BY LISA LAZARUS
Spending less, exercising more, cooking from scratch…just some of the many new year’s resolutions that you might be setting this January, in the hope of achieving self-improvement in 2020. But whilst you are thinking about how to change your lifestyle habits over the coming 12 months, why not also turn your thoughts to how you can improve your stable practices? After all, the first few months of the year are the ideal time to kick start a change in practice!
As you will probably know, all FEI riders must comply with the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping Rules (EADR). Even if you are not a FEI-level rider (yet!), you can use these rules as guidelines for ensuring you are maintaining best-practice, so far as prohibited substances are concerned. You may already be doing many of the right things to ensure your compliance with the EADR, however it is easy to forget how quickly cross-contamination and mistakes can occur, if you do not have the proper preventative measures in place.
“Every conceivable effort”
It is particularly important to put preventative measures in place as the expectation level on FEI riders is so high – and the risk of sanction is so great. The FEI Tribunal has stated that riders must make “every conceivable effort” to ensure that mistakes do not occur. That is quite some effort! With sanctions for EADR violations including suspensions of up to four years, hefty fines, not to mention the damage to your reputation caused by any charges, you really want to make sure you are doing what you can to comply. With this in mind, we have 5 key changes you should think about for 2020!
1. Educate the people you work with
You may understand the EADR very well, but it is crucial to make sure that everyone who works with your horse does too. Article 2 of the EADR puts responsibility on you – the rider – for EADR mistakes made by other people that involve your horse. This means that if your groom accidentally uses the wrong cream on your horse which contains a prohibited substance, you will be suspended even if you didn’t know about it! Take the time to educate the people you work with on the EADR and the importance of compliance. Check out the FEI webpages for helpful sheets and summary videos. Make it a fun group activity and offer refresher training as often as necessary.
2. Medication logbook
Under the FEI Veterinary Rules, a logbook must be kept for all FEI horses: “to record any medication and supplements given during or outside of competition”. The logbook should record the date, substance, dosage of any treatment, and the person administering the treatment. Make sure you have a logbook – and actually fill it in! Not only does this ensure FEI rule compliance, having an accurate log of all treatment administered to your horses could be helpful in the event of any doping issues or disputes.
3. Storing feed and medication
Unintended cross-contamination of substances into feed and medication can occur very easily in busy stables. It is therefore wise to keep medicine in a locked medication cabinet, away from other consumable goods and protected from unauthorized use. Whilst feed does not necessarily need to be locked away, it is certainly sensible to keep it in closed containers, separate from other items such as personal belongings, human consumables and pest control substances. You should also always be careful if a horse in your stables is being treated with a Controlled Medication (which is permitted out of competition), that horse’s feeding utensils are kept entirely separate from the other horses to avoid any risk of cross-contamination. Reorganizing how you store products given to your horses could help you to avoid cross-contamination.
4. Visitor logbook
Many people come and go at stables, from vets and riders to farriers and guests. Often there is no record of who has entered the premises or which horses they have visited. Sometimes weeks can elapse between a positive anti-doping result and communication of that to the rider. By that time, the rider has completely forgotten who was in contact with the horse at the time – and has no record to fall back on! This is important because the first required step in any anti-doping case is explaining to the FEI how the prohibited substance came into the horse’s system. For extra caution, keep a logbook of all the people who come into contact with your horse, recording the names, dates and times of the visit. This way, should any contamination issues arises, you will be able to quickly review who has visited the site and speak with them.
5. Consistent standards
In a shared stable situation, it might be that not everyone keeps up the high standards of compliance with the EADR that you hold yourself and those you work with to. If you are in this position, it is worth speaking with your stable manager and proposing a policy for all riders, which should include direction on all the recommendations we have listed above and anything else particular to your set up. This will help to ensure that everyone is following the measures you put in place to avoid violations of the EADR.
It is easy to fall off the bandwagon with new year’s resolutions. But by making these simple changes this year, you can help to ensure that you are complying with the EADR and avoid anti-doping rule violations. So, forget about giving up chocolate and make 2020 the year of better stable practices!