The Furosemide Equine Frenzy
One might wonder whether or not it’s time to get rid of drugs in horse-racing in America. A lot of people here in the States might not be aware of it, but there is one drug used as an anti-bleeding medication that is seen in most of the rest of the world as a performance-enhancing drug and is therefore banned.
The official name of it is Furosemide and it’s also known as Salix or Lasix. With the US so out of step on this issue with the rest of the world and through concern for the overall health of horses, there have been efforts to get this drug phased out of the American horse-racing scene.
The hope is to make its use illegal for two-year-old races first of all before gradually expanding the banishment of the drug to the rest of the races. The idea is well supported, it seems, with the agreement of a number of high-profile horse trainers in the States, including, Richard Mandella and Todd Pletcher. Other well-known personalities in the equine world in favor of such a mover are officials from the Breeders’ Cup, including Craig Fravel and Bill Farish. Added to that list are a number of owners of race courses. One such owner whose company owns six American race venues has already given his agreement to ban the drug at all of his racetracks.
But the feeling is far from a unanimous sentiment and there are many voices opposing the banishing of Lasix from the menu. No less than the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association came out strongly against the proposal. Mr. Rick Violette claimed that bleeding was a problem common to the “vast majority” of all horses and that the most effective and safe way of dealing with this was by using Lasix. His take on the matter was echoed by many others in horsemen’s associations. In fact, the majority of them are against banning Lasix.
The whole debate has raged on and on over many years. From one side, the notion of keeping horses on drugs is simply wrong and not good for the overall health of the animal. From another point of view, however, it’s a far more cruel thing to deny a horse this treatment and let him/her bleed to death.
No matter which way the debate is going right now, it does seem inevitable that in this age of high-speed communication, the majority ideas seem to rule the world. In this context, America finds itself in the minority in believing that Lasix is good and necessary for horses and it would appear to be only a matter of time before it too succumbs to the notion that the drug should be banned altogether.
There are even those who relate the whole debate to mosquito control and fly control. The effects of mosquitos and the blue green fly on horses are not to be taken lightly and seem to be getting worse while fly control is generally getting better. There is a theory (as yet, unproven) that horses who don’t have any “drug problems” are better able to cope with flies than other animals. In an era where pest control products are becoming less chemical and more organic every day, it looks like suicide for Furosemide.