California Riding Magazine • February, 2014

Heads Up!
New medication rule for public horse shows and public sales.

by Katie Flynn, BVMS, MRCVS, Equine Medication Monitoring Program Veterinarian

The California equine industry sponsored legislation in 1971 to prevent misuse of drugs and medications in equines (horses, mules and donkeys) in public shows and sales. The California Food and Agricultural Code Sections 24000-24018 outline the California Equine Medication Rule applicable to equine owners, trainers, exhibitors and consignors of horses entered in public equine events. The California Department of Food and Agriculture manages the Equine Medication Monitoring Program (EMMP) and monitors horses in public shows, competitions and sales through random collection of samples for chemical analysis. To fund the EMMP, event managers collect a fee of $5.00 for each horse being entered in a show/competition or being consigned to a public sale.

The intent of the California Equine Medication Rule is to ensure the integrity of public horse shows, competitions and sales through the control of performance and disposition-enhancing drugs, while permitting limited use of therapeutic drugs in horses at horse shows and competitions. The EMMP has worked over the last 40 years to fulfill the intent of the Californian Equine Medication Rule.

Horse owners, trainers, exhibitors and consignors must comply with both the California Equine Medication Rule and any sponsoring organization rules for an event. If an event sponsoring organization drug and medication rule is more stringent than the California Equine Medication Rule, the sponsoring organization standard applies for the event. Therapeutic medications are drugs or medicines prescribed for use by a licensed veterinarian for the treatment of a diagnosed illness or injury. The California Equine Medication Rule classifies therapeutic drugs or medicines as prohibitive and permitted.

Prohibited Substances include stimulants, depressants, tranquilizers, anesthetics, local anesthetics, sedative analgesics, anabolic steroids, corticosteroids, and soring agents.
Restricted Permitted Substances include the following non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (phenylbutazone (Butazolidin®), flunixin (Banamine®), ketoprofen (Ketofen®), meclofenamic acid (Arquel®), and naproxen (Naprosyn®). Therapeutic administration of NSAIDs to horses entered in horse shows and competitions is acceptable if the dose of NSAIDs do not exceed the maximum allowable regulatory limits in plasma. If more than one NSAID has been used therapeutically, one of the NSAIDs must be withdrawn 72 hours before the competition. The detection of more than one NSAID in a sample is a violation of the rule.

Effective January 1, 2014, the following legislative changes apply to the California Equine Medication Rule:

Addition to the restricted permitted medications list: dexamethasone (Azium®), firocoxib (Equioxx®), diclofenic acid (Surpass®) and methocarbamol (Robaxin®). As restricted permitted medications, these can be administered to horses entered in shows and competition provided the dose of medication does not exceed the maximum allowable level in plasma or urine.

Emergency use of flunixin (Banamine®) by a veterinarian is allowable for treatment of colic or an ophthalmic emergency provided there is a 24 hour withdrawal of the horse from competition after administration.

No administration of injectable substances within 12 hours of competition, except by a veterinarian administering the following:

1) A minimum of 10 liters of emergency fluids within 6-12 hours of competition
2) Antibiotics (Procaine Penicillin is prohibited)
3) Dexamethasone injection within 6-12 hours of competition for the treatment of hives.

The veterinarian must file a Drug Declaration Form following administration of these injectable substances.

The California Equine Medication Rule requires a licensed veterinarian to administer or prescribe the administration of prohibited substances and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to horses at public shows and competitions. A Drug Declaration Form is required if a horse participating in public event has received a prohibited substance that a licensed veterinarian has deemed therapeutically necessary for the treatment of an illness or injury. A Drug Declaration Form must be completed for drugs and medications administered within three (3) days before the show/competition or within five (5) days before a public sale. The owner/exhibitor/trainer is to submit the completed Drug Declaration Form to the event manager within one (1) hour after administration of the product(s) at the event. If the product administration occurs at a time other than during show or sale hours, the individual should submit the completed form within one (1) hour of the event manager's return to duty.

In addition to complying with the declaration of drugs administered, the following drug withdrawal periods must be taken into consideration.

A horse cannot be sold at a public sale for a minimum of 72 hours after administration of a prohibited substance or NSAID.

A horse must be withdrawn from show or competition for a minimum of 24 hours after administration of a prohibited substance.

A horse must be withdrawn from public show or sale for 90 days following the administration of an anabolic steroid.

A horse must be withdrawn from public show or sale for 45 days following administration of reserpine or fluphenazine.

In summary, the California Equine Medication Rule regulates the use of drugs and medications in all horses entered in competitions or public sales in California. Violation of the California Equine Medication Rule may result in civil penalties of not less than $100 and not more than $10,000 for each violation. The EMMP encourages exhibitors and consignors participating in California events to review the California regulations and consult their veterinarian to ensure judicious use of drugs and medication in performance or public sale horses in California.

For more information, visit or contact EMMP Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Katie Flynn at or 916-900-5039.