AHSA Meeting Report
At the 84th annual meeting of the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA), the welfare of the horse was a recurring theme. Members debated issues affecting competition horses, and expanded the involvement of horse breeders in the association.
AHSA includes in its mission statement, “To protect horses by inspecting and testing to determine the use of forbidden drugs and other cruel practices.” The AHSA’s drug testing program was the subject of a General Assembly, with questions submitted about the drug testing and possible effects of drugs on performance. A panel of veterinarians, attorneys, and association officials addressed challenges from the audience and from representatives of other show organizations.
Questions focused on the presence of environmental contaminants in drug tests, the differences between therapeutic and subtherapeutic effects, and the value of “split” samples. Dr. George Maylin, Director of the
AHSA Drug Testing and Research Laboratory, responded to concerns related to the concentration of drugs in samples, addressing questions about the possibilities of a show horse testing positive for cocaine due to inadvertent contact with humans who handle or use the drug.
Dr. John Lengel, Assistant Executive Director, Drug and Medication, reported that there is an extremely minor incidence of positive tests at the AHSA Laboratory. “Since 1995, we’ve collected and tested more than 22,000 blood samples, and more than 15,000 urine samples. Samples from 11 horses in that period of time have been found to contain metabolites of cocaine.” He added that eight tested positive for reserpine which is used in humans for the treatment of hypertension, mental disorder, and tensions
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