Medication and Drug Policy
WHY DOES THE NCHA HAVE A MEDICATION AND DRUG POLICY?
In today’s world, animal welfare is a very serious matter and rightfully so. For many years, the NCHA has recognized the importance of protecting the health and welfare of our horses through its Zero Tolerance Policy, which prohibits any kind of physical mistreatment of a horse at NCHA shows. More recently, as medical treatments for a horse have become more sophisticated and with the advent of newer drugs, the NCHA has also recognized the need to proactively adopt rules and guidelines for the administration of medications to our horses.
In that regard, the NCHA has developed its Medication and Drug Policy with the input of some of the top equine veterinarians in the country. The primary goal of that policy is to protect the welfare of the horses by educating our members on how to use medications on their horses in accordance with the best medical standards available. While education is a key component of that policy, we all know that no policy can be truly effective unless it is properly enforced. Therefore, it is important to understand that there are consequences for violation of the medication policy. This is especially true when using drugs that are prohibited by that policy, which may result in fines, suspensions, and in severe circumstances, disqualification of a horse and rider from the show and forfeiture of winnings and titles. These potential disciplinary measures help insure that our medication policy is followed and our horses are protected.
Additionally, the NCHA’s Medication and Drug Policy is essential to the future of our sport. The failure to stay in compliance with recognized industry standards for the medical treatment of the horse can have devastating consequences. This is most recently evidenced by the closing of the iconic Santa Anita Racetrack due to the tragic deaths of several horses at that venue. It is also evidenced by recent state and federal laws banning the use of whips and certain medications in the horse racing industry. In the past, even our industry has employed some training techniques which would not pass muster under today’s standards. If we do not remain diligent in insuring that our horses are properly treated, others who don’t understand our sport will do it for us. We must do everything possible in this regard to protect our sport and our horses.
Finally, our Association wants to attract new and younger people to help grow our sport, attract bigger audiences, add more sponsors, create a larger following and increase our membership. If we want our sport to carry on to the next generation, we need to understand that they see things in a different way. This new generation has not grown up on a farm or a ranch. In fact, over the past 30 years, the demographics have changed from a situation where the majority of people lived in rural areas to a situation where the majority of people are now living in cities. Therefore, most of the new generation has not learned about horses from experience, but by watching videos and animated features. They have a real sensitivity to animal welfare. In order to attract these folks, we need to show them that we are an Association that also stresses the welfare of our horses.
We have a great sport with a high public profile. If we want to thrive and grow, we need to be diligent in our public display and policies reflecting our commitment to protect the welfare of our horses. The Medication Policy is an essential piece of that puzzle. Let’s continue to properly self-regulate and set the standard for others in the equine industry.