Drug testing is required at all Equine Canada-sanctioned competitions, so to avoid a positive test you should familiarize yourself with the rules well ahead of your first horse show.
The full Canadian rules are available in the General Rulebook under Equine Medications Control (Chapter 11). If you are not from Canada, check your national federation's website or rulebook for the permitted medications in your country. The American rules are available here.
The Equine Medication Control Guide is an excellent booklet available for download from EC providing a summary of the rules, prohibited/banned substances and some detection times. For a more complete list of detection times, see the CPMA Schedule of Drugs.
The Equine Canada Drug Classification Scheme describes the classes of a long list of drugs and also gives alternate names for many of them.
Here are the most important parts of the EC rules for you to know (updated in 2013):
ARTICLE A1003 PERMITTED MEDICATIONS
Permitted Medications may be present in a horse during an EC-sanctioned competition.
1. Permitted Medications are the following:
a) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs approved for use in Canada for horses: flunixin meglumine, ketoprofen, phenylbutazone, or acetylsalicylic acid, subject to the restrictions below.
b) the anti-ulcer medications: cimetidine, ranitidine, or omeprazole
Please note that some Permitted Medications can alter the elimination guidelines contained in the Schedule of Drugs.
2. Only one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug may be administered. If more than one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is found in any sample, the test will be deemed positive. Samples found to contain a permitted medication may be subjected to quantitative testing.
3. Restrictions relating to permitted medication are as follows:
a) The maximum permissible plasma or serum concentration of flunixin is 1.0 microgram per millilitre.
b) The maximum permissible plasma or serum concentration of phenylbutazone is 15.0 micrograms per millilitre.
4. The rules of certain divisions/breed sports are more restrictive and in some cases allow no drugs or medications. See discipline/breed sport rules.
ARTICLE A1004 DRUGS
1. A drug is any substance included in the Canadian Pari-Mutual Agency Schedule of Drugs.
2. Persons Responsible, veterinarians, owners, trainers and riders are cautioned against the use of medicinal preparations, tonics, pastes, feeds, supplements, neutraceuticals or herbal products of any kind, the ingredients and quantitative analysis of which are not specifically known, as they may contain a drug, the use of which in competition is not permitted.
ARTICLE A1006 EXAMINATION, SAMPLE COLLECTION AND TESTING
2. On the recommendation of the chair or the chair’s delegate, the technician or the licensed veterinarian may select for sample collection and testing any horse entered in any class at an EC-sanctioned competition, including any horse withdrawn by an exhibitor within 24 hours prior to a class for which it had been entered, while the horse is on the competition grounds.
4. a) When a horse is selected to undergo sample collection and drug testing, the Person Responsible shall take the horse to the area designated for sample collection at the time and in the manner indicated. If a Person Responsible is unable to attend the sample collection session he or she must designate a representative to attend. The Person Responsible, or the representative, must witness the collection of the official sample, witness the sealing of the official sample container and sign the documentation that accompanies the official sample to the official laboratory. When the competitor is 18 years of age or under, the Person Responsible may be a parent/guardian who is not an EC or USEF member. The absence of the Person Responsible, or a representative, shall constitute a waiver of any objection to the identification of any horse tested and the manner in which the official sample was collected, sealed and shipped to the official laboratory.
b) If a horse is suspended as a result of a positive test, the suspension shall extend until all fines are paid.
ARTICLE A1010 VIOLATIONS
1. No person shall:
g) be in possession of any of the following drugs (i) injectable magnesium, (ii) gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) or (iii) hydroxygamma butyric acid (Hydroxy-GABA) at an EC-sanctioned competition;
h) administer or permit the administration by any means to a horse entered in an EC-sanctioned competition any of the following drugs (i) injectable magnesium, (ii) gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) or (iii) hydroxygamma butyric acid (Hydroxy-GABA); or
i) refuse the request of an on duty EC licensed official to provide for independent inspection and testing the equipment and materials used for the injection of a horse at an EC-sanctioned competition.
6. If an on duty EC licensed official (i.e. Steward, Judge, Technical Delegate) personally witnesses the injection or attempted injection of a horse at an EC sanctioned competition by an person the licensed official must inform the person that he or she was seen injecting or attempting to inject the horse and the licensed official may then request of that person that all the equipment and materials used for the injection such as but not limited to syringes, medications, vials, containers, cotton, etc. (the injection equipment) be turned over and provided to the licensed official for independent inspection and testing to determine whether any of the following drugs: (i) injectable magnesium, (ii) gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) or (iii) hydroxygamma butyric acid (Hydroxy-GABA) were present in or on the injection equipment. If, after being asked by the licensed official to provide the injection equipment to the licensed official, the person refuses or fails to comply, such conduct will itself result in a violation with the same sanction to be imposed as a positive analysis report for a class two (2) substance of the EC Drug Classification Scheme.
List of Drugs
Any substance and any preparation, metabolite, derivative, isomer and salt of the substance,
(a) that is labelled for veterinary use under the Food and Drug Regulations during a period of 240 days, calculated from the day on which the drug was assigned a drug identification number (D.I.N.) under those Regulations;
(b) that is not labelled for veterinary use in Canada under the Food and Drug Regulations;
(c) that interferes with an analysis for any drug included in this schedule; or
(d) that is included in the following list (which includes substances that are labelled for veterinary use in Canada):
Penicillin G Procaine
Furosemide - Quantitative limit 85 ng/mL in blood
Salicylic acid - Quantitative limit 750 ug/mL in urine and 6.5 ug/mL in blood
Procaine - Quantitative limit 25 ng/ml in blood
Banamine (flunixin meglumine) and bute (phenylbutazone) are allowed but only in small amounts. Ask your veterinarian how much you can give per day of the particular container that you are using. One very important point is that you cannot combine NSAIDs. This means that you can give your horse bute or banamine, but never both at the same time. For this reason, it's very important to make sure that there is no contamination of feed because there are stories of horses who have tested positive after eating out of a feed tub that used to contain a prohibited drug. If you are giving your horse banamine at a horse show, make sure that there is no way for your horse to eat any bute at the same show!
Always check the ingredients of any supplement that you feed to make sure that it contains no prohibited substances. Certain calming supplements, for example, will test.
It's always a good idea to ask your veterinarian for an estimated withdrawal time on any medication that you plan on using. That will allow you to stop certain medications far enough before the horse show to avoid a positive test. It will also be very important if your horse has been on bute and you would like to give your horse a shot of banamine for a mild colic before the show.
If your horse is selected for drug testing, the tester will stay with you from the time you leave the show ring until you reach the testing area, which should be a nice, fluffy stall to encourage the horse to urinate. If your horse will not urinate, a blood sample can be taken instead after enough time has passed.