The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine hosted a fourth meeting to hear from speakers on April 2nd via Zoom. The first speaker NAS and its committee heard from was Dr. Alonso Guedes of the University of Minnesota.

Guedes is a DVM, MS, PhD and board certified veterinary anesthesiologist. He is currently an Associate Professor of Veterinary Anesthesia and Pain Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Guedes is interested in understanding how calcium and lipid signaling are involved in chronic disease biology, with major research interests centered on equine laminitis and osteoarthritis.

Guedes gave a presentation which was very well-received from the committee members that focused on the Equine Nociceptive System. Guedes stated that it can be tested objectively in the lab and the field, however it was uncertain how applicable that would be in the environment of a horse show.

The second presenters were from the United States Department of Agriculture and included Dr. Aaron Rhyner and Melissa Radel, who works within data collection and analysis with USDA and specifically with the swab testing in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Radel reviewed the protocols for collection in the field and alerted the committee to what prohibited substances were under the Horse Protection Act. Under the HPA, no substance can be found other than allowed lubricants provided at the horse show and only applied under the supervision of the Designated Qualified Person or Veterinary Medical Officers. This is a standard only found under the HPA and not followed in other breeds which allow certain levels of therapeutic and helpful substances.

Radel also stated that enforcement actions for foreign substance can be brought about by the DQP or VMO finding the substance during the physical exam or as a result of a positive lab analysis or both. Radel stated horses were selected on a risk based approach which is why they select more padded horses than flat shod horses. During the question and answer USDA stated certain horse shows are selected to test as well as certain entries or trainers are selected based on several criteria including data collected from previous years.

The USDA does have a targeted list of substances it checks for and in those cases the substances are listed in the report but the majority of findings fall under a category labeled “other.” 

The scope of NAS is to convene an ad hoc committee of equine veterinarians and experts with relevant experience and appropriate professional certifications or academic degrees to review the scientific and veterinary medical literature on hoof and pastern pain and skin/tissue changes on the pastern of horses, and evaluate methods used to identify soreness in horses (as defined in the Horse Protection Act* and the implementing regulations) for their scientific validity and reliability.

The committee consists of Dr. Jerry Black, chair, Dr. Bart Sutherland, Dr. Tracy Turner, Dr. Pamela Ginn, Dr. Sarah le Jeune, Dr. Susan White and Robin Foster.

Click here to view the presentation. 

Click here to watch the webinar.