The Meds Maze

Get helpful information for navigating the crowded field of performance-horse medications.

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Get helpful information for navigating the crowded field of performance-horse medications

Got a headache? You probably pop a pain reliever. That achy knee bothering you today? Perhaps you reach for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). While you might not give your own remedies much thought, you’d better do your due diligence when it comes to your horse’s aches and pains, particularly if you plan to compete. 

Our national governing body (NGB) for equestrian sport, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), is responsible for ensuring a level playing field is maintained at its recognized competitions. That means running a tight ship and enforcing rules pertaining to what substances owners, trainers, or veterinarians may and may not administer to horses. 

Generally speaking, two rules of thumb apply to the worlds of equine medications and competition. The first is that, just as in human medicine, new drugs and other purportedly beneficial substances (“nutraceuticals” and the like) continue to be developed. All this innovation keeps the USEF drugs-and-meds folks busy trying to figure out what the new stuff does; how it might interact with other substances; and whether it should be permitted, restricted, or banned in licensed competition.

The second is that, unfortunately, there always seem to be competitors bent on skirting the rules in order to gain an unfair advantage or, perhaps, show a horse that’s not sound

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Written by:

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation’s magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site,

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