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Are Bisphosphonates Safe for Race Horses?

Concerns about the safety of the use of bisphosphonates in young horses intended to have racing careers are being raised by racing regulators, particularly our equine medical directors and the ARCI Regulatory Veterinarians.

This matter has been discussed by the Equine Welfare Committee as well as the ARCI Board, which called for an expansion of authority over horses beyond the regulatory reach of many commissions.

This discussion was front and center at the recent ARCI Conference on Equine Welfare and Racing Integrity in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

To further everyone’s understanding of these drugs, we have included a link to the video of the panel discussion on this topic. We are especially appreciative for the presentations of Dr. Lynn Hovda and Dr. Sue Stover.

  • Dr. Hovda is the long time Equine Medical Director of the Minnesota Racing Commission and Chair of the ARCI Regulatory Veterinarians Committee. She also represents ARCI on the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium where she serves as a Member of their Scientific Advisory Committee. Dr. Hovda holds memberships in several professional, scientific, and civic organizations, and has served on committees for the American Veterinarian Medical Association, American College of Veterinary Medicine, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
  • Dr. Stover is a Professor, and Director of the JD Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory at the University of California at Davis. She is on the faculty at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, UC Davis and teaches clinical equine lameness and surgery to veterinary students and residents. She became board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons while pursuing a PhD program focused on equine orthopedic research (Dorsal metacarpal disease (‘bucked shins’) in Thoroughbred racehorses). She now devotes her time to equine orthopedic research, with over 200 research publications; mentoring veterinary students, graduate students, and residents in research; and teaching musculoskeletal anatomy, bio-mechanics, and pathology to veterinary students.

The information presented is important for anyone involved with the health and care of our equine athletes. The discussion is almost forty minutes, but definitely worth the time.

Ed Martin, ARCI President


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