Medication for performance horses

Medication for performance horses

Policy type: Position statement
Status: Current
Manual reference: 10d
Date ratified: 6 November 2012

Position statement

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) encourages the appropriate use of therapeutic substances in performance horses, and condemns the improper use of performance modifying drugs or substances in equine athletic competition.


Therapeutic drugs are used for the legitimate treatment of performance animals. All veterinarians involved in equine treatment must be aware of the consequences of administering such substances. The New Zealand Veterinary Association is continuing its efforts to keep members aware of developments in this area and furthermore, to ensure that rules relating to the use of substances used by each particular sector are precise, workable from a practical viewpoint and acceptable in terms of public perception.


Veterinarians must be thoroughly familiar with the rules of the particular body controlling the competition the horse is participating in, especially those pertaining to medication of horses.

Any veterinarian who prescribes, supplies or administers therapeutic medications must be aware of the clearance times of that medication or its metabolites and the serious consequences if detection of that medication occurs.

When considering the use of therapeutic substances, the welfare of the horse must take precedence over decisions based purely on clearance times and desire to have the horse compete at a particular event.

Equine Vets of New Zealand recommends that veterinarians involved in the medication of performance horses become members of their association in order to have access to the latest Equine Vets of New Zealand Prohibited Substances list and the associated disclaimer. Membership enables the Equine Vets of New Zealand to quickly notify members of any changes that may occur.

Veterinarians should continue to be aware that:

  • The response to medication can vary from horse to horse
  • Recommendations with regard to withholding times can change
  • Detection methods are becoming increasingly more sophisticated.