The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) of Ontario is taking an industry lead by recommending and supporting a ban on the use of race day medication in Ontario.

The HBPA Board of Directors made the final decision after it being raised at an ORC (Ontario Racing Commission) industry consultation meeting and further after reading and observing the waves of negative publicity in the USA on this issue.

“The horse racing industry, particularly horse people, continues to receive blame for not addressing the issue of administration of medications to our horses.” said Sue Leslie HBPA President, “Our customers rightly deserve to be confident that horses are racing clean on race day.”

We as horse people know that legal therapeutic medication is used for the comfort and benefit of our equine athletes, no different than therapeutic medications used by human beings to improve their quality of life.

The public needs to have confidence that all race horses are treated ethically.

The HBPA of Ontario wants to send a clear, strong message to the public, legislators and our customers that the industry does not tolerate the use of illegal drugs and that the health and welfare our horses continues to be the top priority throughout the industry.

“HBPA’s in general have been facing harsh criticism by its members, legislators, members of the betting and general public for not taking action or for hindering the implementation of programs that could restore public confidence concerning the use of medication in our sport,” stated Leslie, “The HBPA of Ontario Board has decided to step up and take the lead on this issue in the hope that other associations and jurisdictions will follow suit and support.”

The HBPA plans to submit their support of a race day ban to the Ontario Racing Commission, the Province’s regulatory body, and if implemented the plan would prevent veterinarians from entering a horse’s stall on the day it is entered to race. The administration of the approved bleeding medication Lasix, which is administered on the day of a race by a Commission veterinarian, would still be permitted.

There are many questions and details procedurally that need to be discussed before it can be implemented and the process is expected to take a few months.

“We expect that the majority of the industry will be comfortable with the implementation of this new initiative. The health and welfare of the equine athlete and the concerns of the betting customer are our top priorities,” commented Leslie, “We would hope that other associations in Ontario would offer their public support of the plan. The customer and the public demand it and our horses deserve it.”