Evil Chem Prof


                                  • #18
                                    So yes, in California, there a drug testing program as created by state law. Thus, you can be tested at any horse show here - even a schooling show - and you have to pay a drug fee to the state for unrecognized shows.

                                    USEF and California have joined forces in some way so that you no longer have to pay two drug fees at recognized shows. I forget if USEF contracts to the state or the state contracts to USEF, but they coordinate now.

                                    I have never had a California tester act unprofessionally: all have introduced themselves and then worked with the rider to get a sample.

                                    I think dealing with an unattended horse is foolish on many levels, and going into a trailer is just flat out wrong. Seems easy enough to stand by the horse and ask someone to make an announcement to get its people to show up.
                                    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


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                      It is a state run program where, at least, USEF is operated by USEF, not the hosting state.
                                      I am amazed that CA has a state run equine drug testing program.

                                      Are the fines so high it is worth keeping the program going? Do they follow the same drug rules as USEF?

                                      I am trying to picture IL having a state run & funded equine drug testing program. Yeah...no.
                                      "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


                                      • #20
                                        Every time I've called the Dept of Ag they have stated they are going buy USEF guidelines. They are usually pretty good about responding to questions about what supplements are legal. I keep print outs of email correspondence just in case. I've been tested once, the tester walked up to me, asked if I was finished then followed me to the trailer. I had to fill out information, and after 30 min when my mare wouldn't pee she had me sign another form and left.

                                        There was a tester at the county rated show I was at this weekend, and she followed the same protocol- introduced herself and stated she wanted a sample, waited until horse was finished, got all information, and had trainer sign off when the horse crossed her legs. I would be livid if a tester went into my trailer or tack room without me being right there knowing what was going on. I would take that up with the Dept of Ag. I don't mind having testers at any show (a drug fee has to be charged any time entries are over $5 per class I believe). It helps keep the playing field level.