Leading equine vets in Britain have slammed a decision to allow horses to compete on painkillers. They say using bute on a competition horse could lead to “catastrophic injuries”.
The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) says the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) decision to allow six medications in competition is an “extremely retrograde step for horse welfare”.
“This decision obscures the distinction between therapy and subjecting unsound horses to the stresses of competition,” said a statement from the group of leading horse vets.
“Furthermore, we have grave concerns that horses competing while under treatment with pain-relieving medicines, are at an increased risk of musculo-skeletal lesions progressing to catastrophic injuries.”
As part of its so-called “clean sport programme” the FEI decided last week to allow six substances — many of which are painkilling — to be used during competition.
Before that, the FEI has always had a “zero tolerance” policy on drugs in sport, and the about-turn caused outrage.
The leading equestrian nations around the world are lobbying for a re-think, and one leading event, CHIO Aachen, has already said it will not run under the new rules.
The British Equine Veterinary Association added: “We see this as a backward step for the development of equine sport and one that is contrary to the public aspiration of drug-free competition.
“We would strongly encourage a rational review of the available evidence and, if necessary, new research to try to formulate a more scientific basis for these regulations.”