Position statement: Performance horse medication

Policy type: Position statement
Status: Current
Manual reference: 10d
Date ratified: November 2018

Position Statement

The 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 NZVA 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.


  1. 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.
  2. Any veterinarian who authorises, supplies or administers therapeutic medications must be aware of the clearance times of that medication and its metabolites, and the serious consequences if detection of that medication occurs.
  3. 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.
  4. The NZEVA recommends that veterinarians involved in the medication of performance horses become members of their association in order to have access to the latest NZEVA Prohibited Substances list and the associated disclaimer. Membership enables the NZEVA to quickly notify members of any changes that may occur.
  5. Veterinarians should continue to be aware that:
    1. The response to medication and its clearance time can vary from horse to horse.
    2. Recommendations with regard to withholding times can change.
    3. Detection methods are becoming increasingly more sophisticated.