As discussed in a prior post, reining has hit the international scene like wildfire. Not unlike the sports of Thoroughbred racing and eventing, high-level reining events are now being held in a number countries outside North America that have differing customs regarding acceptable medications and dosage levels for equine athletes during performances.

The National Reining Horse Association (“NRHA”) issued a press release on Sunday announcing the vote of their Board of Directors to implement an “Animal Welfare and Medications” rule. This vote occurred after many discussions with NRHA membership both in the United States and abroad. 

This move is widely viewed as being in the best interest of the reining horse and the Association as a whole. The additional benefits are that it accommodates the internationalization of the sport of reining, and it will provide more clearly-understood and uniform medication rules applicable in all nations participating in NRHA events.

The NRHA will soon begin a multi-phase testing and research program to collect data specific to reining and help the Association implement a program that is suitable for the reining industry. Horses at NRHA-sanctioned events may be tested at random to determine which medications reining horses are currently competing on, and the amount of medications that are typically being used. The tests will include physical exams and drug testing by licensed veterinarians or technicians. 

The new rule includes a description of substances that horses are not allowed to compete on, as well as the acceptable limits for approved medications. Christa Morris, NRHA Sr. Director of Marketing, says of the new rules:

The prohibited substances include drugs that are considered to be in the category of a stimulant, depressant, tranquilizer, local anesthetic, psychotropic substance, or other drug which might affect the performance of a horse. Providing a complete list of forbidden substances is problematic, because new drugs frequently come onto the market. For that reason, this definition in the rule will act as a guideline for members.  We will provide an example list of prohibited substances, but it is not intended to be an exhaustive list.” 

The full rule has not been released to the public to-date, but members can access it on the NRHA website by logging in.

The new rule will be included in the 2012 NRHA Handbook. According to Morris, a “medications handbook” providing additional guidance to members to help them navigate the new rules will be provided to members along with the 2012 NRHA Handbook. 

NRHA exhibitors should remember to read labels on herbal and other over-the-counter supplements, to make sure they don’t contain any of the substances prohibited by the new rules.

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